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EVO Rewind: Elliott Chester interview

HAVING BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY FOR OVER 20 YEARS, IT’S SAFE TO SAY LAS VEGAS-BASED ELLIOTT CHESTER HAS A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE UNDER HIS BELT. BARBERING IS SO INGRAINED IN ELLIOTT’S WAY OF LIFE, HE BARELY REMEMBERS A TIME WHEN HE DIDN’T HAVE A PAIR OF CLIPPERS.

“I’ve always been a barber; my step-mom’s sister was married to this cat that cut his own hair, so there were always clippers in the house, so I just started cutting my own hair, my friends, people on the football team.” 

As time went by, Elliott started taking regular trips to the barber with his dad, and in his sophomore year he was expelled from school for having his nickname shaved onto his head, despite the fact that a fellow student did the same thing and instead of being kicked out, his was considered ‘team spirit’. This led to a discrimination lawsuit against the school board, which became such a big deal in Arizona – where he was based at the time – that it was turned into an editorial cartoon in a paper.

The impact of the case drove him to become the barber he is today. “Not only through my hairstyle was I speaking up for my right to be different, but also my right to express myself, and it taught me that how you show yourself to the world is such a powerful thing.” After finishing school and spending some time in the local music scene, he needed a new direction and the one constant for him was his love of cutting hair. “I went to barber college in Bakersfield, California, and that was it, I just dumped all of my energy into it and it was something I became so passionate about.”

Bakersfield became his stomping ground for the first eight years of his career after graduation, working in salons where barbers worked alongside hairstylists in a shared space. Feeling limited by the small, conservative style of the town, Elliott started driving to and working weekends in Las Vegas where a friend of his owned a barbershop. “In Bakersfield I was charging $12 a cut, but in Vegas we were charging $20, so almost double, plus sometimes you’d get a $20 tip, so the move was a no-brainer.”

After working in his friend’s salon for just over a year, he read a salon magazine article about a barbershop in Caesar’s Palace (Truefitt & Hill), on the Las Vegas strip. “I had never seen anything like it, the barber chairs were beautiful, the barbers were all dressed in suits, they just looked dope…to me it was what barbering was supposed to be.”

Elliott, wearing shorts and a t-shirt at the time, immediately went out and got himself a suit just so he could feel adequately dressed to go into the shop and introduced himself as a barber and luckily, they were hiring. The master barber met him and offered him the opportunity to audition, which was, unsurprisingly, quickly followed up by a job offer, which turned into a year of incredible experiences.

From there, he was recruited by another barbershop on the strip, ‘The Art of Shaving,’ where he stayed for two years. “I really used that period as a time to learn and discover the style of barbering that I do, which is really catering to a higher-end clientele. It was like going back to school again and it made me realize what I wanted to do, which is when I stretched out and opened up Elliott and Company in December 2007.”

 The shop, located just 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, takes inspiration from the old-school, traditional barbershops of the early 1900s. “I didn’t want it to be a throwback, I wanted to have those elements, but a modern representation of that.” Designed to be a welcoming space, rather than having all the chairs on one side of the room, the four chairs were across from each other to create open communication and group culture.

For Elliott, being a barber is about running a good business, to have a positive effect on the community and provide a great, relaxing experience. He has built up a diverse range of talented staff that reflects his wide client base so that everyone feels represented and welcome. “It’s not about me, or my shop, it’s about the customers, those guys are the stars, not me.”

“I made a conscious decision to put the retail section directly across from the seating areas so that when customers are waiting, they are looking directly at the retail products we offer, so they can maybe take home a piece of that barbershop experience with them,” Elliott explains, and this attitude to business has served him well as a Layrite ambassador.

“I had heard about Layrite before I met Donnie. I was introduced to the Layrite guys by Jay Majors at the International Beauty Show in Vegas and we hit it off real quick. I was looking for a good product line that I could really stand behind and I knew the history of Donnie and it meant a lot to me as a product line because a barber made it, it came from the barbering world. I wanted to support a product line that supports us as an industry, and the product works, Layrite Original Pomade is a staple.”

Establishing that relationship with Layrite meant a lot to Elliott because they understood what was going on in the barbering industry because they themselves were deeply entrenched in it. 

“I was always really flattered if they asked for my feedback on products like the Natural Matte Cream or Cement Clay, you know they cared about my opinion. I just kept begging them for a decent shampoo and conditioner, not some ‘guys are lazy’ 3-in-1 bullshit, a real quality product and they listened and came out with a great shampoo and conditioner. Honestly, every product in their line is dope and it works really well, I use it every single time.”

