Business feature: Barber defines career on razor's edge
The fine line between hairstylist and barber and winning an award and going home empty-handed can be drawn with the slight twist of a razor.
Ariel Garcia, owner of the Razor Barber Lounge, has defined his career on this fine line.
“I want the shop to be known for using the razor,” said the 21-year-old entrepreneur. “All our haircuts finish with a neck shave.”link Staff photo: Joshua Lucero
Ariel Garcia, owner of The Razor Barber Lounge, cuts the hair of Gabriel Sosa Monday afternoon at the Prince Street shop. Garcia won first place in the Duplicate category of the National Barber Competition in Albuquerque.
What happens between the moment the haircut cape goes on and the neck shave can be any number of offerings: a flat top, a pompadour or a side part, a service man style cut, a razor fade, an intricate design, a mohawk or a taper.
It is this devotion to the razor that helped Garcia garner the top award for a duplication design May 18 during a barber competition in Albuquerque.
Garcia outdid his competitors when he duplicated a picture of the University of New Mexico mascot — the Lobo — on the back of a young man’s head. The prize included a trophy — on display at the Razor Barber Lounge — and an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to compete in an East Coast versus West Coast barber showdown in the fall.
Garcia was also named the man with the best beard in the building during the event. Donning a black beard with dark red highlights, Garcia admitted he doesn’t know what the criteria was for the honor, but accepted it just the same.
The Razor Barber Lounge at 800 N. Prince St. turned six months old on Monday. Garcia describes his establishment as a man-friendly, modern-looking barber shop that offers old school and new styles alike.
Garcia said he was motivated to take after his mother’s example and have a business of his own. His mother, Patricia, owns Dyvinne, a women’s apparel store.
“I always wanted to take after her and own my own business,” Garcia said. “But I never knew what (kind of business) until I discovered my passion for cutting hair.”
Garcia also owes the discovery of this passion to his mother, who cut his hair when he was a child.
“I would always see what she would do wrong,” Garcia said.
So, at the age of 14, he developed a solution: He started cutting his own hair.
It wasn’t long, he said, before his friends asked if he could also cut their hair. Friends told friends, and word got around that the teenager had a knack for cutting hair.
“I was having random people come to my house,” Garcia said, admitting to making a mess of his mother’s kitchen.
Garcia studied at Clovis Community College, but quit when he realized traditional college was not the path for him. In 2012, he enrolled in Albuquerque Barber College, completing the barber course in seven months.
Garcia was employed at two barber shops before he went into business on his own, opening his establishment out of a storage space owned by his parents.
He’s cleared out about half of the storage space; accommodating four barbers: Himself, Gabriel Carreon, a friend with whom he attended barber school, and two other barbers.
Garcia said his goal is to clear out the entire storage space to make room for a total of 10 barbers.
Garcia also has a goal to take his team to barber competitions for more than to win prizes.
Barber competitions tend to offer great seminars, Garcia said, and opportunities for his barbers to stay informed about new haircuts, products, tools and techniques. He’s made these seminars mandatory for the members of his team.
Garcia also does his own seminar; ironically, for CCC’s cosmetology program.
Garcia offered these words of advice for those who want to own their own business.
“It’s really difficult but it’s not impossible,” he said. “You just have to have that hunger and drive to keep on going no matter what.”