Don't Call Me Lady

Originally published in Barber Evo, USA Edition #1

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Close your eyes. Imagine yourself in a barbershop: the clippers buzzing, the conversations and music in the background, the sound of water rushing as the last remnants of hair are washed away. Who do you see? How do you imagine a Barber?

This was the first question I posed when I created the website for Her Chair His Hair, and one that I still ask almost 5 years later to this day. The barber that comes to mind will vary based on a plethora of descriptors: old or young, new or advanced, Latino or Russian. However, that Barber you imagined is likely a man and that doesn’t make you wrong, but it does show how far we have to go as an industry.

Every day since I graduated school, I have had the same, eye opening conversation. “Hi, my name is Cassie and I’m a Barber.” Most people, men and women alike, will blink confusedly and ask a simple question, “Oh, you’re a stylist/lady Barber/Barber-ess?” It used to bother me so much until I realized that it is not their fault because we all have been conditioned to think of a barbershop as a place for men. Women have salons and men have barbershops, right? As we lovingly say in Brooklyn…“nah.”

In 1924 the first “women barbers” were admitted into the Barber Union and in 1985 women constituted for 50% of Barber school enrollments.

Women have played an integral role in the barbering industry longer than most people are aware. In 1924 the first “women barbers” were admitted into the Barber Union and in 1985 women constituted for 50% of Barber school enrollments. These statistics are only applicable to the United States in the 20th century and yet, without proof, most people will brush them off and say that it is a new “trend” or “fad” for women to become barbers. So why is there so much pushback? In my years of doing research, networking and developing relationships with women in the industry, the consensus is typically the same: nobody believes us when we tell them what we do for a living.

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Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow barber, platform educator and brand manager at the International Beauty Show in New York. We spoke about a recent event she participated in as a featured judge and how it lead her to realize something very strange about the structure of the battles that were hosted. Full disclaimer: I think, to a degree, “female” categories at Barber events are great because they’re a way to dip slowly into the water. With that being said, the active separation of men and women at these events are a complete disservice to all professionals. This woman told me that the “female” category was not only priced less, at the same price as the student category, but that the cash prize plus physical trophy dwarfed in comparison to the other categories.

Some will read that last paragraph and yell out, “But Cassie, at least there is a female category to represent women in the industry.” I ask you to hear me out. Why at least? From my perspective, it’s indirectly sending a message that women are not on the same playing field as men when it comes to competitions and we all know that’s simply untrue. Well, some of us do at least. This is not an attack on those who have good intentions and are attempting to include or attract women to their events. Historically, most Barber events are geared toward men and any good marketing course will tell you that diversity is key, especially when there is an 18 trillion dollar “female” economy to tap into.

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So where do we go from here? We move forward in unison as an industry while respecting that we all have strengths and weaknesses in our personal path to success. All events, for both stylists and barbers, can actively create an inclusive environment so that any professional looking to enhance their skill set feels welcomed. Most importantly, in my opinion, when someone tells you who they are or what they do, you can believe them and skip the 21 questions about how their gender magically affects their title or license. 

Oh, and you can stop calling me “lady.”

Cassondra Kurtz

Founder of www.HerChairHisHair.com 

Master Barber, State of New York

How to Travel to NYC for $500 or Less! (For Her Chair His Hair Presents: Lady Barber Showcase)

In our industry it seems that we always come last. Haircuts, doctor appointments, happy hour and even a short vacation. Our clients seem to always need us when we're about to walk away and after restocking on products, sharpening shears, or covering booth rent, there seems to be very little money left to splurge. 

So how the hell are you supposed to make it to New York City for a weekend of networking, education and, ultimately, a great time at Her Chair His Hair Presents: Lady Barber Showcase?

I'm glad you asked.
 

Naturally, this varies based on where you are located and how far in advance you plan but luckily in the United States flight prices can dip unless they are in high demand. Statistically, after back to school and before Thanksgiving, many people aren't looking to travel and prices become much more affordable. 

I love to travel and I love to make last minuted decisions about where I'm going which usually results in having to squeeze here and budget there when it comes to my trips. So I thought I would share a few things to help make it financially possible to get out of your house and on the next flight to New York. (Truthfully, I just REALLY want to see your face at my event so I can hug you for all of your online support thus far!)

