Take one look at Pope the Barber and you’ll be able to see that she’s a person who lives true to herself: from the striking haircut to the intricate network of tattoos, Pope makes an immediate impact. Interviewing her for this show, I found her to be down to earth and full of wisdom – making her the perfect person for up and coming barbers to learn from.
Of course, the alias Pope and the fact that she’s named her barbershop the Vatican are also pretty good sign that this is a barber who’s happy to think outside the box. I tell Pope that walking into the shop for the first time is a little awestriking… Instagram just doesn’t do it justice:
“It is an awesome space, but that’s what I that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to make it you know look cooler on Instagram. I want it to lure people in and I want people to believe it.
I’ve had this space for two years and we’ve been up and running for about a year and a half, but I have a vision of what I want to do. I love this place, you know, it’s been dear, but it’s time for an expansion.”
Here are the highlights from our interview – watch the full video to hear Pope’s thoughts on everything from education to finding her barbering niche.
So how does a trailblazer like Pope get started in the barbering industry?
“I was gonna go play basketball, but I got into a car accident. You know how that goes. But I mean, it was it was all meant to happen really. From that accident I actually couldn’t walk for about a year, and I was going to school for aeronautical engineering. I loved doing hair, obviously I had a passion for it, but I thought it was more of a hobby.
“You know, I never thought that barbering was really a thing for me, and I started out as a hair stylist. Yeah, I went to cosmetology school in crutches and I mean it was the scariest thing. I said to my parents, I’m not a mathematician you know I would love to cut hair.”
You’ve got a knack for every part of barbering, including build a business. Tell me about how Pope the Barber came about a brand.
“Like I said everything happens for a reason, you know: right place, right time. I’ve always just been a people person, you know, and networking’s just kind of my jam. I mean, I’ve been a barber straight out of high school – that’s all I really know – but I always wanted to do something on the side, and it wasn’t because I was bored of hair. It was just there was no job title that really fit what I wanted. You know, I wanted to travel. I wanted to do everything.
“And that’s what a brand is: you can you can have everything you like, do whatever the hell you want and that’s your brand. How it really started is that I was barbering but I was also hosting clubs and doing tattoo modelling and all that. I wanted people to know me for barbering, you know, so I actually took a job opportunity and Montreal and I went out there and just focused on my brand I heard it was negative 40 over there and I was like perfect don’t need to go outside. Seriously. It was like that. I just knew what I wanted.”
What is your barbering speciality?
“I love it all, you know, I’d like to say I’m one thing, but I just love cutting hair. And I can’t say I’m the best: I’m not the best. I have a lot of things that I enjoy doing and I love learning new things.
I do love doing a gentleman’s cut with a nice clean taper. I love that, that’s kind of my favourite. Then I love doing flat tops, anything crazy. I love doing design. But my favourite for sure is a nice clean taper with something funky in the back.
Your body is covered in tattoos – where did it all start? And did you have any deliberation getting the tattoo running down your cheek?
“I always knew I wanted tattoos, and my first tattoo was on my side. It says ‘All that I am I owe to my mother’. And she was mad, but you know secretly she was proud. A lot of my tattoos are to ward off demons or they’re a kind of spiritual protection.
“[I hesitated] for a moment. But I knew what I wanted. I was just praying to God that it would look good. It’s funny, like every visible piece that you can’t hide my tattoo artists and I would like take a moment of silence and dedicate my life to the arts. But this was like the ultimate: my face, you can’t hide that – it’s a bold piece.”
A final personal question – Joanie is in a lot of your pictures on Instagram. How does she feature in your brand?
“She plays a huge part. She gave up a lot to be here and she really wanted to see my dreams come true. I wanted to build an empire for us, that’s my end goal.
“She pushes me, you know. I’m completely right brain and she’s completely left brain. So I’m all the way out here and she brings me back to earth. She helps me really achieve my goals.”
Tell me a little bit about the products you have available…
“I have a few things out there, but this year is the year of launching. So I have clothes, all handmade clothes coming out. My biggest thing is I have a hair product coming out that I won’t tell you too much about, but that’s one of my biggest projects this year. All the good stuff is coming out within the next few months.”
You also offer education – what’s your area of speciality?
“Well, my style of education goes back to my roots. I started as a cosmetologist and stylist, and then I moved into barbering. So it’s basically bridging the gap between stylists and barbers, you know, more clipper techniques and for the barbers that I teach courses or techniques so basically just bridging that gap. You know: more clipper techniques, and for the barbers that I teach more scissor techniques.
“I definitely know all the troubles that they have. I also know all the tools that they are and aren’t familiar with. But I teach to light a fire under people. Honestly, I love teaching. I like the technical work, but in the end I want people to leave feeling inspired.”
so some people practicing law of attraction by meditation. Some people do affirmations, some people write out their goals. Some people are just daydreaming.
This interview is going out across the world – where can people expect to see you, what kind of shows have you got in the pipeline?
“I have Connecticut Barber Expo, I’m doing something cool in June in Miami – that’s top secret. I’m going to be in Canada working with Monster. I might be in Europe this summer. I’m traveling once or twice a month and it’s all going to be in the States, you know, so I’m going to be in Utah, New York, Texas, Chicago, everywhere here.”
And finally – what are your parting words to any barber who wants to excel in the world of barbering?
“Hone your skills, you know, and really work on your products. Because in the end, you are a product: for barbers, your product is your skill. So, you’ve got to take classes, never stop educating yourself and never stop being open. Don’t stop learning because that’s what kills a barber or stylist.
“Networking is super important – social media is out there. It’s all out there, that’s how I got to travel and all that, from Instagram and Facebook. Just put yourself out there, reach out to people.
“And dream big. Everything is possible: dream big. I’m doing workshops, as well, on how to build a barber shop.”
So there you have it: Pope the Barber, in her own words. Don’t forget to watch the full video to hear even more great advice – including how barbers can use mindfulness and meditation to realise their ambitions. You should also head down to Instagram, where you can follow Pope here and myself here. You’ll also find @LarrytheBarberMan on Facebook and YouTube, where I’ll keep you up to date on my latest interviews.