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Benny Machado : Wahl Online Barber Battle Winner 2017, Shares His Story & Great Advice

Earning a spot on Wahl’s Education and Artistic Team is a great achievement for any barber, so when Benny Machado saw the opportunity to win his spot by taking part in their online barber battle, he knew he had to give it a shot:

“I had been cutting hair for seventeen years and I saw this as a perfect opportunity to not only use my experience but to try and get into educating. It’s something I’ve always looked forward to in my career.”

The outcome? Benny emerged victorious from the contest – third time lucky, as he’d managed to scoop second place in two previous battles before this one. So how did it all work?

Well, Benny actually spotted the competition on Instagram, where Wahl were calling for barbers to show off their skills by submitting three videos: one fade, one pompadour and one creative cut. Benny explains how he managed to create the shots – from choosing the model to getting the design just right:

“Fades and pompadours are very common but there weren’t too many willing models for the creative cut I wanted to achieve. I noticed a lady while I was eating at a restaurant and managed to convince her to model for me. I really wanted to do something different. I looked to Google for inspiration and noticed some flowers, hibiscus, in fact. I incorporated that design onto her hair and my first attempt worked out!

“We recorded the videos with such anticipation but the filming, editing and having to travel for work in the shop in between was really tough but it paid off. I was exhausted but it paid off. Choose your canvas, create the right design on the right model. Preparation is key and let your personality shine through. The clippers do the work, the metal is always stronger than hair. Let the tools do their job.”

The one part of the process that Benny couldn’t prepare for was actually finding out that he had won! The Wahl Education and Artistic Team sent Rick Morin (Flawless Barbershop) along to Benny’s shop – Executive Barber – under the pretence of wanting an out-of-hours haircut. When he arrived, though, he had a full camera team by his side. “I had no idea, I really just thought I was working late to cut a client for $100!”

 

So how has life changed for Benny since winning this prestigious award? Life has certainly got busier, and now he’s rushed off his feet responding to all of the emails and social media messages from people who want to benefit from a little of his expertise. Alongside this, there’s the new educational side to his career, and he has plans to keep growing into his new role. After all, as he tells us, it’s challenging yourself that keeps your work fresh:

“I chose to take part in order to challenge myself. I was completely out of my comfort zone and that is what makes you grow. That pushes you to be better. It was very challenging. I was nervous making my stage debut but if we don’t face our fears, we can’t grow. Ultimately that’s what I’m doing here, pushing myself. It’s scary but exciting and without that feeling people get complacent.”

The other big change is the introduction of exclusively Wahl tools into his shop. ““I had other brands in the shop before I won the contest but now we are solely Wahl. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another set of clippers. I look for power, reliability and speed for the haircut I want to execute.” And is there one clipper that stands out above the rest? “If I want to snip a lot of hair in one shot, I go for Wahl’s Legend clipper. I mostly use that alongside the Wahl Detailer trimmer. With these two tools I can create anything.”

But Benny’s success hasn’t been all about boosting his own profile – he also wants to see other barbers challenge themselves and raise their game. One way of doing so is to join Wahl’s new Wahl Professional Ambassador Program. It gives you early access to new products, news and special deals, as well as useful industry insights. We also recommend looking for @mr_executive_barber on Instagram and Facebook if you want to follow Benny’s work and see what one Virginia barber can create with a pair of Wahl clippers.

“My dad bought me my very first pair of clippers when I was a teenager. They were Wahl and it led me to where I am now. Dad always wanted me to be a barber. Now, as a Wahl educator, I want to grow and become the best I can be.”

 

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Wahl Barber Of The Year 2016: Andrea Raymond’s Interview

At just 22 years of age, Andrea Raymond has done excellently to become the first female Wahl Barber of the Year. Although I’ve managed to interview a few female barbers for the Larry the Barber Man blog, it’s certainly true that they don’t get as much publicity as men in the profession… so I couldn’t miss the chance to interview Andrea and find out a little more about her career.