Travel Options

A lot of people think the only way to get somewhere else is by plane. Granted, we are working on shorter weekends than most, so typically it is best. But if you're coming from the East Coast, perhaps consider the bus?

Kiplinger.com points out 'For example, an advance-purchase Greyhound bus ticket for travel in October from Raleigh, N.C., to New York cost $45 versus $52.95 to fill up a 15-gallon tank at the average East Coast gas price of $3.53 a gallon (and you'll need to fill up more than once for a drive of that distance). A one-way Amtrak train ticket for the same route would cost $90.'

If taking a bus, or driving, is not possible and flights are the way to go, consider which airport you fly into. I've found that I can save $50-$100 flying in or out of JFK versus LGA and Newark. Which brings me to my next point.

Cross Check Flight Prices

Most people directly go to the website of their airline of choice and call it a day. I've found there are a few ways to find the ultimate flight within your budget. 

  1. Google! If you simply put in origin and destination Google will show you all different versions of flights that range in time, layovers, and price.
  2. Google comes to the rescue again. Similarly, if you find that plain old Google isn't doing it for you there is the Flight Matrix. It sounds way more complicated than it really is but if you do a little leg work you will find that you can save sometimes up to $100 on a flight with this bad boy.
  3. Points! Have a credit card that you forgot has amazing deals for spending money on it? Chase Sapphire Visa, Amex for Jetblue and Delta, and Chase Freedom are just a few cards I use to take my money already spent and turn it into a flight somewhere more exciting. I recently even booked a flight to Long Beach, California for Modown Barber Exhibit for the price of taxes ($11.20). That's it!
  4. Buddy passes. Know someone that works for an airline? More than likely they have one or two of these up their sleeve and maybe in exchange for some haircuts and beers they will be willing to help you out. Typically these are for one way so you will have to purchase another one way back but have no fear! Most airlines like American Airlines, Jetblue and Southwest love doing deals on Mondays or Tuesdays for one way flights. 

Airbnb to the Rescue!

Hotels and other traditional versions of stay in New York can run you $250 at least per night unless you're far out near the airport or in New Jersey. Why not stay down the block from the Lady Barber Showcase hosted at 28 on 27 Shoot Studio and Event Space located at 28 West 27th Street, New York, New York and in the middle of everything Manhattan has to offer?

  1. On average, to rent an entire apartment on Airbnb.com in New York will save you 21.2% and run you $180 per night. (http://priceonomics.com/hotels)
  2. If you decide to rent a room in an apartment sublet style, you will end up saving 49.5%. ALMOST HALF!
  3. If you really want to maximize your savings, you can split said Airbnb apartment with fellow barbers or friends who have always wanted to come to New York City (and see ladies kick ass while showcasing). 
  4. Want to save an extra $20? Use my referral link. No seriously, it doesn't expire and you can have it. I'm not sure if I truly even get anything for it but that's okay, I just want to see you on the 25th! 

If Airbnb still exceeds your budget, consider hostels which are a way more affordable option to hotels and require sharing some space but are typically very safe. If you're a member of Couchsurfing.com then you are all set with lodging!

Purchase Ahead of Time

This seems really obvious but a lot of people don't consider the money spent on dining out, seeing the sights and other incidentals while you're in New York. Websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, TravelZoo, and others are all about saving you money and promoting local businesses. 


Overall, if you search head to toe for the right flight and book through Airbnb, for two to three days in New York City, you can actually do the entire trip for $500. It of course helps to travel with someone else to split the expenses. But it's doable! And I hope that this will help when planning your trip to the Her Chair His Hair Presents: Lady Barber Showcase on Sunday, October 25th at 6:30 pm. (Shameless plug!)

Until Next Time,

Cassie

State of the Union: Taking Back Our Industry

Tonight I was involved in a conversation amongst many peers that discussed where the industry was going for Barbers and what we could do to improve it. There was talk about how Barbers are being poorly represented in the media all the way to how Barbers represent themselves poorly. It took me a minute to realize why I felt like I have heard this conversation before but not amongst Barbers and finally it hit me: every industry is currently facing the same problem.

If you read or keep up with my previous posts then you know that I have this knack for intertwining multiple industries or topics that seemingly have nothing to do with each other. It's a blessing and a curse because I can go completely off topic but I promise I always have a point. Stick with me.

