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Female Barber: Lena Piccininni, Speaks Of Her Rise To Barbering Stardom

Lena Piccininni’s work is the epitome of modern barbering, with her versatile skills representing perfectly the way in which barbering and hairdressing are becoming more and more interconnected every day. She is also a talented makeup artist, and the versatility of these three skills mean that she is able to educate both male and female stylists in a way that they can engage with.

Aside from all that, name is an educator and ambassador for Pacino’s – an achievement that any barber would be delighted to have to their name. She’s also one of the most professional and driven people I’ve met, with a work ethic that should make her an inspiration to barbers and hairdressing alike… so let’s hear what she had to say!

 

A journey to the top

“Well, I started doing hair and makeup, and then I went through some life experiences and basically need a job – so I ended up in barbering. I realised that it’s extremely difficult for a woman to make it in a male dominated industry and I needed to make sure my skills were 100%. Sometimes I thought, I need to be better than the men in the barbershop.”

This spurted Lena on to look at educational classes, and it was here that she first met Pacino – a hugely admired celebrity barber, educator and platform artist who was impressed by Lena and able to propel her career forwards.

But while she found she was learning a lot from educators, and from watching classes, she also felt like there was an important piece missing. In particular, she felt like her fades just weren’t living up to the high standard she’d set herself:

“Because I do makeup and makeup is all about blending, I stayed saying if you have issues take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Pretend the hair is an eyelid and you’re blending the eyeshadow, it’s the same thing. You can see the same dark lines and what needs to be darker or lighter.”

As I mentioned above, Lena’s diversity is one of the things that elevates her. This has been the case since the very start of her career, when she tells me that she saw every single client as worthwhile, since she was focused on widening her client base. This is an important point for early career barbers; you can’t just chase the fades and pompadours of you want to get your name out!

It’s the same with Lena’s educational classes, where she describes her clientele as “everybody” – meaning, barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists alike. Specifically, she tries to draw on details from each element and puts it all into her education. And, as Lena notes, as we are seeing more and more crossover between barbering and hairdressing, her style of education is exactly what a lot of people within the hair industry are looking for.

 

Humble barbering roots

I was also curious to hear more about how Lena first got into barbering – a story which is inspiring in and of itself, even if her career hadn’t reached the heights that she now enjoys:

“I was in a hair salon and they changed owners and they basically wanted to cut my pay to around half. They were paying around $5 an hour to assist on reception, clean and shampoo. At 17 I was very stubborn, so I said no way, I’m quitting. Unfortunately, then my father passed away and I had to get a job – I had to take over a mortgage, with my brother, at 17 years old. I was fresh out of high school, no money, no nothing. No clients, not really any education in hair. I couldn’t get a clientele.

Then a friend of my fathers – I feel bad now but I say thank god, he broke his shoulder – because he had a full book of clients and couldn’t cut for them. I said look, I can do this.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly given her determination, this worked out well for Lena, and from their she was able to start working in an actual barbershop, fading and learning classic barbering skills for the first time.

From this combination of luck and good judgement, it was hard work that drove Lena forwards. This is particularly evident when looking at how she came to work with Pacino, a man who has had a big influence on her career: “without him, I wouldn’t be where I am. His initial class that I attended has opened up so many doors over the past few years. From where I started, I never dreamt that I’d end up educating in so many different countries and places”.

 

Always staying classy

One of the things that impressed Pacino initially was Lena’s sense of professionalism, and desire to be considered great because of her skills and not for any other reason:

“First of all, when I was starting as a barber I wanted to make sure that anybody sitting in my chair was there because of my skills and not what I looked like.  I try to teach this to a lot of girls; sometimes I see them wearing more revealing clothing to get clientele, but that is the wrong clientele.

My clientele is very respectful to me and that’s how I like it. You want to make sure you’re barbering for the right reasons – not to meet to guys.

Thankfully, right now I don’t have any [challenges as a female barber], because I’ve worked so hard to put myself out there. When I first started, the biggest challenge was just being taken seriously. I’ve had people get out of my chair. I’ve had guys be like ‘you know what, never mind. Maybe you should just be sitting at the front desk, maybe you should be sweeping the floor. I’ve had all those comments. It just pushed me further.

So the challenge really is just getting guys to take a woman seriously in a barber shop.”

It’s a challenge that Lena has clearly overcome, as her personal brand has grown huge, with 120,000 followers on Instagram and a star status in the USA and Latin America.  Again, a lot of this is down to the professionalism with which she conducts herself and her business, ensuring that her Instagram is purely focussed on her work without personal distractions: “Honestly, that’s what Pacino noticed – he said I’ve seen your page and you’re just working and working and working. You really want to keep unrelated things private with separate pages for work and personal life so that your brand stays completely professional.”

