About Back to School Haircuts

About Back to School Haircuts

About Back-to-School haircuts

I say it with love: Nothing is as random in a barber’s day as a child in our chair.

Here’s the 25-second short version

  • Make an appointment. Just trust me on this.
  • We’re not saving the world… Relax. Your child knows if you are tense about a situation, and you’re tense, they’re tense.
  • Go easy on the child – this probably isn’t a normal thing for them, yet (no matter how many times they’ve been to the Barber shop).
  • Make it a part of a fun day… it’s just one of the fun things we’re doing today.
  • It’s hair… Don’t force the haircut. Come back at another time, or even hang out for a while so they can see what happens and happy people.
  • Be flexible and patient… avoid making this a traumatic experience, and your next visit will probably work out much better.
  • Be okay with the haircut not happening… It can wait…. Give yourself a couple extra days in case your child needs to come back to adjust and/or complete a haircut.
  • Bring a photo of what you have in mind… your barber will do our best to get as close to it as we can
  • If you have to force your child to get a haircut, either physically or mentally, then a Barbershop is not the best place to take them (and I don’t want to be involved with being a part of a child’s traumatic experience). There are several salons and shops which are equipped and designed to help uncomfortable children be more comfortable in their surroundings.

Here’s the long and detailed version

This is a long read… but our children are worth it… and so are you.

I have a deep respect for barbers who are excellent with children. I once worked with a really young lady named Tori who was outstanding with children. She had a gift for making children comfortable, and she usually wound up getting good haircuts on them, as well.

In my experience, young children (seven years and younger) present a unique set of issues when getting their haircut. For many it is just not a pleasant experience, and can be scary. For a few, they think it’s painful.

I’ve kinda narrowed it down to three primary factors:

  • The child’s mindset and comfort
  • The parent(s)’ demeanor and expectations
  • The barber’s comfort

The child’s mindset and comfort

In the children’s defense, they are not in a barbershop very often, and it can be a strange place.

There’s a lot being asked of them…

  • sit on a cushion or a bench on top of another chair
  • wear a cape backwards (superheroes wear theirs on the back)
  • endure little tiny hairs falling all over the place and itching
  • don’t move their head while sharp blades are going all around their head, or worse, a big vibrating machine that is rattling their brains out
  • resist the ticklish reflex while another buzzing thing is running along their ears and neck
  • etc, etc, etc…

Most children don’t do these things in their day-to-day routine.

When a child gets scared (or when they are super-excited… this happens, too), they will flinch, jerk away, and move all over the place in all sorts of directions and contortions. These movements make giving a haircut a bigger challenge, at best, or at worst, create dangerous situations where someone can get hurt.

It’s important for parents (and barbers) to understand that this is not the child’s fault… helping them be comfortable (not compliant) is essential in getting a good haircut for them.

The parental presence

Unpopular opinion:
I can usually tell how the haircut is going to go by looking at the parents and getting a feel for their comfort level and mindset.

Sorry, parents… but a lot of this is on y’all (us).

When I see relaxed parents, I normally see relaxed children. When the parent is anxious or tense, usually the children are, too.

When a parent is controlling and prides themselves on being strong or in control, their child is usually compliant and afraid. They will say “yes” to anything the barber asks, and it is difficult to find out what they want… and these parents are usually the ones who will want several adjustments after the haircut is done. One of the tell-tale signs I see of this is them forcefully asking “are you sure this is what you want? Don’t you want _____?”

I could write a list of examples… such as

  • Unrealistic parents expecting to bring a one-year old in to have their head shaved.. I’ve had requests for bald fades #awwnawwhelllnaww
  • Frustrated parents full-on yelling at the child to sit down, hold still, and yes… to calm down
  • Parents ready for a fight, sitting the child on their lap, twisting their heads, and holding them with a vise-grip grasp
  • Angry parents forcing an already-crying child into the barber’s chair, escalating their tantrum
  • Cynical parents adding unnecessary fear-factors to the haircut with phrases like “sacrificial lamb” or “I’m going to tell them to give you a buzz cut”

I could go on and on with examples of where the parents’ mindsets are creating uneasy children.