Barbers, hair stylists, makeup artists, and nail technicians or aestheticians are facing the same reality: prices keep going up and wages stay the same, or in some cases, decrease. Before I became a Barber I was a makeup artist for quite a few years and a freelance makeup artist at that aka struggle city. We are constantly fighting as makeup artists to prove our worth to clients amongst a growing crowd of upcoming artists and the generation of established artists before us. 

But Barbers work in shops or studios, they don't 'freelance', so why are they struggling? I'm glad you asked. I'll get back to that.

Another issue is reputation amongst our industries and how the public perceives us. Half of it is from what they've experienced in their daily life and the other half is from what they see on television.  

You're telling me makeup artists don't rip each others hair out on set? No way. 

Another known fact about me is I don't keep my mouth shut and sometimes to a fault but it's who I am and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. With that being said, everyone knows I speak out often on women as Barbers and how we are constantly perceived as eye candy rather than equals at events. 

So, wait, most Barbers who happen to be women don't dress like they're on a yacht in Miami with Pitbull? Sadly not.

Perception. That's how we take our industry back.

You are only good as your perceived value in this era of being a Barber or makeup artist. That's why visually stimulating social media platforms like Youtube, Instagram and even Vine make a big impact. If you can walk the walk after talking the talk then you have instantly increased your value to complete strangers. 

People are learning how to perceive us through television shows or movies like Barbershop, Blush, Jerseylicious, Face Off and Cedric's Barber Battle. Not all are bad but not all are good either because they are completely one-sided and, in return, professionals feel like they're not being properly represented. 

When the public watches these shows that create a gilded perception, it instantly decreases the value of our work. They see the easiest and most simplified aspects of it and think that's all it requires to become successful. Forget the hundreds and thousands of hours of training or experience and the heavy investments into your kit or tools. You just get it for free like the Youtube gurus, right?

This leads me back to the earlier question of why Barbers struggle. We allow the public's perception to control our pricing.

Only in the Barbershop community have I seen such disdain for people who increase their prices based on their experience, market and simple ability to do so. Products have gone up in price, so has rent and every other utility, plus your own bills to support yourself. So why haven't your prices? Because we continually allow the public to say,"But it's so easy, look at XYZ show! So why are you charging so much?"

...Because I like to eat. (Cupcakes, for any of you who were wondering. My birthday is January 28th.)


Recently I have found myself heavily investing in my continued education, taking time to network with my peers and just take a step back to listen. So many Barbers have so much to say about the rapid decline of how Barbers are perceived but, equally, so many have hopes for changing that and taking our industry back.

There's a quote that says,"The world is full of nice people. If you can't find one, be one." 

This industry is brimming with talent: established and upcoming. If you can't find something that makes you proud and willing to represent it, then make a change. There is one thing that stands true in any industry and that is if you build it they will come. Small changes create a ripple effect in our small community that reach out to our clients and their friends or families which in return will help build a positive perception. 

Think about it.

Until Next Time,
Cassie

 

How to Care: Grey, Silver, and White Hair!

It's been a while since I've written an article on actual men's grooming and, as always, whenever a singular topic presents its self I get the urge to write about it. Lately I have seen a lot of talk about the Barber/Stylist crossover movement and with that comes a responsibility to know how to care for all hair types. 

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So what happens when your client's hair goes grey/silver/white with a dash of yellow? It takes away from your perfect haircut and, even worse,  it makes the hair look unhealthy. How many of your men or women in your chair have asked for help but you couldn't really figure it out? It's short and simple: haircare and the toxins they are around every day.

I live in Manhattan, New York City and half of my clients live here as well or in the surrounding areas. Everyone knows the air here isn't exactly quality and the same goes for Los Angeles, too. They don't call it 'smokers yellow' for no reason. Oh, it's not yellow? It's frizz? That's normal too. 

Here's a few tips for addressing and putting the brilliance back in your client's hair.

1. Yellow Hair: Yuck!

When hair loses pigment it also becomes porous and can suck in every toxin that it comes into contact with. A really simple solution that I tell my clients to do is use a violet shampoo. The purple/blue color neutralizes the yellow and gives that beautiful silver grey color back. Men hate going to great lengths to take care of their hair and most women don't want to take additional time out of their day either. This may not be the end-all solution for dull or yellow color but I have seen clients try it and love it.