 

Just put yourself out there

No surprises that her advice for other barbers focusses on the strong traits that Lena has demonstrated throughout her own career, and she talks about versatility as being one of the key skills to master:

“One of the questions that barbers always ask me is how do you build a clientele and being a woman, building a clientele is particularly hard. But it’s because I was versatile. I see a lot of guys who worked at the barbershop that I worked at and they didn’t build a big clientele because they only wanted to cut certain people.

I was never scared to cut a kid, long hair, short hair. I would take anyone and make sure I was versatile, and that helped me stay busy and make money.”

This is great advice for every barber, so I hope that you’re able to use it in your own career – but I also wanted to know whether Lena had any particular advice for female barbers who want to become an ambassador, an educator or an influencer as she has:

“You’ve got to just put yourself out there. Again, my number one thing is always be classy, always be professional. Really, you’ve got to practice and you’ve got to show your work; you have to promote yourself, promote your brand, get yourself out to these shows.

I drove four hours just to come walk around and see everyone, and I’ve been to these shows so many times but I still keep putting myself out there. If you have to take a day off, take a day off and come to these shows, meet people, use Instagram.

So, I say if I can do it anyone can do it, I started from nothing. I started from being poor, from never cutting men’s hair to travelling the globe and educating. If I can do it you can do it, but you have to work hard and practice, you have to have patience because it takes time.”

 

I’m sure that Lena’s words will have inspired you to take that time and work your way up; her eclectic skills, confidence and sheer determination are certainly inspiring to me! To see more interviews with top professional barbers like Lena, please visit larrythebarberman.com, or come and find me on YouTube at barbers.tv or on Instagram as @larrythebarberman, where I am constantly putting out new videos and posts so that you can learn from some of the best in the business.

 

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YORfNtLRMWI

I recently had the chance to run a feature about 5ive, one of the faces of Wahl’s creative team, in the excellent barbering magazine Barber NV – which gave me the chance to interview the incredibly talented barber and learn what stories he had to share about his career, and what lessons he good impart for other barbers. For those of you who didn’t get the chance to read that article, I’m going to run through some of the best bits right now, although if you want the full in-depth interview and a lot of other fascinating barbering content then head to the Salon NV site and flick through the back issues!
So, on to 5ive: he’s a barber that doesn’t need too much of an introduction, since his work with Wahl has already put him well and truly in the barbering spotlight, however for those of you who aren’t familiar with his work 5ive is a self-taught barber with multiple awards to his name and an impressive list of celebrities that he’s styled.
As a self-taught barber, his initial barbering experience was picked up as a teenager practicing on friends and relatives – and he fondly remembers getting a set of clippers for his 16th birthday: “it was like getting a new iPad, it was incredible”. Simply by pushing himself to learn at home, 5ive was able to hone his skills and land a spot in a barber shop, and it wasn’t long before he’d started scooping up awards, with his first win coming in 1992.
Once again, 5ive’s friends were part of the story here, pushing him to take the plunge and start doing some competition work. He admits that it was a nerve-racking experience – but one that he grew to love, and which paid off as he started gathering more acclaim and respect within the barbering community. 5ive’s growth wasn’t over, though, and after around 6 years focussed exclusively on barbering he decided to give himself “a new challenge”: hairdressing. While this is a somewhat unusual career path for a barber, it’s not unexpected from a man who seems to be focussed on carving is own path. Now, 5ive boasts an impressive collection of hairdressing awards alongside those that he picked up from hairdressing.
His next step was to start working with Wahl, as part of the elite group known as Wahl’s Artistic Team. So what is it really like to have such a desirable barbering job? Here’s what 5ive had to say about working at Wahl: “It’s great. It’s one of my passions I love to do, because yet again it’s another side of 5ive – put me on a platform I come to life so to speak. Working for Wahl is great because you get to travel, you get to pass on your knowledge and teach, which is a great thing to do – especially to youngsters that are trying to get into the game and improve their technique.”
I was very keen to pick up some tips from 5ive while I was fortunate enough to have him in the interview chair, starting with the tools that he makes use of on a day-to-day basis. The key tools that make up 5ive’s collection are the Cordless Super Taper, a Cordless Detailer, Academy Chrome style Cordless Clippers, a selection of different trimmers and plenty of blades, combs and oils to ensure that he can remain versatile. That said, he also tells me that your “original barbering tools” are your hands, and if you’re going for something like perfect Beyoncé curls, they’re going to be the most essential tools in your collection!
He also has some advice to share with early career barbers wondering how to make an impression on the industry: “Stay true to yourself and trust yourself. Have the right kits, professional tools. And pay homage to the barbers that came before”. Throughout the interview, 5ive comes across as a humble man, and this combination of humility and confidence certainly seems to have worked for him. I also wondered whether he has any predictions for the future of the industry: “It’s going to keep growing, and I think we’re going to start seeing more high end hair care products, as well as a lot of female barbers making their mark.”
If this interview has inspired you to see 5ive perform then you can catch him at a number of high profile events, such as Pro Hair Live, Salon International and Barber Connect; he also has some products being promoted by Wahl, including a straightener designed to tackle afro hair, which you can pick up at most online barbering retail stores. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, YouTube and Facebook pages to make sure you don’t miss out on any upcoming content… in the meantime, embrace 5ive’s advice to become a stronger, more professional barber.