The very first tip I would offer parents who want a happy haircut experience is to relax, themselves. The child’s first cue of how to feel is how the parent is feeling. If you’re tense, they’re going to be tense. If you’re relaxed and calm, they will be much closer to being relaxed and calm, themselves.

The barber’s mindset

One of my most influential mentors as a barber, Katie, breaks this down better than anyone I have ever heard break it down… If the child senses that the barber is not into giving this haircut, the kid’s not having it.

When a barber does not want to deal with a child, it shows… somewhere… and children can be incredibly in tune with how adults are feeling around them.

Conversely, when a barber naturally loves kids, children almost naturally respond well to it and give the barber a chance at making the haircut happen.

So what can we do to make a child’s haircut a happy experience?

Here’s what I’ve seen parents do for the happiest experience for everyone involved… most importantly, for their children.

Make the child’s haircut a part of a relaxed or fun day

From what I’ve experienced, the most successful haircuts (defined by the child having a positive experience and getting the desired haircut) have been when the haircut is part of a fun or relaxed day. It wasn’t its own event. It was part of a day of things happening, and there was usually something coming right after the haircut, like a fun restaurant, or a visit, or maybe a movie. The day is already a good day, and this is just part of it.

Be okay with the haircut not happening

I don’t know how many times I have heard that “they were great for their last haircut” or “they’re not usually like this.”

In my opinion, that’s perfectly okay. Kids (adults, too) can have their (our) moments where whatever is going on, they’re (we’re) not having it.

Some of my wisest barber mentors comment that sometimes, “the kid’s not gonna let it happen.”

Pro Tip: plan ahead… leave a couple days’ cushion for the chance to try again.

Related: don’t force the haircut

In short, if a haircut is turned into a traumatic experience, haircuts will continue to be traumatic for a longer time.

Lovingly hold when needed

On many occasions, I can take my time, let the child get used to being around the barbershop and the situation.

However, once in a while, sitting in the parent’s lap is the best option… it’s not as often as some would think, but when it is, I have had really good results.

There’s a fine line between having one’s child comfortable and forcibly holding a child in place… and I work hard to coach a parent to know where that line is, and not cross it. We want children to love being in their parent’s arms – and to be able to trust it.

I would much rather wait to cut their hair than to turn the parent’s embrace into something not to be trusted.

The most successful results have involved a phone for videos, and constant communication between me, the parent, and the child.

It seems that we’ve done even better when we play counting and holding breath games.

Most important: don’t get mad or frustrated with the child – praise the little victories along the way

I can’t say this enough… The child is in a very unfamiliar environment and things are happening that they just don’t see from day to day.

Celebrate their bravery, and praise the good job they are doing… because they are being very brave.

So what’s the barber’s part in all this?

As a barber, my job is to provide a positive experience and to treat the person (or people) in my chair as VIPs… and we might even get a haircut done!

When I am cutting a child’s hair, my primary focus is on their experience… the haircut is secondary… I’ll even sacrifice the haircut for the sake of their experience.

It’s my job to make it as happy as I can for them, and as stress-free for the parents. I have a whole bag of tricks to help the child feel comfortable and engage – and sometimes they work!

I also have a feather-light touch… there are times there they didn’t even realize their hair was getting cut until they started seeing hair fall down somewhere.

The next time they are in my chair, I want them having good memories of me and of being in my chair. If we can do that, there’s a good chance that they will let just about anything happen during their next visit (or maybe it will take a couple more visits).

When I am actually cutting, my primary focus is their safety and the safety of anyone else in or around my chair… including the parent and myself. I have worked very hard to develop my reflexes to quickly move my tools out of the way of their sudden movements, and have put in a lot of time to try to predict things children will do before making a sudden move.

Will I stop or refuse a haircut?

The majority of kids in my chair will usually tolerate getting the hair out of their eyes, off their collar, and clippered somewhat.

Some kids will allow a close buzz cut, and a few will even show the patience to get a faded haircut.

…and I will give them the absolute best cut that they will allow me to give them.

However, there are two situations where I will absolutely stop a haircut, and it will not restart until the situation is handled.

