Hi, There Holyoke!
Emily Cruz, Master Barber is sharing secrets!! She’s cutting, shaving, and fading back in with answers to all of our questions about what life is like as a female Barberess! One of the few Lady Barbers in the area, Emily works her hair flex at a local barbershop @parlorfaded located at 230 Sargeant Street, here in Holyoke, Ma. In this Interview, we will be “blowing out” the truth about her journey up to this moment. She will explain what it’s like standing “behind the chair”, and finally getting through the “hard parts” of barbering and in a male-dominated field she manages to relay her personal insights with grace, it’s refreshing! Emily is happily married, she loves what she does, and has some amazing ideas for the future in barbering and men’s skincare, stay tuned! So if you know anyone who needs to tighten up that fade……”
Check out Emily’s account on Instagram @eastsidebarberess, You can find her on Facebook too!⠀⠀
👤When did you start? How long have you been cutting hair?⠀
🗣I started Barber school in 2011 when I was 19, but I didn’t actually start working consistently cutting hair until 2013 when I was hired at Sosa’s Barbershop. So it has been roughly 7 years straight of professional hair cutting, but 9 years altogether.⠀
👤How did you choose to be a barber rather than a hairdresser?⠀
🗣Mostly all my clients know by now that I kind of “fell into” barbering. I was planning on doing something in the dental field actually, but nothing was working out for me, more specifically in the financial department. So my father was the one who suggested barbering to me. And when I looked into the schooling it was the right price and only a 12-month program so I figured, why not?⠀
👤Did you get flack for “owning” your own choice to be a barberess?⠀
🗣I would say definitely when I was in barber school, I was the only girl in the program at the time, and I got a lot of negative feedback, particularly honing in on the fact that I wouldn’t become successful in this trade. I was even told that No barbershop would hire me. The term “barberess” actually came about by my roommate. I was a waitress for many years and she said that they needed a female term for a barber, so she started calling me a barberess, and it stuck.⠀
👤Where did you receive your training?⠀
🗣I went to the Creative Hair School in Enfield, CT. Sad to say there are not many options to learn the barbering trade. In Massachusetts barbering is considered separate from cosmetology, and there are hundreds of cosmetology schools and only 2 barber schools that I know of. Doesn’t make it easy to get a professional license.⠀
👤Tell us a little about your work experience in a male-dominated industry?
🗣It was very challenging in the beginning. I owe a lot to my first boss, Tony Sosa who invested in me straight out of school. I learned so much in that shop and because of his persistence with his clientele, I was able to gain experience but more than that, I gained trust. In reality I knew I was stepping into a man’s safe haven and that made me want to work hard to be a good barber and deliver quality work. I also wanted to respect the fact that I did step into their world, so it keeps you humble. However there are those few that try to push their limitations with you because you are the opposite sex, and so for me it was very important to establish respectful boundaries right from the start.⠀
👤In what shop do you rent a chair, and what is the atmosphere like? ⠀
🗣I currently am stationed at The Parlor Faded Company on Sargeant St in Holyoke. It is an extremely relaxing atmosphere, it makes the experience with the client feel more personal. There are a lot of collectibles and antiques in the shop, so when you walk in you are almost walking into Holyoke’s history. It is very professional and it is not a hangout spot, which many shops tend to be. We do online booking for clients so it makes things very easy and convenient for them.⠀
👤Currently what is trending in hair/grooming today?⠀
🗣This is a hard one to answer because I feel that there are different trends in different communities. There are also different trends in age groups. So for the young men and teens, long hair has been a trend for quite some time. Every young boy seems to want hair that covers their eyes but has a short fade on the sides and back. I also see many hair inspirations coming from the “Viking” tv shows, shaved sides long slick back hair on top, or even braids or messy man bun, and definitely full long beards. Big Beards have been a pretty big trend for about a year or so I would say. The other trend would be lines cut into the eyebrows, it was popular in the 90s and is making a comeback.⠀
👤Share with us your least favorite cut, and why?
