As much as I love learning things fast, looking back to how I first started was similar to a turtle winning a race. Slow but EAGER to learn more and more each and every day.
Believe it or not, my mom is the reason I have a career. Let’s just say enough was enough and I had to take over.
Throughout school I would see friends with edge ups, line ups and designs, so I figured I’d try the same. Believe me, I screwed up my head way too many times before I actually got somewhat decent at buzzing my hair down to one size and finishing it off with a line up.
I was stoked about cutting hair that I was even giving out free haircuts. Whether it was a family member to even a few friends, I was literally giving them out. For free. The reason behind it was because I wanted to better myself. I loved what I was doing and I was desperate to learn. I was never thinking about the money. Money was the last thing on my mind. What really attracted me was the satisfaction of the person sitting in my chair. The first times I heard “perfect” or “this is exactly what I wanted,” I knew I had something good going on. Though, as much as I loved hearing that, I had to accept that some wouldn’t be satisfied. Believe me, some were NOT satisfied. I definitely felt a little discouraged in the moment but guess what.
I learned something!
Every time an incident like this happened, guess what? I learned something again. And again. And again. And again. I never let it get to me because I knew I was far from where I wanted to be.
After 5 years of cutting hair in my so called barbershop, I had finally decided to pursue a barber license. During school hours I’d learn the fundamentals for passing state board. The technical stuff. BUT, the more important things were being learned outside of school. Every day, after school, I’d take my tools back home and practice. Whether it was on my dad, my brother, or someone random, I was being exposed to different textures of hair, different cow-licks(swirl on top of your head), and different personalities.( Don't get me wrong by this time I had a small understanding of hair. So I'd charge accordingly.) I was learning how to better myself without even knowing it. I was learning how to cut hair, how to market myself, and even how to communicate with my client.
ANYBODY can be taught how to cut hair, but you can’t teach someone how to interact with another person.
5 years of personal experience and an additional 10 months of school, I had finally gotten my license. Years of late night cuts for the homies, no social life, neck pain, hurt knees, skipped meals, mental exhaustion, sleepy days, hand aches and a tired body are what got me to where I am today. Don't get me wrong, my journey is just one of the many other out there in the world. The timing is different for everybody, but the more I'm in this industry, the more and more I realize that my learning has just begun. I am nowhere near where I want to be and I know that I have much more to learn.
10 Years (Present)
As of today, I have been cutting hair for 10 years. Never did I expect the grind to barely start. For so long I thought, "once I get this license it'll be a walk in the park."
My grind is barely beginning. The "years of late night cuts for the homies, no social life, neck pain, hurt knees, skipped meals, mental exhaustion, sleepy days, hand aches and a tired body" are still continuing today as much as they were back then. Believe it or not, much more has been added to the list. MUCH MORE.
Despite the list of problems(or whatever you want to call them), this industry... this craft... this lifestyle has pulled me in so deep that I don't even want to imagine my life without cutting hair.
So, back to the question that brought you here in the first place.
How long does it take to be a barber?
How long does it take to master every haircut? How long does it take to master a shave? How long does it take to learn how to fade? How long does it take to create a clientele?...
Truth is... You'll never fully complete your learning. We are forever students. A master barber is not a title someone receives after a certain amount of years of cutting hair. A true Master Barber is someone who has accepted the fact that his or her learning has no limitations. Every day is a new day. Every day should be treated as if you are still learning. Every day should be treated with a purpose.