Barber-Schools.org had the pleasure of speaking with Barry Hairston, a.k.a. the Stars Barber, based out of Dallas, TX and Atlanta, GA, about his career path to becoming a well-known platform artist and celebrity stylist. The Stars Barber discusses his unique approach to building a career in the barbering business, and gives his top three pieces of advice for people who hope to become barbers someday. Barry graduated from Akron Barber College. Learn more about what a Professional Barber and Celebrity Stylist does and the path Barry took to get to this point in his career.
Some of the Interview Questions We Asked Barry Hairston in the Video Below:
- Who are some of the celebrities and professional athletes you have done hair for?
- Where did you get your barber training?
- Why did you choose that school? What did you like about it?
- How long have you been a professional barber?
- Why do you keep your barber license in all three states at once?
- Do you work out of a barbershop, own a shop, or work on-location for people?
- What is your advice for someone who wants to become a celebrity stylist?
- You say you are a platform artist. For those who don’t know, explain what you do in that role.
- Talk about what you mean by being a barber educator, also.
- What are your top three pieces of advice for someone considering a future career in barbering?
Introduce yourself and give us a little background.
Hello guys, how are you guys out there? My name is Barry B., Barry Hairston, but I’m better known as the Stars Barber in Dallas, Texas – my home base, that’s where I work out of – and I am a professional barber.
Why do you go by The Stars Barber?
I go by the name The Stars Barber because I feel like I’m a star. No, I’m just joking. That was a nickname that was given to me when I moved to Atlanta. I moved to Atlanta specifically because I wanted a celebrity type of clientele. The shop I worked at, the guy’s name is Kendall and he’s from Jersey, and he had that accent, and he’s like, “You’re the Stars Barber.” I’m like, you know what? I like that name, so I stuck with it and that’s kind of been my trademark name ever since.
Who are some of the celebrities and professional athletes you have done hair for?
I’ve done Cam’ron, I’ve done Q Parker from 112, Daron Jones from 112, Tony Terry, I worked on am ovie with Clifton Powell, Michael Blackston, Sam Perkins NBA legend, I do a couple of Dallas Cowboys now. Man, I have worked on a lot of people.
Where did you get your barber training?
I went to Akron Barber College. I went to Akron University for 2 years, and after I got kicked out of there, I went to Akron Barber College and followed my true passion.
Why did you choose that school? What did you like about it?
The reason why I chose that school, Akron Barber College, was because that was actually the only barber school there. The next barber college would be in Cleveland, they had like 2 schools, and the ones in Cleveland the graduation rate and pass testing rate was horrible. So I went to Akron. I’m not trying to be arrogant or nothing, but I already knew how to cut hair before I went to school, it was just a matter of passing the state boards for me.
As far as making my final decision, was how many people will I work on? That’s very important. You don’t just want to do all book work and get no hands-on experience. So I would ask how many people am I going to work on? Then I would ask what outside people do you bring in? I think it’s really important to bring in outside people in the field that work in different avenues in the field. What kids need to understand is you don’t just have to stand behind a chair to be in the beauty industry or barber industry, there are so many other avenues. I think that’s very good and I definitely want them to know that.
How long have you been a professional barber?
I’ve been a professional barber for at least 16 years. It’s hard to believe I’m that old, but yeah I’ve been licensed 16 years. I’ve been licensed in three states – Ohio, Georgia and Texas. I will renew in all 3 states every 2 years.
Why do you keep your barber license in all three states at once?
What made me decide to be licensed in three states is actually – I was born in Akron, Ohio, so when I went to barber school that’s where I obtained my first license from. Then from Ohio I moved to Atlanta, Georgia and of course when you move to another state if you want to work you gotta get licensed, so I had to get licensed there. Then I relocated again to Dallas, Texas and I got licensed there. But I always kept my license in every state because you just never know. I do a lot of traveling and I work in and out of the state, so I just kept all my licenses.
The experience I experienced from renewing state-to-state: Number one is that Ohio is a pretty well-recognized state when it comes to hours. For a barber license it’s 1800 hours, so I completed that, and basically what it boils down to when you go to any state after that – it’s about money.
Do you work out of a barbershop, own a shop, or work on-location for people?
