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,


Whiphand Cosmetics: Detroit's Destiny

Last week, I mentioned a small but strong company named Whip Hand Cosmetics in Shaving on Set!. So far, I have received tremendous feedback requesting more information on them and thought I'd properly introduce them like I had introduced Brooklyn Grooming earlier this month. Who's the mastermind behind Whip Hand? Better yet, how did they come up with fantastic products that are geared towards both men and women without scaring either off? I'd love to tell you right now. 

Whip Hand Cosmetics Her Chair His Hair

Although primarily geared towards Makeup Artists, Whip Hand has become a strong force in the men's grooming arena. Products ranging from 'Give Good Face' Rosewater Tonic to 'Strike It Rich' Deep Cleansing Oil allow men to take care of their skin without feeling out of place. Most companies do not consider both men and women, but every detail ranging from the bold colors to the strong text suggest that Whip Hand has carefully curated a line that is open to any one. 

Fun fact: the company was founded only 3 years ago in 2011 and launched May 2012! In a few short years they have taken strides to establish themselves as a go to for professionals and consumers alike. I briefly introduced Riese Lauriat in Shaving On Set! but feel she deserves a larger round of applause for her hard work and devotion to this company. A veteren professional makeup artist and esthetician, Riese has more than 15 years of experience in the beauty industry. While Riese loves the creativity of producing beautiful, useable makeup, she will say that her real reason for starting Whip Hand Cosmetics was to open up opportunities for other men and women in the field and to create jobs in Detroit. 

Riese Lauriat, founder of Whip Hand Cosmetics, working on set behind the scenes.

Riese Lauriat, founder of Whip Hand Cosmetics, working on set behind the scenes.

Although in it's infancy, Whip Hand Cosmetics has already been present at large name events and used on awesome celebrities. As I've mentioned, I use it on set all of the time for when I need to do a quick shave or need to ensure the minimal makeup I apply on a male model stays in crazy temperatures. Rashida Bishop, a professional men's groomer, even used it on Patrick Stewart for one of her shoots! They've been featured in Women's Wear Daily, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Allure Magazine and have sponsored Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami, phew! I can see Riese is keeping her tight knit company busy and it's certainly paying off. 

When asked about their process, Whip Hand stated:
"All of Whip Hand Cosmetics professional makeup artist-quality cosmetics and skin care products are developed and manufactured in Metro-Detroit in small lots, by hand. While this process is more labor-intensive, it allows us to create unique products of exceptional-quality that stand-up to the demands of pros, while also delighting makeup lovers of all colors and walks of life."

Hmm...I'm starting to notice a correlation between companies I love for their quality and this trend of developing their products by hand (cough, Brooklyn Grooming). I can't wait to continue updating you all on their fabulous products and their versatile uses in the shop as well as on set! Have you used Whip Hand Cosmetics before? Tell us in the comments or e-mail us with your feedback, we'd love to hear!

Check back every Monday and Thursday 11:00 AM EST for product reviews, how to's and introductions to our favorite companies. Feel free to submit a product or company that you feel has impacted the men's grooming and barber game!

Warmest wishes,