What I Wish I Knew in Barber School: Anthony Barmer

High school Barmer, who dabbled barbering (left) and today’s Barmer owner of three “barbersalons” (right).

Anthony Barmer, Wahl Education & Artistic Team (W.E.A.T.) Member, takes a trip down memory lane, remembering the events that led him to becoming a barber. Through this reminiscing, Barmer realizes that the old adage “everything happens for a reason” proved extremely true during his fortuitous career path.

Dear “Barber School Anthony,”

    Remember back when you were 12, and your parents took you to Mr. Johnson’s barbershop for a “back to school” haircut? Remember how you hated that Mr. Johnson only knew two haircuts—Haircut #1 and Haircut #2—and that you deeply disliked them both? Sure, you tried to explain to Mr. Johnson what you wanted—a nice fashionable cut that all your friends had—but you ended up with “Haircut #1” anyway. Well, there was a reason for that early distress. Out of desperation, this will be the first time you try cutting hair. It just happens to be your own. 

    This “Mr. Johnson experience” is going to propel you toward a barbering career. Your parents are going to buy you a basic pair of Wahl Clippers—we’re talking basic, with no adjustment lever on the side—and the word is going to get out around that neighborhood that you’ve got skills. Kids are going to line up in your basement for a haircut. 

    Even though the thought of becoming a barber will take a backseat during college, it’s never really going to leave your mind. In fact, when you only have one semester left on your “Information Systems” major, there’s going to be a nagging “is this really what I want to do with my life?” feeling that comes over you. Listen to it. There’s a reason why you’re questioning it. Barbering made you happy, and you know that you won’t feel fulfilled working in Information Systems.

    During that last semester you’re going to walk into the Maryland Barber School and you’re going to immediately get chills on your arm. Buddy, that’s a sign. You’re where you’re supposed to be. And, lucky for you, they’re going to be short on students, allowing you to gobble up classes from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Just take advantage of this good fortune and don’t look back—it’ll help you graduate in record time. 

     She’ll call the State Board of Cosmetology and the Health Department to try to disrupt your business. Stay cool. All your paperwork is in order and even the air samples will come up clean. After the man from the state board takes you aside and apologizes for having to follow up on a bogus complaint, you’ll know it’s time to move. And your new space will be three times the space of your first shop. Yes, you’re going to get a little scared when the bills double, but in eight months, you’ll grow into it, making even more money.

    The biggest reminders I want you to take away: Learn everything you can and make sure you can do anyone’s hair that walks in the door—no matter if they’re white, African-American or Asian-American. And realize, success in the industry takes dedication and sacrifice, but it’s all worth it. After 25 years in the business you’ll have three “barbersalon” locations. And you’ll never regret walking into barber school.  

Stay the course,
“Future Anthony”

Have some invaluable advice that you wish you knew in beauty school? Share it with others in a “What I wish I knew in beauty school” online letter. To be considered, please email your “Dear Beauty School self” letter to our Executive Editor, Andrea Dawn Clark, at: [email protected] And, send a “vintage” and current photo of yourself via Wetransfer, Dropbox or Google Drive. Use “What I wish I knew in beauty school” as your email subject. Students, and even seasoned pros, will appreciate your perspective and salon experiences.