When safety is at risk

This is a no-brainer… or it should be. When a child puts themselves or anyone else at risk, I stop the cut.

I would rather send a child out of the chair with half a haircut than injure someone.

(Pro tip: this often gets their attention a couple minutes later when they realize that they only have half a haircut and they don’t want to leave looking like that… and when it doesn’t, give them a day or two to figure it out… they almost always come around, and haircuts become a lot less traumatic for them.)

When the haircut is becoming a traumatic experience for the child

If a haircut is allowed to become a traumatic experience, it will continue to be a very difficult time for what could be a long while… and that goes completely against my goal of making their haircut a happy and positive time for them.

It’s true that most kids eventually outgrow this awkward stage… yet we as parents can help and make the entire experience better for the child.

Barbers tend to see kids over a long period of time. Stories of barbers watching kids grow up and then cutting those kids’ kids’ hair are commonplace. A lifelong bond is often built when this is happening.

With great beard comes great responsibility

With great beard comes great responsibility

With great beard comes great responsibility

One of the barbers I work with, Keith, tells this story:

A man his my chair was telling him about the time he started his beard. He wasn’t into doing it, but then his wife said “you know how you like it when I put on my bikini? A man’s beard does the same thing for a woman!”

That’s pretty big… a woman I know says that kissing a man without a beard is like drinking champagne without bubbles.

A man’s beard says a lot about him and his lifestyle… not from a financial standpoint, but it tells who the man is… It’s kinda like if you want to know how a person lives, look inside their car. If the car is trashed out with fast food bags and wrappers, it gives you an idea of how they live their lives.

When a man has a dirty and unkempt beard, it tells a story long before their personality gets to be seen, and mars that first impression.

Here are a couple daily things you can do in between barber visits to maintain your beard until the next beard trim…

Trimming the edges

Keeping your beard’s growth at bay takes a moment, but this one step will do wonders for your beard in between your visits to the barber.

Take a small pair of scissors and stand in front of the mirror. Look for hairs which are sticking out outside the main body of the beard, and use the scissors to trim them down.

Only do this for the long hairs sticking pretty far out.

Going after the hairs which aren’t too far out of the main body of the beard can open a can of worms. What often occurs is that the beard’s wearer is working so hard to make it perfect that by the time they have gotten all of the small hairs sticking out, they have actually whittled the beard down shorter than desired and often into a different unbalanced shape.

Use a beard wash – specifically

For most men, beard hair is built differently than the rest of the hair on the head. It is different structurally, and it is also much curlier and coarser. A beard wash is designed for the beard, specifically.

Let me put it this way: If you are reading this, you probably don’t use bar soap or body wash in your hair. Why? Because shampoo and conditioner are specifically made for washing and maintaining hair, and you notice a difference between the two.

Using a beard wash instead of shampoo in your beard will be the same difference as using shampoo instead of regular soap on your hair.

Sure, there are many things which you can do with your beard to make it more presentable and pleasant for everyone around you. I am personally a big fan of beard softeners.

However, if you simply do these two things, you will notice a big difference in how your beard looks and feels.

Shout out to all my bald friends!

Shout out to all my bald friends!

Shout out to all my bald friends!

I talk with business people of all industries, and I am often who my ideal client is… and they are surprised when I say “bald heads!”

Giving someone a bald head shave is one of my favorite services to provide. It’s a service which allows my client to shut down the world, turn off the phone, and simply relax.

It’s not about removing the hair

While it is counter-intuitive, the vast majority of the head-shave clients in my chair are not too concerned with taking the hair off their head.

With all the options that people have nowadays, like foil shavers, skull shavers, disposable razors, and even depilatory creams and waxes, if someone wants to shave their head bald at home, it is a fairly simple task.

Of course they want the hair removed, and today’s trimmers and shavers do a good job of touching up razor shaves.

It’s about relaxing

A head shave is more about helping my client to relax.I use a variety of skin and scalp moisturizers and treatments along with a procession of steam towels.

The moist heat of the towels opens pores and soothes the skin.  It is not uncommon for a client to fall asleep during this process.