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Celebrity Barber Kenny Duncan Shares His Barbering Story

 

Today, I sit down with Kenny Duncan, the Andis educator and barber extraordinaire, to get his story and insight into the barbering industry. Naturally, we start at his humble beginnings. “Just being honest,” Kenny explains, “I really didn’t want to be a barber. I just told all of my friends that I was going to cut hair to get me through college. When I started cutting hair early on, because I grew up poor, I went to the barbershop, and my mom gave me a twenty dollar bill. The barber charged me two additional dollars for my mustache, and she was under the impression that I took that two dollars and went to the game store or candy store and spent her money – she was really upset, and even called the barbershop, where the barber confirmed the price. From that point on, I had to do my own mustache with a pair of cordless trimmers from then on.”

Kenny spent his high school years cutting his own hair, and beginning to cut for others as well. “It started off with me telling everyone the first time was free. I charged four dollars for an outline and seven dollars for a haircut. My grandma’s second-floor front bedroom turned into my mini-barbershop.” Kenny believes the relationships one makes as a barber can make their life much richer, and it shows. Kenny has been traveling with Lady Gaga’s tour the last four years. “I get paid to travel the world,” he admits, “—all because of what I did with a pair of clippers.” This year, he’ll be ready to tour the world again with Janet Jackson.

 

Of course, traveling with celebrities isn’t the only thing Kenny keeps himself busy with. Asked about some of his other projects, he tells me, “We just finished up with the IBS trade show in New York today. I’m the lead educator with the Andis Clipper Company, and we had an amazing time – broke some sales records when it came to our tools, and had some great educational classes. This weekend as well is an event called Barbercon, where I just won the award for Educator of the Year.” Kenny has won not only that, but the Andis fame and respect within the industry where he strives to change the public opinion on urban barbers.

 

One would imagine that Kenny would be away from his shop constantly with so much traveling. I ask him how much time he actually does spend on the floor. “I actually balance out how I am going to do the tours – I don’t stay on the tours, but traditionally, I’ll go three days. For instance, I’ll be in the city for three days, work six hours, and then I’ll get to enjoy the city.”

 

As for his greatest moment in barbering, Kenny answers, “I don’t think it’s one, bro, that’s the crazy thing. I think each and every year, I look to have a decent experience in life, and it just so happens to be that barbering has been the means on how things have happened for me.”

Kenny is also known to have created quite a following on Instagram. Asked on how he gained his 60,000 plus followers, he tells me, “They’re family. I don’t like to put my name in lights. Instead of making the proverbial pie by myself, I’d rather figure out who is in my circle that can make a great crust or filling. I just want to be the person that presents the pie that sells to the masses.”

“If there’s anything I would like to say, is that I like to continue to associate myself with other brands, to figure out how we can partner up, so we can all end up achieving the goals we want to achieve and utilize the platform we have to have balance in life. Even this year, starting in April, I’ll be the artistic director with PP Education Center. I have a direct relationship with the Reserva an Online Appointment booking system – I’m a brand ambassador with them. I recently also became part of the Layrite brand of barbers. I’m associated with a product called Exotics, which has a traveling boutique barber trade show, and a barber competition, called the Hair Metal Tour.” Talk about barber brotherhood and life!

 

Kenny next talks about his likes and dislikes when it comes to the barbering industry. “I love that social media has put barbering on a new platform, and has shrunk the world. Many different relationships between barbers are also starting to form – there’s a lot of barber love. Barbering is a universal language that everyone speaks. We speak different languages, sure, but when you see someone with a pair of clippers in their hands, you know exactly what they’re trying to achieve and can appreciate it.”