Elliott was lucky enough to be in on the ground floor when Layrite began building the Band of Barbers with people like Jake Shipwreck, Kenny Duncan and more. “It was much more than just being sponsored by Layrite, it was a bunch of folk who really believe in education and in helping to grow the industry, so when they extended the invitation I was beyond honored. It’s the greatest professional honor of my career.”

EVO Rewind: Miguel Rosas interview

Welcome to the first EVO Rewind!

We will be regularly uploading to the website some of our favourite BarberEVO interviews of the past several years… and who better to start us off?

Back in October 2018, we exclusively interviewed Wahl Education and Artistic Team member Miguel Rosas.

He opened his first barbershop in his teens, has won over 25 barber battle trophies, came first on Cedric’s Barber Battle TV show and now leads the way with his academy in Moline, Illinois.

You can read the full interview below and view the spread as it appeared in the printed magazine too!

You can follow Miguel on Instagram here.


CREATIVITY, RESOURCEFULNESS AND AN EYE FOR DETAIL ARE ONLY A FEW OF THE QUALITIES WHICH MADE MIGUEL ROSAS STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD AND BE NOTICED, NOW IN HIS THIRD YEAR AS A MEMBER OF THE WAHL EDUCATION AND ARTISTIC TEAM.

At just 19 years old, launching his own barbershop proved to be a steep learning curve for Miguel Rosas. However, the challenges and pitfalls of starting up a business so early on have only fuelled Miguel’s desire to learn, improve, and pursue his passion for the craft. Fast forward several years later, he is now part of the Wahl Education and Artistic Team, CEO of The New Style Barbershop and, as of February, a proud proprietor of his own barbering school, the New Style Hair Academy in Moline, Illinois. Miguel is without doubt a barber who perseveres through adversity and keeps on going.    

Getting into business with an older and perhaps more streetwise business partner proved to be costly and set Miguel back considerably at such a young age. Things didn’t work out smoothly for his first barbershop attempt, but this didn’t deter him. Miguel quickly realized that there were gaps in his knowledge that needed to be filled in order for him to run a business successfully, in addition to having those crucial barbering skills. He enrolled in classes to cover essential business skills such as accounting, taxes and balancing the books. Miguel explains: “My next step was to open up a barbershop somewhere else in the area… this time round I wanted to make sure if I did it, I was just a lot more professional about it, so that was the reason why I took the classes.”

Miguel has been an avid participant in Barber Battles, having won over 25 trophies to date.  Outgrowing the barbering challenges presented in his local area, he wanted to compete further afield in places such as Chicago, Texas and New York. He recalls, “I saw the Barber Battle and I thought, you know what? I want to do that. I want to go see how good I am compared to these guys in the bigger city.”  

Having placed third in his first competition, Miguel was both scared and hooked by the experience in equal measures, and he was ready to compete again. Backed by a supportive group which included his hair models, they would drive on the road for up to 16 hours to attend competitions. These barber battles judged the ability of barbers on a myriad of different categories such as fastest fade, best portrait, best design, and best old-school style. It was at these earlier competitions that Miguel first met prominent figures from Wahl Professional, such as the late Isadore Adams.  

Miguel notes the importance of strategy to his rising success in competitions. “I would choose people with really good hair, thick hair, hair with bleach to see the fade really nice – it’d stick out really well. It’s all about choosing the right canvas. You need to have a really good canvas, it’s really important when you’re doing a Barber Battle.”

Opportunities for television-wide publicity really took off for Miguel after his barbering skills were noticed by Lee Resnick from Barbershop Connect following a first-place competition win. Lee’s contacts in both the barbering and the television industry would boost Miguel into the limelight, having secured him a competing place on Cedric’s Barber Battle.

Miguel reflects: “Man, when I got that phone call I was super excited, getting a phone call from Beverly Hills from the producer, and he’s telling me all the details… I’m thinking, ‘I’ve made it’. It was definitely one of the most exciting journeys of my barbering career, knowing I was gonna be on T.V., the world was gonna see me, and I was gonna be able to put my barbering skills to the ultimate test.”

Following on from his television success, Miguel aspired to share the many skills and barbering techniques he had learnt along the way, and it seemed naturally fitting that he wanted to work for a five-star brand such as Wahl Professional as a hair design educator. Miguel really went the extra mile to get his name noticed within the company. He took the initiative by reaching out via social media to express his interest in the role, but it was one striking haircut that really made him stand out from the crowd – a portrait of then Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta.