Steam, moisturizing, oils, and more

When someone sits in my chair, I remove excess hair and then begin massaging the scalp with a pre-shave lotion treatment. This lotion includes aromatherapy elements and soothing natural ingredients, and prepares the skin for the work which is about to take place. I steam this in with a hot towel until the skin is supple and open to allow the oils to take over.

I apply a generous amount of shaving oil whenever I perform a shave service. This oil is a blend of natural ingredients which provide a slick surface for blades to glide across and help the skin to avoid irritation. Then I add a gel on top which, when combined with the oil, produces the slickest and slipperiest shaving surface that I have ever experienced

After the shave, I apply an astringent after shave to clean the skin and microabrasions from the razor. Then I put a vanishing cream on the skin which cools, soothes, and moisturizes the skin, working it in with a final steam towel.

The sharpest razor blades

It sounds weird to tell someone that I use a razor blade which is even sharper than the one I used to use. However, a couple of months ago, another barber turned me on to the blades which I am currently using. They cut even better than the ones I was previously using, which were amazingly sharp, themselves.

Always trying new techniques

I am naturally curious about how other barbers practice their craft. I compare it to handwriting… we may all write the same thing, yet we will all write in different ways.

Barbering is the same..so I keep my eyes open for newer and better ways to do things, whether it is a new hairstyle, a different way to cut patterns into hair, or a new technique to use my tools – similarly to when I was turned onto a simpler way to execute a fade into a haircut. It is part of why I place a very high value on hair shows.

A Paraffin Hand Dip with My Haircut?

A Paraffin Hand Dip with My Haircut?

A paraffin hand dip with my haircut?

This was new to me…. I had gone to Boardroom Hair Salon for Men as a live model for a student who was taking the technical part of her job interview. This is where the shop gets a chance to see an interviewee cut hair and get an idea of their skill level and how they work.

So when the student had finished cutting my hair, the manager asked if she could shampoo my hair (which makes sense), and to go wash my hands, which was new… I’ve never been asked to wash my hands for a shampoo service before.

Then hand sanitizer… check…

Then she asked me to place my hands into two warming pots… and I was receiving my first paraffin dip.

I didn’t know the first thing about paraffin, or most spa services… but my hands felt great afterwards… cleaner, maybe? Definitely softer and just more comfortable.

So now that I am learning to administer these dips, I figured I may as well learn about what it does and why…

Paraffin is a wax – what I have seen has been a whitish, almost clear wax. There’s no scent to it, and it is a soft wax which is melted, and then applied. It is used in spa services, industrial settings for lubrication and insulation, and at home in objects like candles, and even crayons.

It is an emollient (which simply means that it softens the skin… I had to look it up). So it makes your hands soft, both while being applied and afterward, continuing to add moisture for some time. The hands feel softer and smoother. It is also used on feet and dry patches of skin in many spas.

The treatment is moist heat. Paraffin wax has a low melting point, so it is warm and soothing without being so hot that it burns your skin.

When applied, it opens the pores on the skin, and can increase blood circulation while relaxing your muscles at the same time. Studies have shown that it can decrease joint stiffness, and reduce inflammation. Some say that it helps with muscle spasms and sprains.

As the wax is removed, it removes dead skin cells at the same time. It also softens calluses and cracked skin. Its moisturizing properties are good for chapped skin.

While all tests have shown that paraffin wax is safe, precautions do apply and you should look further into it before getting a treatment if you have very sensitive skin, or poor blood circulation, diabetes, numbness, rashes, open sores (or “the usual suspects” as my friend describes it). Also, it is a petroleum product, so if you are sensitive to chemicals, you should look further into it, as well, before receiving a paraffin dip.

After my paraffin hand dip, my hands felt fantastic for several days. I recommend getting it done at least once a month to my clients as part of a monthly “take care of myself” session.

Donating Hair in Atlanta

Donating Hair in Atlanta

How to Donate Hair in Atlanta

Scheduling note: The next hair donation day is Tuesday, February 27. If you would like to schedule a hair donation cut, text me directly at 404-784-2811. Do NOT schedule through the shop. Otherwise, you may get charged for the haircut.

