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

 

A Freelancer's Struggle

Lately it feels like all I have been doing is apologizing for shirking on my schedule when it comes to Her Chair His Hair. Yet there is still an overwhelming amount of support when it comes to both the website’s traffic and the interaction on Instagram. It doesn’t go unnoticed even if sometimes it may seem so.

What the hell does this have to do with men’s grooming? Well, everything. Our clients have someone to listen to their problems but sometimes we feel like we don’t have a single person to reach out to.

As Barbers, Hairstylists and Freelancers we all go through slumps and we all experience overwhelming moments where we don’t know what our next week or even month will look like. There is a certain image we need to portray because of social media that everything is cake and we are doing better than you can ever imagine. I’m not here to play psychologist to any of you because that is not my intention but I wanted to talk about it myself. Some of you may hold it against me, some of you may feel angry because it is exactly what you’re going through but I hope that most of you will embrace it.

I started my LLC in the middle of the worst recession America has faced in quite some time. Everyone thought I was crazy and told me to get my ass to college, stat! But it just wasn’t for me and not because I do not believe in higher education. I enjoy taking non-matriculated courses at school to this day but a degree just was not in my plan. Like many of you I started slowly but surely and eventually couldn’t keep track of when was what. It was brilliant! I was 19 and working for Hearst Corporation, Cover Girl and some major artists in the industry while participating in the social media rat race. But then came the slow winter months and I didn’t know where to turn. Everyone online seemed to have their work schedules set and I was left in the dust.

freelance_HerChairHisHair_NYC

 Sound familiar?

We all experience this at one point whether it is in a barbershop, a salon or on set. For all that is holy I wish it would strengthen our bond rather than push us further apart!  

Currently, I am working in two shops that I love dearly but I did something different this year – I decided to travel. But how can I travel when money is short and business is slow? I saved up.  Throughout the entire year I saved money, anything that I could spare. I love to travel, meet new people and see new places while immersing myself in a brand new community.  I chose this because it is something that brings me happiness and reminds me to get in front of people with a cup of coffee, or my favorite, lemonade.

freelance_HerChairHisHair_NYC

To anyone who is still reading this and who doesn’t have their eyes rolled in the back of their head, I’d like to challenge you.  Pick something you love: cooking, traveling, photography, or even school, and save up starting in February when work picks up again and you can spare the few dollars here and there. This time next year you can afford that new camera or those classes on marketing you’ve always been interested in.


In the meantime please feel free to reach out to me. It can be anonymous on the contact page, by e-mail or Instagram: publicly or privately. It may feel so crazy some days, you may feel so anxious other days but if you have someone to vent to, yell at or just sit in silence with, it will help. Here's a photo of me when I was just a wee baby so you're not too nervous to reach out. See? I don't bite...ok I was a biter but I promise it wasn't that bad.

                                                                                                         Baby Cassie with two teeth and stylin' wispy bangs. 

                                                                                                         Baby Cassie with two teeth and stylin' wispy bangs. 

Much love, catch y’all in San Francisco.

Always,
Cassie