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Barbering is her forte

Anesta Henry

Barbering is her forte

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Who in their right mind would leave a promising career as a cook in the hotel industry to become a barber?
This week’s Wednesday Woman did.
In 2009, shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Felicia Barker realized that shift work as a cook in the hotel industry just was not going to work out for her.
She was at home considering what she should do to make a living for herself and her newborn when she was faced with a proposal from her mother to go to Brothers Barber School and train to become a barber.
While cutting a customer’s hair at Brothers Barber Shop in Cheapside last Friday, Barker told the MIDWEEK NATION some people might not agree but she was in her right mind when she decided to act upon that proposal.
Today the 31-year-old mother of girls five and three years old is an outstanding barber with hopes of opening her own barber shop.
“I love hair; I am a hair fanatic. I do my own hair in different styles. Actually, when I was learning to cut hair I had to be my own guinea pig. I can do almost anything a female barber can do,” she said.
She says she can work with all hair types and is capable of doing any style a customer requests.
Barbering has also helped to bring her out of her shell, going from someone who never used to talk a lot to someone who carried on conversations with customers.
Often, those conversations were started by customers who were surprised to see a woman working in a barber shop.
“A female barber is not something that is heard about a lot,” she explained.
“It is not only locals but I have had customers from The Bahamas, Germany, England, America and Africa and they are surprised because they have never seen a female barber.
“They are surprised to the point where they take pictures or videotape me to take back home to prove that there is a female barber in Barbados,” she said.
The customers start by telling her about their bad childhood experiences when their mother cut their hair. She politely informs them that she, unlike their mums, is a professional.
“I enjoy meeting people and seeing the satisfaction on people’s faces after they receive a good haircut.
Often you hear people say, ‘I sit down in a barber shop and I pretty much tell the person what I want and when I get out of that chair it is far from what I wanted’.
“If I can provide a service that people are happy and satisfied with, it is fulfilling and makes me happy because if I sit down to get a service done with my hair, I expect to get what I want,” she said.
When it comes to other barbers in the shop, Barker said there was a professional relationship based on mutual respect.
“When I came they were joking and saying that I am going to get all the customers now because men like women playing in their hair. But we are okay. We have our differences but we respect each other,” she said.
But she pointed out that some clients spelled trouble.
“There are men who come into the shop and always have something sexual to say. Sometimes I am a little taken back by it but I know how to and when to respond in the appropriate way.
“I know what I was getting myself into, so I know how to deal with it because it is not anything to get away from,” she said.
“There are always going to be those individuals that are going to hit on you, try to ask for your number, want to spend an extra five minutes in your chair, want to tell you how you look today, ask if you have a boyfriend. I try not to be rude but professional about it.”
She hopes someday to be holding the keys to her barber shop.
“I was good at being a cook and I got into that industry around 18 years old because I wanted to be a nutritionist,” she said.
“But life changes; children came along. This is what I am doing now and I am comfortable and someday I would like to open the doors to my own barber shop.”