🗣Hands down a military flat top. They are time-consuming and extremely meticulous. Also, pretty much giving any haircut that I feel is unflattering on someone, but because they have been getting the same haircut for years they won’t change it, that is tough for me.
👤Name the best tool in your profession and was it difficult to master?
🗣The best tools are a good sharp pair of shears, I use Hattori Hanzo and a good pair of clippers and trimmers. I was always a fan of Andis Master clippers, and for fading, I would still say they are the best for me. However, Babyliss is really climbing the ladder in their products and I really like the cordless FX Pro collection. The cordless makes cutting children’s hair a dream!
👤What sets you apart from anyone else in the field? What is your best skill?
🗣I can’t really say what sets me apart. However, what I always try to do is meet the clients’ expectations. I try to really aim for the look they want. I don’t ever try to push my view of how their hair should look. Unless I am asked specifically if I think it should be done differently. I always feel it is important to reach the goal they want, not what I think.
One of my skills, I worked really hard on was the straight razor blade. I like using the straight razor to make skin fades look that much cleaner, and also making the shape-up look extra sharp. Can’t say if it’s my best skill, haha!
👤Any secrets to share on how to achieve a super close shave and facial care between shaves?
🗣So the best thing for a super close shave is to purchase a 1 blade razor, none of these triple and six-blade nonsense. That just means you are shaving that area 3 to 6 times over again, which naturally causes irritation. Old school shaving has always been a razor with 1 blade, that gets the job done best. Go with the grain once, the second time is to go against the grain. The other key is to not use super hot water because it can dry out your skin, if you can achieve steam to open the pores first, and then use just warm to the touch water throughout the shave, you’re golden. If you have really coarse hair a good option is to put a pre-shave on under your shaving cream, so you can achieve slicker. Rinse with cool water and use an astringent like witch hazel instead of alcohol which is drying. And always use a moisturizer after. I’m currently into making my own skincare products and am hoping to take some online courses soon so I can market my products, so that’s coming soon!
👤What do you like most about what you do?
🗣The best thing about my job is making people feel good and confident when they leave. I go through major events with people, first and last day of school, marriage, divorce, funerals, job interviews, first children, and so on. It’s more than just giving a haircut, we help people.
👤What advice would you give a new barber or someone contemplating the field?
🗣First would be to learn as much as you can from others who are great in the profession. You will inevitably become your own artist, but watch and learn from others as much as possible and ask questions. Don’t say you can do something if you can’t, admit where you need growth. But always push yourself outside of your comfort zone. For those trying to enter the field, it is very competitive but it will always be necessary. So I encourage anyone that wants to pursue this trade.
👤Would you consider opening up your own barbershop someday?
🗣No way! It’s a lot of work to own and manage a shop. Also, it is a competitive field and so I don’t want to enter that. Like I said before, I do want to get more into the skincare products for men and so that’s my new adventure right now.
👤Do you have any funny experiences you’d like to share?
🗣One that sticks out was when I worked in Ludlow, I had a young boy, maybe about 13 at the time get in my chair and I normally didn’t cut his hair, the other barber I worked with usually did his haircut. But I asked him what he normally gets and so he explains it to me, a number 2 on top and a 1 on the side. And for those who don’t know what that is, its basically a good ole buzz cut. I asked him 3 times if he was sure that it was a 2 on top, because I just had a feeling it was too short. So he assured me yes it was a number 2, so I go ahead and start buzzing the top down and he immediately said, “That’s too short! Maybe it was not a number 2!” As bad as I felt I started laughing and told him, “well Hunny, you wont need a haircut for a while!” I think my funniest moments were definitely with kids or young adults.
👤Would you ever shave your head? Where do you get your hair done?
🗣I actually would definitely shave my head mainly just to know what I look like bald, but I would never do it to make a statement. I currently see Whitney Simmons who was working at Carve Beauty in Holyoke. Super talented woman. Been having her do my hair for about 2 years now and I’ve been super happy.