Read as Craig the Barber talks about his career. Find him at www.craigthebarber.com and on his Twitter feed in sidebar of this interview.
What do you do for a living?
I am a barber by trade and a men’s grooming expert by profession.
How would you describe what you do?
What the above statement means is that I provide consulting advice to men’s grooming companies, am frequently interviewed for popular publications like Men’s Health magazine about men’s grooming topics, run a popular men’s grooming website called TheMensRoom.com and also provide barbering services through my on-location business, The Grooming Concierge.
What does your work entail?
When it comes to the barbering aspect of the business my primary goal is to provide haircuts and shaves to customers on a weekly basis. I do this both on an as-needed service for my on-location clients as well as part-time at the barbershop.
What’s a typical work week like?
My services are provided by appointment only, so my typical work week is dictated by how many customers are slated for services for the week. On an average week I will typically start servicing customers at noon and see my last client of the day at 6pm, and I keep this schedule 4-5 days a week. The total number of customers can range anywhere from 20-30 per week with anywhere from 1-3 services performed per customer.
The time prior to barbershop obligations as well as any downtime in between clients is dedicated to running TheMensRoom.com and all of its many facets (i.e. emails, social media, writing blogs, etc.).
My typical work week begins..
At 8:30am Monday – Friday: Completing assignments for TheMensRoom.com and other men’s grooming publications.
At 11:30am Wednesday – Saturday: Setting up my workstation at the barbershop to ready for my first appointment at noon.
At 7pm Wednesday – Friday: Closed for business
At 5pm Saturday: Closed for business
How did you get started?
I started out of sheer necessity! At the age of 14 my father bought a pair of clippers in order for me to learn how to cut my own hair, because my parents would not pay for me to go to the barbershop as often as I would like. So I taught myself to cut hair by watching barbers at the barbershops, and gained enough confidence to give it at try on my own hair. After many trial and errors (with an emphasis on the “errors”), I successfully managed to learn how to cut my own hair… and cut it well!
After a while, a few of my friends saw that I truly developed a knack for cutting hair and I began cutting theirs as well. I continued this throughout high school and college and later left my career in banking to pursue professional barbering full-time.
What do you like about what you do?
I find great satisfaction in helping my clients look and feel good. As most men know, a few weeks after a haircut it becomes difficult to maintain that sharp looking, fresh-from-the-barber appearance with a grown out hairstyle or beard. So being able to assist in making over a client and giving a man a fresh new look makes me feel good, because they feel good!
What do you dislike?
I am not a big fan of customers that are chronically late and/or are last minute appointment setters. Tardiness generally shows me that these clients do not value my time. Last minute appointment setters generally mean that these clients place their grooming priorities on the back burner in hopes of getting squeezed in between other appointments, and not allowing me the opportunity to dedicate the proper time and attention to their service. So therefore the perfectionist in me does not like to take these types of calls.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I am typically paid after the service by cash, credit or debit card.
How much money do Barbers make?
The good thing about this profession is that with the right skill-set and attitude there is no limit to the amount of money that can be made in this industry. A barber can go from working at a shop, to renting a chair, to owning their own barbershop and or product-line.
With that being said, it takes time for a barber to hone his/her craft and build a reputation. So based on my experience the average barber can look to make $24,000 their first year and quickly see a steady $5k – $7k increase per year. However this can differ drastically depending on time, effort and cost of service.
End result is the capability of barbers to command a salary upwards of $60,000+ per year.
How much money did/do you make starting out?
I started out making close to $27,000 my first year.
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
The education needed is a barbering license. Requirements differ from state to state as to how many hours are needed in order to take the state exam. As of today, the State of California requires 1,500 hours.
What is most challenging about what you do?
The biggest challenge I have faced is making time for myself and my family. After a barber/client bond has been created, it can be difficult to take time away from the shop because it can be easy to feel an obligation to be there for your customers when they need you, often resulting in long work weeks and little personal or down time. This becomes an even bigger challenge when a family and children are added to the mix!
What is most rewarding?
The long-lasting relationships that are created through the years have been one of the greatest gifts I have received from my profession. A barber gets a bird’s eye view into the lives of many of their customers and through this there is a bond that is created. This connection, in many cases, places the barber almost in the role of being a friend, confidant or sometimes even a part of the family!
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
The one thing I realized after working a very short time in this business is that a big part of a barber’s job, is to be able to carry on a great conversation. Our job is not only provide a great service, but to also keep your client entertained though an array of topics. This creates a memorable experience for the client, and a long and fruitful career.
How much time off do you get/take?
The decision to take time off from work typically falls in line with most corporate jobs, which is around 2-3 weeks per year. The only challenge is orchestrating this time off around the needs of your customers. The best advice is to establish a block of days off throughout the year in the beginning of your career. This way it never changes and it’s easy for your clients to get used to you not being available for a set period of time.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Well, the most common misconception would be the impression that barbers are not skilled beyond creating hairstyles outside of using hair clippers whereas most barbers have comparably the same skill set as hairstylists/cosmetologists when it relates to hair. So the concern that a barber may not be able cut long hair, or create trendsetting hairstyles shouldn’t be a concern at all. I also perfom skin analysis and treatments.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
My goal is to help bring greater awareness to the barber trade by showing the world that barbers are fully capable of being the go-to men and women for all men’s grooming advice, tips and services. This goal is a big one, but I believe that with men becoming more concerned about their appearance the need for knowledgeable barbers will be of greater importance. So my presence in this industry is one that I hope will help to challenge more barbers to take on this responsibility, and bring the men back to the barbershops.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
Overall, I would like everyone who reads this interview to know that the barbering profession is one that can be very lucrative and also gratifying at the same time. The fact that on average there’s a new customer that will be in your chair every hour allows you the opportunity to have a new experience with every appointment. You don’t get to enjoy that type of variety with most jobs! Not to mention, when you love what you do it no longer feels like a job. And that, to me, is the best part!