There have been a few times when someone would sit in my chair ready to donate their hair. I remember the first time this occurred… as I was speaking with the donor, they told me about someone in their family undergoing chemotherapy, and the connected hair loss.

It was early in my career, and they were asking me questions which I had no answers to… luckily someone else in the shop had done several hair donation cuts.

Over time, I started seeing more people sitting in my chair to donate, and most recently was a long-time friend of mine who made it a point to donate her hair every couple of years.

I tied the hair off into ponytails and we cut the locks off, and then put them into a bag for her to donate (six really good tails!)

At that time, I decided that I wanted to know more about hair donation and what it entails. I learned that there are several different organizations who collect hair to make wigs for cancer patients and others.

I also know another step I need to take the next time I cut hair for donation purposes.

I was going to write a whole blog post about it, but there are some folks who have already done such a wonderful job of it that I’d like to simply direct people to their websites rather than reinvent the wheel, so to speak.

These organizations and authors list the requirements and procedures for donating hair.

If you are considering donating your hair, this information is very handy for you to know, and when you are ready to cut the locks off, let me know and I would be honored to do it for you.

Tap the titles below to be taken to each respective website.

Cancer.net: How to Donate Your Hair to Help People With Cancer

Knowledge Conquers Cancer – From the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), detailed information of things to consider and how to prepare for donating hair. 

Locks of Love

Locks of Love is the name that comes up most often when people talk to me about donating their hair.

Local Adventurer: Your Complete Guide on When and How to Donate Hair

The title sums it up nicely. She also lists and details several organizations for you to look at when deciding on where to make your donation.

Love to Know: Best Places to Donate Hair and Quick How-to Guide

More advice on choosing organizations, preparation, and how to donate your hair

Wigs for Kids: Ponytail Guidelines

Wigs for Kids makes wigs for children who have lost their hair to cancer. These are their guidelines and directions for how to donate hair through teir organization.

Hair Droppings

Hair Droppings

Hair Droppings

Little things I’ve noticed and learned from behind the chair…

There aren’t many things that match the pure joy on a child’s face or their laughter when they just ripped one in your chair.

Many people tell me that they have the world’s worst cowlick.

A teen who goes into detail in conversation is often up to something.

When someone says they want a mullet, it will take you a few minutes to determine if they mean Patrick Swayze or “Achy-Breaky”

“Thank you and welcome home!” is probably the greatest thing we can say to a Vietnam War veteran…. or any Veteran, for that matter.

A barber’s license does not mean that you know how to cut hair any more than a driver’s license means that you know how to drive.

“It’ll grow back” is the most common comment I hear from men.

Saying “Sir,” “Ma’am,” and “Thank You” is alive and well.

Pictures of your haircuts do not lie.

Telling the barber what they want is a rite of passage toward manhood for boys.

The lollipop is one of the greatest inventions, ever.

No matter how good a haircut is, it can always be better.

The proper use of the word “booger” forms an ironclad bond of trust between a barber and a client.

There are few luxuries in life which equal a hot towel on the neck or face.

A haircut is a rare break of peace and quiet – or pure diversion.

If you travel between shops and keep your gear in the car overnight, the first client is in for a really cold surprise with that first spray of water.

There sure are a lot of guys getting their haircut the day of the wedding.

Quiet haircuts can be relaxing, too.

“You ain’t sh*t.” — Mr. Smith

The art of barbering is an ongoing learning process… Always continue to grow yourself and your skills.

Hair splinters are a way of life.

Proper preparation makes for a much smoother day.

The inventor of the Bobblehead must have gotten their inspiration from seeing kids getting their hair cut.


One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One OOPS!

One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One OOPS!

One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One OOPS!

One thing that I really love about the barber life is that we deal with real life, both the ups and the downs. I often tell people in the chair that they can be open with me and tell me what’s going on in their lives… it’s the “hairapist” side of what we do.

A couple weeks ago, one of my clients called and said “hey, I really gotta come in tonight, can you fit me in?”

He liked to wear his hair about a medium length, and when he came in the door, everything seemed to be okay… then he took off his hat and I saw the other side of his head…

Well, he had been to a party the night before… you probably already know where this is going.

