I can’t begin to stress how much education means to a barber. It is quite literally the difference between a clean, precise haircut, and a haircut that leave your customers fleeing your barbershop looking for another one. Maybe you live in a small town and your barbering licensing program was haphazard. Perhaps your original teacher or mentor wasn’t as great as they made themselves out to be. There is a good chance that you weren’t paying that much attention during your schooling and were smoking blunts outside the door before you went in, because you thought you were better than that. Whatever it may be, I’m going to tell you right now, be humble, you are never too far into this game to learn more.
- You’ll Never Know Everything
You can’t know everything there is to know about something. You can’t start your career as a master, you have to learn how to become one. I know I’m not a master yet. I believe I am a very good overall barber that isn’t afraid of any hair type, any hair length, knows urban and classic styles, knows chemical work (colours, perms, straighteners). But there are holes in my education. I can become a better barber in many ways, and when I look at my improvement in my craft in the past years it comes down a few key ideas.
- Be fearless
You are going to make mistakes through your entire life. Make your mistakes early and leave them in the past. Fearing new ideas or techniques you can’t do is never going to help you improve. Find a guinea pig, or a couple of them, and give them some horrible haircuts. The sooner you get the bad out of the way, the better.
- Be a student
Find mentors. Seek out the best people in your area and work with them in some capacity. You can never do this too soon. Sweep the floors, maintain good communication and over everything else, learn what you can. If you have to switch barbershops to learn what you can from different people, do this early in your career, as you want to do what you can to maintain consistency with your customer base early. If you can’t find them in person, search online. There are so many different ways to find education online. YouTube is a huge contributor to barbering education and there are so many different barbers that you can learn from and so many different styles that you can learn. You can always reach out to any of these online contributors and ask them questions about something you are having a hard time with. Travel as much as you can afford to learn more. Hit up barber shows, competitions, look as far and wide as you can. Look into hairdressing even.
- Be curious
Be a searcher of knowledge and technique and don’t let anything stop you while you do it. Learn from everything around you, the people, books, the internet, through trial and error, by competing in competitions, or going to barber conventions and taking in whatever education you can. Don’t ever consider yourself to be better than any other barber, they may know a little technique that will change the way you cut hair. It may seem stupid and simple to ask questions, but I believe the curious are the ones that are successful. Don’t let yourself become and stale. Curiosity is the key to keeping it fresh.
- Be an educator
There is nothing quite like trying to explain something to others to clarify the ideas in your head. When you teach someone your technique and how you do something, you are allowing for the information that you have learned to return to the collective. To me there is nothing more satisfying than passing along your information to others and allowing them to become better at what they do.