I self-employed right now, I do on-location, so if someone wants to contract out and do – say like they’re shooting a video somewhere, or they’re shooting a movie this side of town, or in this city or that city, I’ll go there. If a school wants to bring me in and have me do a class or demonstration, then I go there. I’m accessible. I go anywhere.
I’ve seen some classics and I’ve seen some more daring cuts in your portfolio. Where do you get your inspiration from?
All right, I’m going to tell you something weird. A lot of the inspiration from my work comes from two places. When I show up to work, it’s either Barry B. that’s showing up or Stars Barber. So the Stars Barber is this flashy guy, over the top, boom-boom-boom. Barry B. is this conservative, mild-mannered guy. So I kind of talk to the client, assess them, and I kind of go from there. If they’re a conservative type of person, not too edgy, probably gonna go with more of a Barry B cut. But if they’re a daring person, want to try something new, definitely a Stars Barber cut, definitely more crazy.
You’ve repeatedly called your work “Contemporary Classic” – explain what that means.
I’ve always called my work “contemporary classic.” I look at my body of work like how Roberto Cabali looks at his collection that’s coming out for the fall. Basically, “contemporary classic” means a lot of hairstyles I do are influenced by hairstyles from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. We used to look at a lot of the hairstyles and trends, it’s nothing but those hairstyles brought up to date. I take a lot of my influence from that era. I’m 40 now, so back then I was maybe 17 to 20 or something like that, so I take a lot of those hairstyles that I was doing when I was cutting hair in my basement when I was 15 years old, and I just infused it with what’s going on today. That’s how I came up with the term “contemporary classic.”
What is your advice for someone who wants to become a celebrity stylist?
I would say in order to make the transition from a platform to a celebrity barber is a lot of marketing, a lot of networking, a lot of not taking “No’s.” My first celebrity client was Q Parker. I bugged the hell out of him on Facebook, literally bugged the hell out of him. But I was just real determined and he gave me that shot, and after I worked on him it just opened up the doors for other people. So I would say a lot of it is marketing, a lot of it is confidence too. You have to really be confident, and you have to be the type of person that’s not easily intimidated by people. Like when you work on them, you can’t be like, “Oh my God I’m your biggest fan!” Don’t do that. They hate that. You just treat them like anybody else. They will respect you at the end of the day. And you don’t want to be like, “Hey, my cousin Ray Ray he raps some, I got his CD, you want to listen to it?” Nah. Definite no-no.
You say you are a platform artist. For those who don’t know, explain what you do in that role.
I am a platform artist. It’s platform artist slash education> The first company I worked for was called American Crew. It’s usually a company with a product line, and what they want to do is incorporate the styling aspect with the product line and mesh the two together. So when you go to a trade show, you’ll actually see someone on stage styling hair and you’ll see product placement all around. The idea is to sell the product and show how the product can be incorporated with you doing your hairstyles. That’s basically what platform work and education is.
Talk about what you mean by being a barber educator, also.
I call myself a barber educator because I educate. I teach people how to cut hair. I teach them the philosophy of barbering. I teach people how to have a finish, how to get that certain look. I take a person and hold their hand from the beginning – how you’re going to get on that bike, to training wheels and pedals, and now we’re going to take the wheels off and you’re going to steer this bicycle. That’s the gradual transition I try to get the person in.
What are your top three pieces of advice for someone considering a future career in barbering?
My top three pieces of advice, and I’m going to go a little bit on my own experiences for it. Number 1: People are going to tell you, “Why don’t you go get a real job” from time to time. I would always respond to people that, “I don’t want a job, I want a career. And I have a career.” Number 2: Don’t let people discourage you as far as your field and your level of creativity. If you see something in your head go for it, do it. Do it. All styles have come about that way. Somebody envisioned something and they did it. If you see a certain vision in your head of a certain hairstyle, do it. Just try it. The worst that could happen is you don’t like it and you try something else. The 3rd thing is to surround yourself with people like you. Surround yourself with people who are positive, surround yourself with people who are hungry and want to learn more, and you can’t help but go to the top of it. You’ll be successful.
I just want to tell the people who have been supportive of me throughout the years, I just want to personally say thank you. Follow me on Twitter @TheStarsBarber, Instagram TheStarsBarber, Facebook The-Stars-Barber – that’s how we do it. And the website’s thestarsbarber.com. Much love to you guys. Much success. Hope to see you along the way.