Last spring, with limited access to outside campus due to Covid-19, students were unable to visit barbershops for haircuts. Ben Perez ’23 had a simple solution. He would be the barber. The first students on campus to receive Perez’s haircuts were his own dormmates in Stuart House.
“Charles Murphy [’23]—he was in my dorm, [and] we’re pretty close friends—he was the first person who trusted me to give him a haircut, and then he actually really liked it… after that, people saw that I would give him a haircut, and then my other friends who were in the dorm, they were like, ‘give me a haircut now, you know I want a haircut,’ so then eventually that’s how it went around,” said Perez.
Perez credits his mother, YouTube tutorials, and his background in art for helping him to hone his skills in haircutting. He feels that many of the techniques he uses in drawing overlap with haircut styles, such as shading with a pencil and fading, a haircutting technique that gradually transitions skin to hair through layering.
“My mom is a hairstylist, so she kind of taught me how to cut my own hair, like watching YouTube videos, looking in mirrors, stuff like that; I used to do it in my bathroom, so that’s how I started… People will walk around with my work—I feel like haircuts are kind of like a piece of art in a way—especially as I like to draw, and I’m an artist. Shading, [and] stuff like that, that you do in drawing… definitely translates into haircuts and making sure that there isn’t too much contrast, you know where can you make it darker, where can you make it lighter,” said Perez.
His own experiences of not being able to get a routine haircut due to the inaccessibility of barbershops prompted Perez to start giving haircuts to other students who are also in need. Perez started inviting his friends to find him if they needed haircuts.
“I know how it feels when you need a haircut, especially for people who are used to getting a haircut every two weeks. I mean going a month without a haircut, two months without a haircut, it really brings down your self-esteem and confidence. So then I went to my friends [and said], ‘hey if you need a haircut, let me know, I know how to do it,’ so my friends will come through and get a haircut.” said Perez.
Perez stated that he usually cuts short to medium hair and can do haircuts such as fades and line-ups.
“Usually, I do short to medium hair; I don’t really know that much… I could do little pieces of work, but mostly fading, fades, line-ups, I could cut a little bit off the top, [but I stick to] short to medium hair,” said Perez.
Murphy received a haircut from Perez last spring and expressed his satisfaction with the result and recommended Perez to other students who are in need of a haircut.
“It was an amazing haircut, one of the best I’ve ever received. And when he’s giving you a haircut he blasts Bachata, which is cultural, Hispanic music and it’s amazing. It’s a lot of fun…. [I recommend Perez to other students] a hundred percent. Yeah, he gives some really nice cuts,” said Murphy.
Another recipient of Perez’s haircut, Adrian Morrison ’23, was also impressed by Perez’s work. Morrison described Perez’s haircut as good as some of his previous’ barbers.
“I was really happy with the whole experience. I went to the common room of Foxcroft and just relaxed while he did his thing. We put on some music and were just talking. At the end, I was actually surprised at how good the cut was. He’s definitely as good as some of the older barbers I’ve had cut my hair in the past,” said Morrison.
Editor’s Note: Adrian Morrison ’23 is a Copy Associate for The Phillipian.