A Stylist’s Best Friend: Any Guy
This article originally appeared on StyleSeat.
“Rose, this is my son. He wants a haircut.” said my mom. “No maybe I don’t,” I thought to myself. So began my first visit to a hair stylist — a little shop on Castle Hill in the Bronx (New York) where I grew up and spent my weekends. At the ripe age of 11, I was done with the Italian barbers my dad forced me to visit, and now I was, gulp, about to get my first “real” haircut.
I was surrounded by mostly old(er) women watching the little kid sitting in the big chair. Cut, snip, buzz — what the hell was going on? I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I spun ‘round in the chair and saw the shorn chia was shaped like my head.
Rose was an innovator, it turns out. When all was said and done, I had basically the first disconnected undercut. The back tapered to a point, the duck’s ass. Now let me put this in context. This is 31 years ago. I was 11. I lived in a suburb of New York City and here I was, looking like some B-boy commando. I’m pretty sure I didn’t talk to my mom for the rest of the day.
Monday, I went back to school ready for the ridicule. It came slow and steady from all sides, like a root canal waiting for release. This just wasn’t the kind of thing you did to your hair. Even the teachers were surprised. But what can you do. You live, you learn, you move on. And immediately start growing your hair out.
I learned one very important lesson that day — make sure you know who is cutting your hair. It’s a sad and strange misconception that guys don’t care who cuts their hair — nothing could be further from the truth. It’s easy to win a client for life — give a guy a haircut that he loves, or more importantly, one that everyone he thinks matters, loves. Get him compliments, he’s locked in. Get him laid, you’re set for life. Pretty damn easy.
Then there was Grace.
She was my first adult hairdresser. She worked at a salon on Broadway at 14th. I wandered in one day, probably because of the cute receptionist, and stayed for the haircut. Grace cut my hair for years. Then one day I returned, and she had moved on. Panic set in. PANIC. The calm comfort of not having to worry about this one part of your life was now set spinning. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep. You just can’t function. Before there were awesome tools to help you know what’s up (hint, hint), basically you were up “Shit’s Creek” whenever your stylist moved on. Luckily, I found her. Life was good again.
A good stylist is hard to find. I know a lot of guys who have a great barber, but when you ask them who they say, it’s just “some guy”. Why won’t they share? Because those greedy bastards don’t want the risk of you finding their guy, making it harder for them to book, and even worse, what if you get the same freaking haircut. No, not gonna happen. My stylist is mine. I did the hard work to find him and you’ve got to go that journey yourself my so-called-friend. Sheesh.
A good stylist is a trusted advisor and friend. They hear your stories and listen well. They remember all your ups and downs. They give you good advice, test your limits, and unlock your confidence. It’s more than the skills, it’s the art.
A good stylist is all you need. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are crazy for driving an hour, or waiting 3, to see them. They just don’t know what special is.
Oh, and if you need a great stylist in SF, check out Ernesto! And no, I am not gonna give you any more info on him, duh.
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Gregarious Narain is a serial entrepreneur and product strategist. A reformed designer and developer, He writes on his experiences as a founder, strategist, and father on the regular. Connect with him on LinkedIn or say hi on Twitter.