Now, something that I’ve heard from a lot of barbers is that they love the creative side of the trade, and for Andrea this is where it all started: she joined a hairdressing college – the same one that Paul Mac attended – looking for a creative and practical career. However, the theoretical side of hairdressing college was not enough for her, so she left after a year and went the route that is increasingly popular with young people cutting hair: an apprenticeship.

From there, her path into barbering was almost an accident, as she tells me that she started a barbering night course just to add another skill to her collection. But, like many barbers I’ve spoken to, once Andrea started barbering she couldn’t stop, finding it “more creative and more challenging”. So, starting out as a junior barber at Bladez Barbers in Cork, she worked her way up to senior barber in Lancaster Barbers, another Cork based salon where she still works today.

I hear many different stories of barbering through these interviews, and Andrea’s journey shows that making the switch from hairdresser to barber can often be a viable and inspiring career move. I also wanted to know how she made the move from day-to-day barbering in Cork to becoming Wahl Barber of the Year. As the first female winner, I think her insights could be very useful for other women looking to progress their barbering careers:

“They posted the competition on Facebook, then you just send 4 to 6 pictures and a bio about your career via email. It needs to be a nice shoot, with good images! Then they pick the finalists from a couple of hundred entries, narrowing it down through specific categories. It’s very easy to apply; I thought it would be a lot more complicated, needing professional photos and a model, but I just used pictures taken on the shop floor. It’s simple; I recommend it to everyone”.

This should be great news for any barbers with limited resources who still want to try their hands at competitions! We also talked about barbering inspiration, and for Andrea the two big names that have motivated her throughout her career are Reece and Alan Beak. As well as enjoying their work from afar, Andrea got the chance to meet the wonderful brothers – and it was their positive reaction to her work that gave her the courage to push forwards.

She also tells me how generous and friendly Paul Mac has been throughout the competition process, offering tips and tricks despite being direct competition. This is the sort of thing I always love to hear about; the barbering community coming together to offer each other support, and become friends as well as competitors.

So what was Andrea’s show-stopping cut that saw her crowned winner? “I went with a regular skin fade, nothing too fancy. The model’s hair was bleached on top but naturally dark. So with the texture on top I wanted to wanted to show the contrast of the colours, complementing the contrast of the skin against the hair. I like clean sharp lines, and put a lot of effort into each aspect … the sectioning on top, line work, the blending, everything.  So I used a plain, simple, easy structure – and it worked.”

I’m sure that a lot of barbers will also be curious to know which tools make the cut for Andrea’s toolkit. Well, here’s a quick rundown:

Two Regular Taper 2000s.

Wahl Beret Mini Clipper

Wahl Icon Clipper

Wahl Shaver

Corded Razors… as many different types as she can get her hands on!

Watch the full interview to find out more about this clipper collection, including why she prefers to use corded clippers wherever possible, and how she’s customised her kit to suit her own cutting style. We also discuss scissors, and after trying a few different models Andrea is lucky to be having some made by Dan Quartered Steels Wild – as she says, they’re “more expensive but custom made by a wonderful guy”.

Finally, I asked Andrea to share any advice for other female barbers who may be looking to follow in her footsteps. Her message was clear: stick to your own style, and don’t try to emulate somebody else. Whether you like simple, classic cuts like Andrea or something a little more extravagant, her advice stands strong: “stick to what you’re good at. Perfect your own techniques, your own skills. So just don’t try to be anywhere else and that will get you far.”

Watch the video to hear even more about Andrea’s fresh perspective on barbering, including changes she’d like to see in the industry and what she’s up to over the next 12 months as a Wahl Barber of the Year. There are plenty more inspirational and educational videos to come in the not too distant future, so keep an eye out for those too, and follow Larry the Barber Man on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Or to find out more about my work, why not get in touch – you can contact me here.

 

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