2. Frizz Control

Most men just throw paste or gel in their hair and hope the little stray hairs don't escape from the perfect shape they created in the morning. There are two reasons for this and one is dehydration which most people know about. A lot of people use 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioners which doesn't effectively hydrate the hair, always use a separate conditioner and you will feel the difference. 

Second reason for frizz is using the thinning/texturizing shears on top of the head. I'm not saying my way is right and yours is wrong: if it works for you then continue on. But I almost never use texturizing shears on top of the head, it's my personal prerogative as a Barber. I find techniques such as point-cutting or slicing work more effectively with this hair type rather than razors or texturizing shears. 

3. Long Hair Versus Short 

This is a call that only your client can make but I will say that shorter hair tends to look better on grey, silver or white. Of course this doesn't apply to everyone but I find that length almost never does any justice for men with a lack of pigment. I'm not saying to buzz all of it but to keep it in check and not let it get too out of control.

Hope this helps when assessing your clients hair and what they want compared to what they currently have! Leave a comment below if you have any additional tips, tricks or products you think are worth using.

Always,

Cassie

The Best Worst Yelp Review

I think everyone has caught on to the fact that I write about what occurs during the week in my shop and chair. It's inevitable that an idea will spark from what I deal with every day but I want to put it out there that it is the strangest thing for me to write and think half the people reading will care. It also needs to be said, though, that every article and topic I write, every Lady Barber I feature, and every event I report, are integral parts of each Barber's career in our industry. Whether it's color, consultation, struggles, or successes, we as Barbers can all relate with sympathy and interest. 

With that being said, I wanted to touch on a topic that has increasingly been the cause of success or demise to a Barber (and every other business) in the past decade. Yelp. I have worked as a bartender, in retail, as a makeup artist and now a Barber so I have always known the mantra 'The customer is always right'. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we as professionals would be so susceptible to a disgruntled clients' complaint. Do we always aim to please every one? I'd hope so, scratch that, know so. But more and more we are finding people are lashing out for things beyond a company's control; like the unhappy customer who wanted to take food to-go from a fine dining restaurant. 

This is the story of the best one star review I will ever hope for in my career.

Picture a quiet, rainy evening in the shop. You know the kind where you had a few reschedules and nobody is venturing out in that weather on a Monday. I was quietly working on a colleague's hair and discussing new products that we had just received; no big deal. Remember when I discussed a few weeks ago how Your Clients Hair Is Not A Coloring Book? Well this situation definitely validates that article. 

To give a quick run-down: a client was given to a stylist, instead of me, the Barber, because my price-point was a bit higher. No big deal, it happens and I'm okay with that. But in this particular instance, the stylist was given quite a few men that day and I had noticed a certain lack of joy when it came to cutting men's hair. None of my business, I have my clients and this was her walk-in. What resulted from this appointment could either help or hurt me because most people do not read a full Yelp review and only look at the rating and the name.

So as you can see this client was extremely unhappy given his rating and narrative in the beginning. Where do I come in to play you ask? That follows soon after...

Luckily, I was available to assess the situation. How nice of him to say! So why is this bad? Because each person that reads this review has the opportunity to actually read it in entirety or see the one star and only my name because he was protecting the negligent party. Sigh...

Overall, he put really positive comments about me and luckily at the end as well so hopefully the people skimming will be confused and read in detail.

So why is this the worst and best review of my career? Because I'm crazy quite frankly. I only see the good in things and refuse to feel bad that my name is associated with a one star review. The people who choose to skim are like the lady who chose to ignore the fact that a fine dining restaurant does not do delivery or to-go orders. More than likely you don't want them in your chair anyway.

As for the other people who do their research and don't disqualify you based off one review are the loyal clients, the long-timers. They are the guys who show you photos of their kids growing up, ask for your opinion on a sticky situation, and take care of you after all the times you have taken care of them. 

Next time you have someone in your chair that you think is a 'Yelper' and may wreak havoc, remember this article. If you can do something to achieve a better result or outcome - do it. But let's not forget that not all bad reviews are truly bad. *wink wink* Catch you Thursday 11 AM EST!

Always,

Cassie