Written by Ksenia Kazantseva for Look Magazine May 2021.
His name is Khris and he is a mobile and studio barber in Toronto.
Khris’ journey into barbering began a few years after high school — first cutting his cousin Roderick’s hair — doing a terrible job — inciting him to want to keep learning. However, Khris’ initial interest in hair started much earlier when he realized in high school that all the kids his age would express themselves with their unique styles, cuts and lineups. At the time, Khris was going to the barber his family went to with his friends getting at him for his crooked lineups and old-man fades. A friend of his named Owen finally took him to a barber shop at Weston Road and Lawrence and Manny changed his life — he was his first REAL barber. The cut gave him a confidence he didn’t previously feel, and he continued to save up his money to visit Manny every week from then on.
“Every time someone new ask me for advice on becoming a barber, I always tell them to see how they feel after their first few haircuts. If they say they could do it for free, I know it’s the right career for them.”
With the desire to learn more, Khris took to Instagram to research a variety of barbers in Toronto. He wanted to get to know the industry, the lifestyle and what it really entailed to be a professional barber. “While researching I found Justin Miandro, owner of The Barber Studio in Mississauga. He was offering apprentice positions in his shop… and almost every Sunday for a year I would take a GO Bus from Union Station to Streetsville Mississauga to learn what I could from him and his team.” Not only did he learn how to cut hair — valuable tips in customer service, communication, money management, and business practice was all knowledge he took away from the apprenticeship. Khris’ first part time job was at JC’s barbershop at Oakwood Road and Eglinton West — a legendary barber in Little Jamaica — where he spent six months feeling grateful to be under his wing. Since then, Khris has worked at Throne Barbershop (in downtown Toronto), Coldkutz Barbershop, and the Groomsmen Barbershop. Currently, Khris works from home in his own studio.
Khris can describe the barbering industry in three words — first, hustle. “To gain clientele, you have to constantly be promoting your work, whether it be social media, through personal conversations, or even handing out flyers to strangers on the street.” To keep that clientele, Khris mentions the importance of consistent work ethic. The second word — passion, “If you aren’t passionate about the industry, it will show in your work and overall work habits.” The last word — communication, “I’ve been blessed to cut so many people behind my chair… hopefully they’ve learned a few things from me cause I’ve definitely learned a lot from them.”
There are a few misconceptions in the barbering industry — specifically the idea of ‘overcharging’. A lot of people see the Instagram posts of a lavish lifestyle, cars and luxury travel yet they don’t see the years of work it takes to get there. Barbers have to pay for their own health benefits — and there is no sick pay or vacation pay, they only get paid when they physically do the work. Whether a barber charges $20 or $100, Khris believes that they have earned the right to charge that price with the work they have put in behind the scenes.
“I feel like if I can change someone’s day within a 40 minute span… it’ll cause a ripple effect of positivity with whoever they interact with.” - Khris on the passion he feels with being a barber.
Being in this industry during a pandemic has been difficult to say the least. Khris touches on the impact on his mental health when barbershops were shut down. He had gone from actively working long hours to nothing in an instant. Initially, the stress of earning money worried him — until he turned to Youtube to begin showcasing the lifestyle of barbering, and using his time in quarantine productively. He realized that although there were a variety of videos teaching people how to cut hair, there was a shortage of real insight into the industry. Khris now leads a Youtube channel that consists of advice from himself and other barbers in the industry. He wants to share knowledge and help other aspiring barbers on their journey.
Within 5 years, Khris sees himself opening a private studio in Toronto — as a sole business owner. With the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic, he believes in safety and comfortability for his clients. This will also give him the opportunity to run his own business and work out any obstacles before committing to a full barbershop on his own in the future. Khris is continuing to build his Youtube audience and also aspires to get his Real Estate license. He believes there are a lot of similarities between the two industries. “I love the hustle of making a sale and gaining clientele so I feel it would be a perfect fit.”
Looking forward to seeing what Khris has in store for the future. If you would like to reach him you can follow his instagram @khris416.