Can You Cut The President's Hair?
By John Roseman
Taken from:CUTTING BLACK MEN’S HAIR (A PRACTICAL GUIDE)
There are a number of compelling reasons to learn how to cut black men’s hair: not the least of which is, should America’s top executive (President Barak Obama) require your grooming services, you, as a hair care professional, could confidently oblige him. When you light up the open sign on your salon or barber shop, you never know who’s going to come knocking. Here is another reason to learn how to cut black men’s hair. Black men seek professional grooming services at a far more frequent rate than their white male counterparts. Three weeks is far too long a stretch between haircuts for most black men and many will frequent the salon or barbershop as often as every week, making them exceptionally profitable clients. Being able to service patrons of varying hair types will help expand the possibilities for your career in the hair care profession.
Early in my haircutting career (before completing Barber College and becoming licensed) I worked at a salon in Southfield Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Typically, 100 percent of this salons clientele and staff were Black. One day when business was slow, the salon owner convinced a white delivery man to patronize his business by getting a haircut at this salon. It was early and I was the only staff available to do the haircut. Until this moment, I had only seen Caucasian hair. I’d never touched a white person’s hair before and had no clue as to cut it. After a short consultation with the gentleman, I commenced an attempt to give him a haircut. The gentleman’s hair was about 5-7 inches long and very straight. I began to attack his hair with electric clippers and began to work myself into a state of utter confusion. Anxiety, stress, frustration and utter humiliation began to grow as I failed miserably at cutting this very patient gentleman’s hair. This lasted for about a half hour or more until this customer and I were finally rescued when another stylist that was proficient in cutting straight hair types arrived to work. Right away, I noticed as she began confidently cutting his hair, that she had a totally different approach than I did. She cut his hair with shears after wetting it. Years later, my brother told me that he had a similar experience as a patron of a white stylist who began cutting his hair by combing it up between her fingers and cutting it with shears. Well, suffice it to say that my brother does not have hair that suits this haircutting technique.
Nearly five years after this first experience with cutting Caucasian hair; frustrated with how my haircutting career was going, I decided it was time for me to go back to Barber College. I felt that I had come to the point where not having a license was holding me down professionally and limiting my options in the business. So, I enrolled in a Detroit Barber College located in Dearborn Michigan. The Detroit Barber College was founded in Detroit and at some point moved to Dearborn, a suburb just north of Detroit. I had attended another barber college located in the city limits of Detroit for a short period about eight years before I enrolled into the Detroit Barber College. My experience, however, at the Detroit Barber College was quite different. The clientele was rather diverse at the Detroit Barber College, whereas the barber college I attended before was located in the city of Detroit and had an all black clientele. While the Detroit Barber College had a black clientele, there was also a significant Caucasian, Arab, Hispanic, and Indian patronage. Prior to me having enrolled into the Detroit Barber College, I had cut hair nearly 12 years; but up until this point my knuckles had not been is such great jeopardy. My instructor who was also the schools owner kept plenty of bandages around for us rookies who would accidentally cut our knuckles with shears as we practice techniques for cutting straight hair. Cutting straight hair was a whole new ballgame for me, but I was excited to learn and appreciated the opportunity to dramatically expand my professional skill set. At some point, I actually began to dodge some of the Blacks patrons in so that I could take advantage of every opportunity to develop and improve upon techniques for cutting straight hair types. I’d been cutting Black men’s hair for the last 12 years and it seemed to me that the greater value to me professionally at this point was practicing to become proficient with cutting, styling, and even coloring straight hair types.
The true test to my success in becoming competent and proficient with cutting straight hair types came when I got a position after completing my courses at Barber College. My first job as a licensed barber was cutting hair in a high end suburban salon. I was thrilled to have clients come back to me with stories about the compliments they’d gotten from their wives. Anyone who has ever cut hair knows that the compliments that a client receives on their hair after you’ve cut it will make it hard for them to go to someone else to get a haircut, if you’re available. It’s also a great feeling to have as a professional when you know that you don’t have to shy away from cutting a customer’s hair because of its texture. So if you’re a professional barber or stylist who has been avoiding textured hair, I hope this book is an inspiration for you to challenge yourself.
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