What I Wish I Knew in Barber School: Jay “Majors” Raposo

Raposo when he was still a “Minor” (left) and today’s Jay “Majors” getting ready to share his knowledge (right).

Jay “Majors” Raposo, (@jay_majors) BaBylissPRO Master Barber/Educator and Owner of Major League Barbershop & Academy, wasn’t always “Major” when it came to barbering. He was introduced to the barbering world at a young age—fascinated with the sights, smells and stories every good barbershop has. Here, this master barber talks to a young Jay “Minor,” and gives him some words of wisdom.

Dear Jay “Minors,”

Remember when your father thought a haircut by an intoxicated Portuguese friend was a great idea? When walking to the neighborhood barbershop seemed like a luxury? Opening the shop door to the smell of Clubmen talcum powder filling the air? Do you recall siting in the barber chair and Rob the hip Italian barber would tell you elaborate life stories—only to admit years later that 80 percent of those stories were completely made up? Well, those experiences are going to stay with you, and they’re going to shape the man that you are today.

That barber is going to see something in you and decide that you should have a pair of his hand-me-down clippers—he’ll also promise that they don’t work. Little did he know what the power of a Philips screwdriver, duct tape and some minor love could do. You’ll grab that rusty clipper with three guards and practice on all of your buddies in the neighborhood. Before you know it, parents will be knocking down your door looking for you. They won’t be requesting your haircutting services for their kids, but they will tell you to stay far away from their heads. 

This is going to discourage you and cause a pause in your new-found love of barbering. You’re going to try your hands at a number of dead end jobs, each one ending in a pink slip or being fired. Let’s face it, swinging a hammer and manual labor are just not your thing.

Eventually, you’re going to find the Connecticut Institute of Hair Design. With some financial aid and out-of-pocket finances, you’re going to perform roller sets on tender headed elderly ladies and practice your skills on people that don’t like to spend more than seven dollars on a haircut. The problem is young Jay, you think you know everything. What you haven’t figured out at this point is that you’re going to fail few times. When you get back up, just know that your huge dreams and visions can make it in the hair business.

Your first job at a barbershop will teach you many things as you take in the surroundings. Stop complaining and focus on how you can bring back integrity in the barbering world. Pay attention to your customer service skills, because your haircuts aren’t looking that great right now, but with practice, that those skills will come. You need to absorb all the knowledge you can, as you never know where and when you may need to use it in the future. You might end up on one of those big stages with the bright lights yourself, cutting hair in front of thousands, and maybe for even a few celebrities.

As time goes on, you recognize that building strong foundations and remaining consistent and persistent are key. You’ll come across all walks of life sitting in your chair and you’ll form long-lasting relationships. Remain teachable. Constantly learn, and attend educational seminars and hair shows.

Your entrepreneurial spirit, together with your experiences, will afford you to open a barbershop or two of your own, along with a barber academy. You will become the founder of the CT Barber Expo, a Consultant for BaBylissPRO in the USA and Canada and formulate the Barberology Team traveling all over the country. And maybe, just maybe, you can earn the name of Jay Majors.... 

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.