Remember when barbershops were practically a sacred space for men—the requisite jar of Barbicide on the counter, a stack of Playboys in the magazine rack? It went without saying that the barber was always a man. Today men’s grooming is undergoing a major paradigm shift as more and more women invade this sacred space. We talked to a couple of female barbers about what it’s like to be a trailblazer.
Sofie Gold (@staygold31), a stylist at Daniel Alfonso Men’s Salon in Los Angeles, didn’t become a men’s grooming specialist until recently—she started off doing women’s hair. “From the start men’s hair seemed more challenging,” says Gold. “It had more details.” She still works with women clients, but mostly those who want short, pixie styles with a mix of cosmetology/barbering blends. Still, it wasn’t easy breaking into the men’s grooming world. “Trying to make a name for myself in a male-dominated industry always made me feel like an underdog,” says Gold, who was stung by criticism at first. Not only did male clients actually ask if a man could cut their hair instead, but her male colleagues were only willing to allow that she was “pretty good for a girl.” This kind of pushback actually encouraged her to up her game. To build her male clientele, Gold resorted to social media, posting her work on Instagram. That’s when she began to make a mark for herself and create a strong reputation as a female barber. Social media opened other doors for her as well, helping her to attract the attention of companies like BabyBlissPRO, which hired her to do platform work. Gold’s advice for women trying to break into the men’s grooming market is simple,“You have to be willing to feel uncomfortable at first if you truly want to be great at what you do.”
Pope the Barber Making an impact on the barbering world has really been a mission for Brittany Pope (@popethebarber), but it hasn't always been easy. When she first started, men would refuse to sit in the chair because she was a woman. The industry has grown since then she says and now people are more intriqued by female barbers. "For me, it's not about proving myself to other people," says Pope, who owns The Vatican Barbershop in Santa Ana. "It's about making myself happy with who I am and what I do." She swears if you do that, the rest will fall into place.
Jessica Zeinstra is an educator for Andis who has devoted her entire career to the craft of men's grooming and the art of classic barbering, developing the curriculum for men's haircutting programs and teaching advanced education classes around the country. Her goal: to lead the way for other female barbers and stylists to have enough education and feel confident enough to enter a room full of men and stand their ground.