On the flip side, Kenny brings up his dislikes and they are very similar to issues that many barbers I’ve spoken with have claimed. “Social media allows for unqualified, unjustified individuals to pretend they have credibility in a particular topic without any kind of validation or proof to back it up. Case and point: there are individuals who are very popular, but they don’t make a lot of money cutting hair in their barbershops. They sometimes have 200,000 followers on Instagram and suddenly they look like a barber god”.

 

For fans of Kenny, and his work, I of course have to ask him when his Youtube channel is coming. “I am my own biggest critic,” he admits. “Continue to follow kennyduncan.com and you’ll see the announcements when the Youtube channel is set to launch.”

 

I ask him about how he landed his gig on the Rocky movie, “Creed”. Kenny responds how he became well known through his Andis education as well as his relationships with other barbers. “A few years back, I was teaching a class in Atlanta and I met a guy named Wyatt Belton. He was a barber for “The Hunger Games” and he came to me to learn some tips on barbering. Since that day, we’ve been cool. Wyatt was good friends with someone who turned out to be a close friend of Michael B. Jordan, who was hired to be one of the lead actors in the movie. It was a challenge, for sure.”

 

As well as his longstanding career as an educator, barber and semi-celebrity, Kenny also has a range of products he offers to the barbering community. Asked about them, he tells me, “A few years back, I started aggressively focusing on combs. There was just not a good range of combs available in the market, and I wanted to fill the void. Through partnerships, and through relationships I had built over the years, we came up with the idea of creating a cutting comb collection; six different combs with a wide range from a barber taper comb to a flat top comb. They’re all made with quality materials that are heat resistant, and can even be styled with. I also have a series of different wooden razor holders because I became a fan of the Feather razor holder, but the Feather DX razor that I was using was a three-hundred dollar razor. I love it, but I know a lot of barbers that can’t afford it. This was a project I’ve been entered into now for at least a year and a half – I know good things are going to come out it.”

 

Kenny doesn’t know what the future holds exactly, but one thing is clear: he is going to keep living the barber life and dream, building relationships with barbers all around the world and bringing that barbering unity that the industry could really use more of.

 

 

To keep up with Kenny and his exploits, you can go to his site: www.kennyduncan.com or follow him on Instagram @clipperedu. There is always something going on, so be sure and keep your eyes peeled!

If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to subscribe to see more interviews, tutorials and content! For more information, you can email me at: info@larrythebarberman.com. I’d also like to invite you to follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com

 

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Barber: Danny Amorin Of Klippers Barbershop Interview with Larry

Today, I am in New Jersey with multi-shop owner Danny Amorim. Not only does he own multiple shops, Danny is also an educator for the Andis Barbering Company as well as a host organizer and judge of barbering battles in the USA. In true Barberman fashion, I came to get his story about his journey into barbering and what is next for him.

 

What began Danny’s adventure? “Truthfully,” he answers, “it just kind of happened. I started cutting hair because I needed a haircut. Then, I went from cutting my own hair to cutting the hair of people in the neighborhood and making a few bucks on the side. When I graduated high school, I didn’t really want to go to college. My work ethic was there, but I didn’t yet know what my niche was. I lost my job at the time a few days before a gentleman that I knew was opening up a barbershop, so I gave it a shot and here I am.”

 

And how was it that he came to own his own shop, is my next question. “I started working for someone fresh out of high school in 1998. I worked for that gentleman for about three to three and a half years. He was actually buying this building here, and he sold me his first location. It wasn’t great at first, but I made it something to call my own. It started from four chairs and a small space to three shops now.”

 

Aside from Danny’s incredible work ethic, what is it that makes The Klippers Barbershop different than other shops in the area? Danny tells me, “We try to keep our professionalism as high as possible, because seriousness is a key quality to me. We continue to go to trade shows, do education, stay up to date with all the newest stuff, etc. We’re always giving our best in quality and marketing. Since we’ve been one of the longest lasting barbershops in this city, it’s helped with the relevancy of everything. We’re a household name now, I’ll put it that way.”

 

Not only is Danny a household name, he has also gotten himself a gig working with Andis, as mentioned before. I ask him why he believes he was chosen: “That was me barbering myself out of the barbershop,” he admits. “I’m already in here five days a week and working ten to twelve hour days. I’ve tried to raise the prices and rates a few times, but it got to the point where I wanted and needed more. I ventured off and starting going to trade shows and taking educational classes. I got into working off platforms and intrigued me. I felt as if I could do it too. I started dabbling in it, and going continuously around to shows, shaking hands and networking, and they gave me a trial date one day. That’s where I’m at.”

