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Day in and day out barbers shoot the breeze with the wide variety of men who walk into their shops. As these men settle in the barber’s chair and get a trim, they share tidbits about their lives, their problems, and their observations on the world today. Since barbers spend so much time listening to and talking with other men, we figured they might have accumulated some pearls of wisdom on how men can live life well. So we asked 7 barbers from a wide range of ages, experience, and backgrounds to answer this question: “What’s your best advice on being a man?” The responses we got range from the philosophical to practical style advice. Enjoy, and go have an enjoyable conversation and a relaxing shave with your local barber.
Drew Danburry – Danburry Barber Shop | Provo, UT
Drew Danburry just got into barbering a few years ago and shared his experience of transitioning from being a touring musician to opening up his own shop in our So You Want My Job series.
Even though on most days you’ll find Drew cutting hair and giving hot shaves in downtown Provo, he’s still cranking out the tunes on the side.
Craig the Barber – The Grooming Concierge | Hollywood, CA
“As a barber, one of the greatest aspects of my job is that I get to talk to my amazing clients throughout the day and I learn something from each one of them. Throughout the years we’ve touched upon a slew of different topics, and I would have to say the best advice I’ve gleaned from them, which I love to share with others, is to live life with as few complications as possible.
Whether it relates to your relationships, hobbies, or even your personal grooming routine, simple does not have to mean boring! Focus on your end goal and purpose at all times and let the superfluous aspects fall to the side. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity of interacting with men who live their lives operating in the space of what society suggests that they HAVE to do, which always seems to be “more” — accomplish more, acquire more. And without fail it doesn’t take long before they feel miserable and trapped. But, the men who appear to be content are the ones who found a way to escape the sounds and pushes to “fit-in” by ignoring them, and focusing on what made them happy. Those guys are always the ones I learn and grow the most from. Not to mention, enjoy servicing them as clients!”
Craig the Barber has been cutting men’s hair for over a decade, and counts many of Hollywood’s heavy hitters as his clients.
Be sure to check out Craig’s website where he offers grooming tips for men.
Frank Vitale – Vitale’s Hair Styling | Pittsburgh, PA
Photo used with permission of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Frank Vitale is a 91-year old barber who has been cutting hair for over 63 years. His dad told him “if you don’t want to go to school, be a barber. You will not be rich but you’ll never be out of work.” After a stint in the Army Air Corps during WWII, he took his dad’s advice, learned the trade, and opened his first shop in 1951. He still cuts hair 15-18 hours a week, and always comes into work in a dress shirt and tie.
For more on Frank’s story, check out this great feature the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did on him.
Thad Forrester – Hudson Hawk Barbers | Springfield, MO
“As my friend Matt Baldwin says, ‘A good pair of jeans is the most important piece in your wardrobe.’ Every guy should take a pair of raw selvage denim from stiff and uncomfortable and watch them fade and soften until they tell the story of your life. It’s a great rite of passage in the quest to Stay Sharp.”
Thad is the co-owner of Hudson Hawk in Springfield, MO. Hudson Hawk is an old-school barber shop with a modern twist. They offer high-quality, classic haircuts, hot shaves, and shoe shines all in a comfortable, masculine environment. Since I’m only a few hours away, I definitely want to pay them a visit sometime!
Marvin Church – Washington, DC
“What I’ve learned from talking to clients in my chair for over 25 years, is that most men struggle with balancing society’s stereotypical expectations on what it means to be a man and how they actually feel. [Sorry, just told a big secret, yes, we do feel.]
Whether it’s taking pride in your appearance ‘too much,’ or throwing all resemblances of manliness out of the window when it comes to having to play ‘tea party’ with your daughter, or achieving your goals, everybody has an opinion on how they think you should do it. Screw ‘em. What’s the real measure of a man? Taking care of your responsibilities, going after what you want with a vengeance, staying true and authentic no matter what — all while looking damn good doing it.”
“Marv the Barb” has been in the barbering and image consulting business for 20 years and counts many D.C. politicians and power players as his clients as well as several Hollywood celebrities.
Pedro “The Barber” Zermeno - Razorbacks Barber Shop | Long Beach, CA
“I always wonder what happened to a man wearing a watch or having a wallet? It’s the last accessory that distinguishes a man. A lot of men now have smartphones to tell time for them, or when my client pays for their service, they reach into their front pocket and all they have is a few cards and money that is all crumpled up. Let’s become men again by having or wearing those last distinguishing accessories.” Pedro the Barber is co-owner of Razorbacks Barber Shop in Long Beach, CA. I visited Razorbacks last year to get a shave and a haircut from the other co-owner, Scotty, and made a video documenting my experience there. Besides cutting hair, Pedro (along with Scotty) founded Imperial Barber Products, makers of my favorite hair pomades.
Kenji Prince - Old Familiar Barber Shop | Columbus, OH
Kenji Prince is the 32-year-old owner of The Old Familiar Barber Shop where they specialize in old-school haircuts and hot towel straight razor shaves. They’ll even marry you at the shop. The OFBS definitely has the coolest barbering logo I’ve ever seen — scissors and a straight razor positioned as the square and compass (Kenji is a Freemason).
You can follow The Old Familiar Barber Shop on Instagram.
Willard Inscoe – Nashville, TN
Photo used with permission of Nashville Graphic
Willard is a 98-year-old(!) barber in Nashville. He is indisputably the oldest barber in Tennessee, and surely one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in the entire country. He’s been cutting hair for 67 years and is still at it. http://dlvr.it/56W4Rl