My experience with barbers is awfully limited… maybe because I’m a girl and don’t really go to a barber. But from afar, I’ve always viewed them as guys with razors who know everything about everyone. If the movies were to be believed, they always know the latest gossip and sports news. To be honest, I never really thought barbering would be hard. It turns out that there’s a lot of responsibility behind a haircut, and that there’s more to it than just running a razor over someone’s head. This interview with neo-traditional barber Willow Hoods gives us a fresh and new perspective about the art of barbering.
Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.
I’m a neo-traditional barber influenced by straightedge / punk hardcore music culture.
What are the common misconceptions about your line of work?
I try to stay positive so I will only talk about one negative thing about our profession. Some people don’t understand how difficult barbering actually is. Yes, we have fun; yes we love what we do. But they don’t realize the physical and mental toll of it. We stand and talk almost ALL DAY and we deal with the public, too. Did you know that full-time barbers don’t have health insurance? That’s one of the reasons why I thought twice before leaving the corporate world. Barbers are independent contractors. I have worked my ass off until now to get me to where I want to go.
Describe your typical work day.
Cutting hair is the easiest part. It’s about the people that come in all day, every day and talk. It’s keeping a good conversation going, not being grumpy, being clean, being able to talk with the people you work with. Then of course, it goes back to cutting hair— to be able to do a good clean haircut. But I always tell people the haircut is the smallest part of it. To be able to stand on your feet all day, talk all day and get along with the other people in the shop is a much bigger part. It’s the interaction with the clients that makes a barber elite; it separates the good from the great.
What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
The power to change someone’s image with just a haircut. I love that reveal when I hand them a mirror or show them the picture on my camera. Full transformation cuts bring me so much joy because they have no idea sometimes what their beard or hair can look like or having something they’ve never had before.
On the flipside, what’s the hardest part of your job? What makes it fulfilling? Will you trade it for something else?
Barbering isn’t a glamorous “check how cool you look on instagram” type of job. Everyday is a grind. It’s long hours on your feet, constant learning and attention to the cut at hand. Listening and interacting with customers from morning to night. Skipping lunches to keep going at that queue! But we love it beyond words. There are so many positive things beyond the creative elements but what makes it more special is the people we work with. The relationships we form with like-minded, passionate and down to earth people who share the same love. It’s tough and it’s absolutely a slog some days but my god it never feels like “work”.
Any message to those who want to pursue the same career? What does it take to be successful or happy in your field?
Just going for it, basically. People say I march to the beat of my own drum, which I do. Whatever I want to do, I do it. I go a hundred miles at whatever I do, and people dig that.
You can reach Willow through:
contact number : 09062763556