ESTETICA sat down with the U.S. winner of the American Crew 2014-2015 All-Star Challenge competition to tell us about how being a professional female barber overseas has changed her perspective and has inspired her to be even more ambitious than before.
Originally from Vancouver, WA, she took home the title and moved on to the American Crew All-Star Challenge Global Finals in Rome (Italy). Since then, she has bumped elbows with the top professionals in the industry and tells us about her experience in Rome and her new goals.
Why do you like working with men’s hair as opposed to women’s hair?
“I have done women’s hair before. I went to a school and got my cosmetology and barbering license so I always knew I wanted to go into it. It wasn’t that popular ten years ago, but now it’s starting to really blossom. David Raccuglia has done an amazing job by doing that with his 20 years of the American Crew brand. For the last year it’s been strictly men and the reason why I love it so much is because you can really see a change in a short time – only 20 minutes. You cut super long hair and change it to a short pompadour with a flip to the side. It’s amazing how dramatic that change can be; with women’s hair it take about two hours to see that. I like being to go through more heads. I just enjoy it. It doesn’t feel like work.”
What is your connection with American Crew and how did you decide to enter this competition?
“I got into the All-Star Challenge because our stores organized a competition where we had to create a haircut using American Crew products. Then we had a meeting for the competition at the shop where we were asked to enter. We were asked to bring a model and I was lucky enough to get in contact with my photographer and ask for a hookup with a model. He allowed me to go through his agency and so I found my model and I got my winning look.”
When was the first time you used American Crew products?
“I’ve been using American Crew products since I started hair school. So it’s been 9 years now. My favorite products are definitely the Defining Paste, Firm Hold Gel and I love the Liquid Wax, it takes out all of the frizz! American Crew is always coming up with great products; it’s an awesome brand.”
Has your life changed at all since your title as USA finalist for American Crew All-Star Challenge competition?
“Once a year, my barbershop put on a show of American Crew, and they teach educational classes with haircuts, so I got to go onstage and teach one of my haircuts, which was really nerve-racking because we have about 100 employees at shops so knowing that they know their craft so well and being up on stage, I was like what am I thinking. All the ladies I work with are truly amazing stylists. Being able to express myself about what I love to do and teaching hairstylists is just incredible. Follow your dream it can happen to anyone!”
Had you ever been outside the country professionally before the challenge?
“I had been out of the country for fun, but never for work. Going to Rome for a photo shoot was incredible. People keep on asking me, “How’s Rome?” and I would say that the photo shoot was great. I wasn’t there for a vacation; I was there to fulfill a dream of mine. I mean, that was my favorite day, the photo shoot! Being around peers who love their job as much as I do is just wonderful. My friends – they don’t love hair, they love their work. It’s hard to explain, if you love what you do, it’s not work.”
Did your experience with American Crew awaken new ambitions that you hadn’t considered prior to your experience in Rome?
“I’m friends with every single one of the All-Stars, even last year and the year before that – I follow them on Facebook and Twitter. I took a step back to reevaluate what I want to do, instead of just jumping into things. I wanted to really think about myself and see what the others are doing. They set the bar so high for everyone! So for me I know what I do want to do – I really would love to work with David Raccuglia.I have worked for David once in L.A., and then in Rome. I was very lucky because I was the only U.S. All Star who had worked with him twice. Working by his side is so inspiring.”
What kind of work would you like to do?
“I love being behind the scenes. I get really nervous when I have to stand onstage and talk to a crowd of people. If I can be behind the scenes, learn, help, and then eventually working my way up to being the one doing the haircut and having them photographed – I would love that. I know it is a very difficult position to get but I would simply love that.”
How does the industry react to a female barber? Are there benefits? Struggles?
“In the U.S. not really. In the shop there are only five men and the rest of the 100 people are women so to me that was very normal, but then I went to Rome and realize it was VERY uncommon to be a women barber. But since I do a lot of research I’ll see a lot of male and then only one woman barber. I think more women are starting to barber. I Google, I watch YouTube, and I am able to relate because I listen to people’s stories. Yeah, it might take a bit more time for women to relate, but if you just educate yourself, have the passion and drive, then it won’t feel like work.”
By Alejandra Acuña