For many barbershop and salon patrons, a haircut is just a necessary part of personal hygiene, but for some, there is a science to performing a good haircut.
Eric Ross, Cody Hunter and Carlos Diaz have been cutting hair in Grayson County for more than 30 years, and all three believe that a good haircut is all about technique, experience and passion.
The job chose me
Ross cuts hair at Travis Street Salons in Sherman.
“I always tell people that I did not choose this job,” Ross said. “I did not start out wanting to be a barber. I just started doing it at such a young age that it just made sense. I got my barber’s license when I was in high school. Then I was in management in retail and I thought that was the direction I was going. I started making more money cutting hair part-time on the weekends and when I had the time. My clientele started to grow.”
Ross decided to make cutting hair his full-time job.
“I started seeing the benefits of being self-employed, making my own hours, and the amount of money you can make is totally up to you,” he said. “I enjoyed doing it, so it’s not like a regular job. I do not clock in. I do not have to answer to a boss. I just said, ‘I want to go all in’ and that is how I became a barber.”
It has been 20 years since Ross started cutting hair.
“I have a passion for making people feel good about themselves,” he said. “That is what being a barber is all about. I can do haircuts all day long, but that one haircut that gives the person the confidence when they step outside my door saying, ‘Hey I can take on the world,’ makes me feel like I put myself out there. That person does not have to say a thing and he can be my advertisement.”
Ross said he has the best time when people come in to get a haircut and they do not know what they want.
“I still have to be able to satisfy them,” he said. “It’s an interpretation type process. I look at a person as a blank canvas. I try to give them everything that they want or at least come as close to their vision as possible.”
Style, Ross said, is always changing.
“I do not feel like it’s work,” he said. “I feel like it’s me making art. I get to look at a canvas and feel like, where am I going with this. When it’s all said and done, we each look at it and can be like, wow. I like the art of it. I like the creativeness of it. I get bored really easily and doing this is not just always different, I get to make someone’s day.”
School, natural ability and experience
Hunter began cutting hair when he was in the fifth grade. He said the styles he was cutting more than 20 years ago are back in style.
“When you cut with clippers, there are so many techniques, and I like to study them all,” Cody Hunter of NYC Elite in Denison said. “Sometimes I like to edge up and then cut it all and then sometimes I would cut everything and then go back and do the edge up. It is about whatever mood that fits at that moment.”
It took Hunter a while to decided to make cutting hair a career.
“My uncle used to cut my hair,” he said. “One day, he handed me the clippers and told me to cut my own hair. Then later I had friends who asked me where I got my hair, I told them I did it and they started asking me to cut their hair. When I got out of high school before I went to college, I was interested in it, but I was kind of pushed to play sports. That was not fun like I thought it would be so then I started to go ahead and get my license and start working.”
Hunter became an instructor at Diamond Cosmetology College in Sherman three years ago.
“You have some people that come in with the love for this, but a lot of people come in looking for an avenue or a way to decide what they want to do with their lives,” he said. “A lot of people want to give up, but I tell them, ‘You are going from a career to a job.’ … This is a career. In this field you can go anywhere and always have a job.”
While going to school teaches many things, Hunter said, it is just one part of the equation.
“School is only going to teach you the basics,” he said. “The artistic ability is what is going to get you to the next level. You really are not going to learn until you get behind the chair and start working every day on different kinds of hair. The school is one aspect, but there is also the natural ability and the experience working.”
Taking it to the next level
Carlos Diaz believes that he took his career in hair cutting to the next level last year when he opened his shop, Bros House of Fades in Sherman.
“When I was in high school, in 11th grade, I started messing with the clippers,” he said. “A friend asked me to cut his hair. I kind of liked it so I kept working on it. One thing led to another and when I got out of high school, I enrolled in barber college.”
In college, Diaz said he was around people from Louisiana, Los Angeles, New York and other places. Being around a lot of different people from different places, helped him develop his own cutting style.
“I get to mold and shape this hair into something,” he said. “I get to see what I can do differently. I get this blank canvas, and I get to make this into what they want or they let me make it into what I want, what I see. To know that through my art, I am setting someone up to have a higher level of confidence to get them through their week, to get them through their month is rewarding. Once you get that hair cut, you are just jiving. You set yourself up for the week.”
Anything that does not grow becomes stagnant, Diaz said.
“The art of hair is continuously changing,” he said. “It is always on a new step. It is always growing and changing. Nobody wants that same hair cut. Not everyone wants the same hair cut every week or every month. There are people that are trying to change up their hair cut every few months literally to a completely different style.”
Diaz feels like people in Grayson County have been deprived of the barbershop culture and he hopes to bring that back.
“Barbershop culture here is different from those in the big city,” he said. “You go to any of the major chains and it is a go in get your hair cut and leave. It is 100 percent business. It is different when you come to a barbershop. It is a community just like your neighborhood or your church. There are no private conversations. They are group discussions. There are my partner’s clients that come in and now know my clients. They come in and shake hands. Everyone is hugging and asking each other how they have been. They get to know each other’s kids.”
That is where the experience comes in, Diaz said.
“It’s not just about the cut,” he said. “People come in and stay for 45 minutes to an hour after their haircuts are done. They do not do that just because the mirror is that amazing and they want to see their hair. They do that because of the interactions and love from one another.”
Diaz said people in this area are hungry for the authenticity and barber shop-feel that Bros House of Fades brings.
“Barbering as simple as it sounds and how simple it is, there is so much to it,” he said. “You are your own boss. When you are creative, there are beard shape ups and other things you can do. There are people offering $200 and above services. This is a career where you can make some real money. If competition is something you like then this is something that you can be in. This is not something that will never slow down. You have to continuously grow. This is kind of a one-up game.”
What Diaz loves most about his career is that it is constantly challenging him in a creative way.
“This about chasing and achieving and then chasing and achieving more,” he said. “You can have someone that comes in and they haven’t had a hair cut in six months and then they leave looking all the way business. This is self-rewarding. You can paint a picture and then see that it comes out good, it is the same thing. We do shaves and a lot of the barbers have stepped away from the straight razor shaves. Some are into designs and even color and that is cool, but we want to take it back. There are some skills that have been forgotten or are not what people are offering. When you can be creative and see the effects of what you do, it is pretty cool.”
While women can go get their hair and nails done at a salon or can relax for a day at a spa, men can go to Bros House of Fades.
“When you come to the barber shop, a shave comes with a little bit of a face massage,” he said. “This is our way of getting pampered. It is a little on the masculine side. We are trying to fill that void. We use clippers and scissors. With the different techniques, the hair will fall in different ways. We do scissor over combs and clipper over combs. We always want to remember where cutting hair started and not take away too much from that. We do that with a modern twist.”