“I went to the game in Chicago, I was in the very last seat, all the way up in the very top. I had my friend’s son with me that I did the design on. I said, ‘let’s try and get down on the field somehow.’ So we did, we just started pushing through everybody. Finally, they let him go onto the field and he ran up to Jake Arrieta. Some people think that was set up, like we were invited onto the field – it wasn’t like that.” Demonstrating his skill set was something that Miguel had always gone above and beyond to do, and it had finally paid off.

The haircut went viral across social media, and was re-shared by both Major League Baseball and The Cubs on Instagram, garnering thousands of likes and comments, in addition to interviews by Fox 32, ABC, and Univision. As a self-taught artist who favors the Wahl Professional Detailer as his trimmer of choice, this just goes to show how far skill, creativity, perseverance and the right tools can get someone.

Miguel recalls that he was contacted by a representative from Wahl Professional, who told him that he posted a lot of good work and had a positive attitude – they were ready to talk to him about joining the Wahl Professional team. “And that’s kinda how that happened. It kinda just went from there,” he says.

Included in his portfolio of hair art are figures ranging from LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers, Anthony Rizzo and Floyd Mayweather to Bernie Sanders; even Colonel Sanders from KFC, which impressed one district manager enough to gift Miguel a prestigious card to receive free KFC food for life.

Miguel’s hair portraits are influenced by the work of barbers such as Radames Perez and Rob the Original, who were big inspirations in terms of portrait detailing. “Once I’d seen that this was possible, I just said, ‘well, shoot’, you know? If they can do it, I can do it. So I just started practising and I started off doing basic stencilized pictures of people’s faces; once I got good at doing the stencilized version of their face I would then start blending and fading, and creating detail with my clippers so that it would make it more lifelike, rather than a stencil or a cartoon look.”

This affinity for hair design has held Miguel in good stead throughout his career to date, however, he emphasizes that he’s not a one-trick pony. Whilst Miguel is confident with every aspect of men’s hair, hair detailing is his creative outlet. He states: “Some of the stuff you see, I didn’t do it because I was getting paid. I did it for my own satisfaction and being able to use a different type of medium when it comes to art… it’s not your bread and butter as a barber.”

Miguel has leapt towards every barbering opportunity and when there wasn’t one, he created it for himself through education and social networking savvy. His drive and attention to detail make him an excellent member of the Wahl Education and Artistic Team, for which he is now busy educating the next generation of skilled barbers in the use of premium Wahl Professional tools. 

OSMO CHARITY HAIR SHOWCASE

 OSMO recently held a Charity Hair Showcase in Middlesbrough in association with one of its customers: Wilkins & Stroud in aid of Zoe’s Place Children’s Hospice. The hospice is a registered children’s charity that provides palliative respite and care to babies and infants. 

Lesley Stitt, OSMO Global Educator was joined by OSMO Brand Ambassadors Heffy Wheeler and Adele Clarke with support from Becky Sutherland from Lush Hair & Beauty and Dan Harrison from Tom Baxter Hair, who all volunteered to take part in the show. 

The night focused on bright, vibrant hair trends; showcasing the OSMO colour portfolio including Color Psycho, IKON and Colour Revive. Using a vivid shade palette pairing across the model looks of black and green, orange and yellow, pink and orange tones with both barbering and hair texturizing techniques being presented to the guests. 

It was a hugely successful night and raised £1525.13 for the hospice. 

“I was so touched by the team as they volunteered their time and travelled from all over the country to take part after I’d mentioned what the show entailed. We’re immensely proud of the team and for the amount of money raised for such an amazing cause,” commented Lesly Stitt, OSMO Global Educator. 

Black Friday Sale!

We at BarberEVO Magazine couldn’t help but get involved with the Black Friday Sale madness… so here’s an amazing deal on subscriptions to our magazine… not to be missed!

50% off subscriptions to either BarberEVO UK & Ireland or BarberEVO North America!

Offers end Monday 2nd December.

UK & Ireland

Six issues – annual subscription – Commences with January 2020 edition #19

Normal price: £35 – BLACK FRIDAY SALE PRICE: £17.50

UK & Ireland

Six issue annual subscription

Normal price: £35

BLACK FRIDAY PRICE: £17.50

North America

Six issue annual subscription

Normal price: $100

BLACK FRIDAY PRICE: $50