He had tried to trim his own hair with a pair of clippers. Now if you’re not familiar with how haircuts work, clippers are usually used for short haircuts, or for the back and sides of medium-length haircuts and/or certain styles.

He had shaved nearly the entire right side of his head down to 1/4 inch. This length isn’t necessarily a disaster on its own. I cut several styles which do the same thing and leave the hair longer on top. However, he had cut it up nearly to the top of his head, so it was going to take some work to even things out and make it look right, albeit a different style, but not too big of a change. Within a few weeks, his hair would grow back to his original style.

…and then I saw the rest of the story… He had also cut a stripe into the back of his head at about 1/16 of an inch, which changed the whole picture, and I was going to have to get creative.

The good news was that he hadn’t gone any shorter in that section, and that he hadn’t gone any further up than he had, so I was able to bring the whole bottom section down to the same length and blend most of his head up to the length of the longer cut that he had put in.

The bad news is that he had gone up so high on the side that I had to reduce the length everywhere on top and match the other side, and his hair was thinning out toward the top of his head’s back side (which was a big part of why he kept it long to help cover it).

We ended up with a young athletic style cut in a way in which we can guide his style back to where it was originally and minimize the awkward stage that occurs when someone with short hair decided to grow it out.

The big takeaway from all this is that when it comes to hair, mistakes get made. And in most cases, it can be overcome and the person can have their original style back before too awfully long. Sometimes, it will need some guidance and maintenance along the way, but it can be done.

Our visit to The Boardroom Men’s Salon & Grooming

Our visit to The Boardroom Men’s Salon & Grooming

Our visit to The Boardroom Men’s Salon & Grooming

This past Thursday, one of our students at Gwinnett Barber Institute was invited to interview with The Boardroom Men’s Salon & Grooming to be a barber in their Madison Yards/Reynoldstown location.

She needed a live model to demonstrate her cutting skills, so I volunteered. I’m very picky about who cuts my hair… although I had never seen her cut straight hair before, I had confidence in her skills (I also had my regular barber ready to come behind her just in case).

I want to give a big THANK YOU to Jennifer Rodgers, the Operations Manager of The Boardroom, for allowing us to bring a couple of our students along to see what an important part of the barbering hiring process looks like.

Note: If this sounds more like a glowing review of The Boardroom than a Thank You post, I guess it probably is… they give the kind of experience that I aspire to give my clients, and I haven’t seen many present-day barbershops doing it in this manner.

About The Boardroom

Calling The Boardroom a Barber Shop is somewhat of a misnomer. It is the kind of shop that I would usually refer to as a full-service luxury barbershop. It is unrushed, and is far more than “just a haircut.” The service is a relaxing experience for the customer, first and foremost… hence the “Men’s Salon & Grooming.”

That having been said, the haircut is far from being secondary. I received the most compliments on my hair I have ever received (more on that later). I was watching the other stylists in the room, and noted how jealous I was of one of the ladies’ shear work.

It is the kind of barbershop that any barber should want to model the level of customer service they provide… one that any barber could be proud of being a part of. All barbershops/salons have some sort of metric as to how long a client should take for a service – but you would never know it watching the barbers and other service providers as they relaxed and were unrushed. I think most people have a story of being in the chair of a barber who was just trying to get them done and out (whether they knew it or not).

The Boardroom has several locations through the Southeast. From the outside, it looks like a company which is matching the mentality of a growing company with standards, while maintaining customers’ luxury that a barber shop can provide. I hope they can keep this going, because I think they have a good thing.

How the interview went

We were there for the practical part of the job interview… Sure, anybody can talk a good game, but can they cut? Can they cut what that location needs to cut? I’ve been cutting for three years… there are some barbershops which I fit in like a glove, some where I’ll need some training in their style of cutting, and some which I’ll need to get a few more years under my belt before I consider cutting there. The practical examination is a big part of any barbershop/salon interview because it shows the manager/owner whether the barber is the right fit for their shop.

Our student, Cydney, set up at one of the stations. She already knew that I had my barber as my safety net, so she was at liberty to do whatever she needed to do for the interview. As she was cutting my hair, I was watching the other cutters in the room, noticing how well the customers were being treated and how comfortable they were.