While Danny educates for Andis, he also has his own series of educational DVDs. “The Art of Barbering”, was something he was asked to do. “Since I was doing so much education, doing a ton of classes, one of the main things that students asked me for was continuous education. They’d ask if I had a DVD. I felt like I needed to fill that void, so I shot a couple of DVDs. Altogether, I have about ten different videos that are all step-by-step instruction in different things. Just this weekend, I was in New York and working with someone from the UK. They have a certain way in which they cut hair, and I have my own. It’s good to pick up little things like that, and I try to inquire into those things so I can instill the educational aspect of it in about two and a half hours’ worth of DVD education.” For those looking to purchase the DVDs themselves, you can find Danny’s online store at: klippersbarbershop.com. Along with the DVDs, he has plenty more in the way of product including numerous fashion items for barbers.

 

The subject then turns to social media, and how Danny feels it has played a part in his business. “Social media is huge,” he tells me. “Years ago, I built a clientele from handing out business cards. Now, with the click of a button, you can reach people all over the world. How I began to create YouTube videos. From those videos, I could put them everywhere on my Facebook page to raise more awareness and do more subliminal marketing. I have tons of stuff on YouTube that you can check out, and it’s not something I’m selling. It’s more inspirational and motivational stuff for barbers. Now we have Instagram. Instagram is all pictures, so you can continuously post pictures of haircuts – it’s a great marketing tool. I’m here today because I use my social media wisely.”

“As far as posts that have excelled or given a kick to my following,” he continues from my next question. “Sometimes, it could just be a motivational post that I do that gives people that energy, that pump – the people that want to do more. Sometimes, it’ll just be a haircut I’m posting, a before-and-after. Sometimes, it can just be one of my motivational speeches and, again, it gives people that ‘oomph’. It helps them realize that with passion, energy and persistence, things can get done.”

And what is the philosophy behind his motivational speeches and posts, his business in general? “You have to put in to get out. Nothing is given, it’s always earned. I just spoke to a barber over the weekend in New York who was thinking about moving from Florida to New York, and he asked how much he could make. I told him that he could make as much as you want to. No one can force him to come into work early or not take phone breaks. It’s up to him to raise the bar and make as much money as they want to. They have to be willing to sacrifice, but if you invest the time, and manage your time well, you can get there.”

 

Being from the UK, where there are no barber battles, I ask him to give me the run down on how they work. “Barber battles are awesome,” he laughs. “I’ve competed for years. We have different categories, whether it is doing the fastest fade where you have to do a flawless fade in fifteen minutes, or freestyles where you can do whatever you want. We also have duplicate challenges where every single barber has to duplicate a picture. The barber who does it the closest to identical wins everything. Really, it’s about using the platform wisely. I’ve seen people win first place and never remember who they are. So, if you are in a battle, utilize the platform. Shoot a video, post pictures, show off being an award-winning barber.”

As for the prizes involved, he goes on to explains, “Normally, Andis sponsors our tour, so they’re getting some of the latest and best new clippers that can range into the hundreds price wise. They’re also getting $500,000 cash. Sometimes, we have a pot where the duplication winner-gets-all, so if twenty guys compete and it’s a $100 dollar admission, it becomes a $2,000 pot. Those are the set formulas in those cases, anyways. Normally, your going rate is about $500-$1,000 cash, but it really depends on which barber battle you’re going to. The bigger battles have bigger prizes, obviously.”

As for his educational tours, Danny has had the opportunity to visit many international locations. I ask him about some of them, and he answers: “I normally do a lot of stuff for the Andis Company, and they sometimes send me to Puerto Rico or Mexico. I’m Portuguese, so I booked Portugal, and I plan on going to Brazil soon, as well as Columbia. We’re just trying to coordinate everything at the moment. The embracement and quality of life in other regions is just awesome to experience.”

 

And what is his greatest moment in barbering? Danny relates back to opening his first shop, turning the key and walking into a place that was all his own.

 

Finally, what is his advice to other up-and-comers out there? “You’re going to have to sacrifice and work your ass off,” he tells me. “You have to offer more than the next guy. You have to want to do more than the next guy, sacrifice more, stay up late, etc. There’s no shortcuts. It’s all about persistence.”

 

As for what is next for Danny and Klipper Barbershop, he tells me: “I’m at my third location now. I’m going to keep on working with Andis, and I do the Xotics Hair Battle Tour. I just got on to get Blue Moon, which is a product company that I have been traveling all over the country with. I’m looking to do my own educational tour and basically keep trying to inspire barbers all over the world.”

 

Strong words from a man that works hard every day to inspire others. I know I certainly have been inspired speaking with Danny.

 

If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to subscribe to see more interviews, tutorials and content! For more information, you can email me at: info@larrythebarberman.com. I’d also like to invite you to follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com

 

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