There’s a certain glamor to working in a barbershop in NYC, reinforced by pop culture positioning them as dispensers of profound wisdom with a side of style. Barbers are cemented as the lynchpins of the barbershop community, one of the most important gathering places for men throughout the centuries. But what is it actually like to be a barber?
With this article, we’re pulling back the barber’s cape to give you a peek into the real world of a barber working in New York. Whether you’re thinking of becoming a barber or just want to learn more about how the proverbial sausage is made, let’s dive into a day in the life of a New York barber.
A barber’s day always starts with preparing their station for the day ahead. This is crucial for getting the day off on the right foot. The ritual of checking and sanitizing all of their equipment gives the barber the opportunity to ensure that everything is sharp and in good working order, as well as prepare mentally for the day. Sometimes, a barber may need to help prepare the barbershop at large for the day ahead. As most of their day is spent on their feet, comfortable shoes are the barber’s best friend – after their barbering tools and equipment, of course.
If they work for a barbershop that takes appointments, checking their schedule for the day is also top of the list. Some barbers take walk-ins only, some only accept bookings in advance, and some do a mixture, depending on the traffic in their barbershop on that day. At the Premium Barbershop, we welcome both types of clients, although if you have a preference for a particular barber, then booking a set appointment is the way to go.
In this fast-paced environment, most barbers quickly fall into a routine. Each client visit starts with a consultation to find out what’s on the cards. A good barber (an NYC barber, even more so) knows how to draw out a client’s vision, even if they don’t arrive with a clear picture of what they want. Whether it’s a trendy cut, a straight-razor shave, or just a trim, each client gets their barber’s full attention. Once the style is completed and the client is happy, the barber will clean their station again, ensuring their equipment is sanitized and ready for the next client.
New York is known for being one of the fashion capitals of the world, and it’s no different in the world of hair. The standard of barbering in New York is so high that barbers must stay ahead of the curve or risk falling behind. Sure, there are those whose clientele stick with the same styles every time, but every good NYC barber should be able to execute the latest styles with panache if needed. Keeping up with the trends and ensuring their skills remain as sharp as their scissors is part of the package.
Barbers in the Big Apple have the privilege – and challenge – of dealing with a diverse clientele on a daily basis. Different hair types, ages, and styles grace the barber’s chair on any given day. While some barbers choose to specialize in a certain clientele or style category, for the average barber, a good working knowledge of the hair and beard types they could encounter will stand them in good stead. At the end of the day, the client’s satisfaction is the most important thing.
Being a barber requires a potent combination of finesse, creativity, and people skills. The career offers a lot of flexibility, as you can be your own boss and set your own hours, and the opportunity to interact with new people on an almost daily basis. There’s always more to learn, new tools to master, and skills to perfect. It’s a very portable skill, since hair needs cutting wherever you go. A barbershop can also be a fantastic working environment, more of a community gathering space than a stuffy place of work.
It can be difficult to establish yourself as a barber, especially if you aren’t attached to an established barbershop. The long days and sometimes demanding hours can be a drain, not to mention the physical toll of being on your feet all day. The pressure of always having to be on your game because your work is literally on people’s heads and faces, and some may find this overwhelming.
Although there are plenty of joys and challenges alike, for most great barbers, this is more than a job: it’s a passion. Barbering is about much more than hair. It’s about helping people find their inner confidence through impeccable grooming. We’ve said it many times: when you look good, you feel good!