Cydney cut my hair in a way which I had never had it cut before – and it was a style which wasn’t really aware that my hair could really pull off.

I don’t think I have ever seen Cydney work on straight hair before. Many barbers whom I’ve seen work primarily on curly hair hair seem to get uneasy when they get a pair of shears in their hands. However, she seemed very natural with them in her hands, and she was very efficient with them.

When she showed me what she had put together, I was pretty happy with what I saw, and I was going to tell my barber that everything as good.

Then the manager stepped in… the next level

Everywhere I have worked has had some sort of protocol for quality control… it usually doesn’t mean that the primary person is doing a bad job, and it often involves the manager is putting the polishing touches while the employee is learning and developing. The best managers I have seen make it a seamless process, and know how to make a learning opportunity without the client even knowing it, or if they do, they see it in a positive manner.

I got blindsided… Jennifer said “Let me go shampoo his hair.”

I often encourage barbers (and people in general) to take care of themselves and to allow themselves to enjoy luxury services from time to time. I specifically tell barbers to do this so that they experience what luxury and personal service feels like. I tell them about the foot massage artists at May’s Massage in Marietta. I tell them to go get a manicure/pedicure once a month or every six weeks…

I have added getting Boardroom’s Benchmark Haircut to the list.

Jennifer led us into a separate room which was dimly lit with several shampoo stations. It also had soft music playing – an automatically relaxing experience – and then walked me through a relaxing paraffin hand dip which I’m going to have to add to my monthly regimen… it left my hands smoother than they have ever felt, and it may be my imagination, but I haven’t noticed any of the little pains in my hands which seem to go with being a barber.

She also did a beard wash with a steam towel treatment, and what is probably the most relaxing facial massage I have had while getting shampooed.

The students witnessed a whole other level of customer service and were wowed. One of them said that they were going to have to make sure they have a room like that when they build their barber shop in the future.

When we returned to the chair, she did some finishing touches to my hair – it was as if she has already entered training mode for our student, but only a barber would know it had happened.

After the interview

Jennifer spent some of her time answering questions from the students. She told them about the things she looks for when bringing a barber on board. Then she spoke about the the continuing education which her shops give, and invited them to sit in on some of the monthly classes which they hold.

I trust that the conversation between her and Cydney afterward was productive, as well.

Trying to use barber terms can lead to unintended results

Trying to use barber terms can lead to unintended results

Trying to use barber terms can lead to unintended results

I’ll never forget the look on his face…

…even after I asked him if he was sure three times.

About a year ago, some kid – he couldn’t have been more than 14-16 years old – sat down in my hair. His hair grew pretty close to perfectly straight out of his head. If someone were to say “make an afro out of straight hair,” this would be about as close as you could make it.

I remember his hair being a bit higher than a business card, but not quite as long… so somewhere between 2-3 inches, or so… but it was pretty long and stood high on his head.

He said “Take it down to an inch and a half – use a #5 on it.”

I told him that he had just told me that he wanted two different things, so let’s talk for a moment to make sure of what he wanted before I start cutting.

“Nah, use a number 5.”

“Are you sure?”

I have a personal procedure that I follow when someone is about to make a big change to their hair… or when I think they are asking me to do something without really knowing what it is…

I will ask “are you sure” three times… and then I will let them know that I am asking a third time before I start cutting.

There are guys who sit in my chair who have kept their hair a certain way for a long time or who will try different things along the way. They’re easy to spot. Their hair already looks good, it’s just time for a cleanup, and they know what was used in the past, and they know what to tell the barber. Most guys in my chair with a short hair style use one of the same three lengths, and it’s simple to keep their hair consistent.

This wasn’t one of those times… and I’ll never forget the look on his face as I went down the middle of his head with the requested #5… leaving just over half an inch of hair.

Barbers want to give you what you want… it is important to us. So if you request a certain guard, or use a barber’s term, we will go to work on it. If there is ever any doubt, it is far better to talk about it before the barber starts cutting (if you have a picture, that is even more helpful).