El Centro barber Fernie Lynn recalls having to temporarily relocate to Los Angeles in 2003 to obtain his license from the Royal Institute and then returning to Imperial County to start his career.
Thanks to his initiative, aspiring hair stylists no longer have to make that trek. Lynn operates SC Barber School at 769 Park Ave. in El Centro. It is on the approved school list for the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
“We’ve been open just over a year. I’ve been a barber for 16 years. Six years ago, I decided to do something about the industry,” he said, explaining the school’s start. “I really didn’t like the way the industry was going. I always knew I wanted to be an instructor.”
Despite his ambition, it took nearly five years of planning and saving for Lynn to get SC Barber open.
Now, it offers day and night classes with a capacity of 100 studentsand 27 enrolled. While helping a client achieve the look they seek is the primary objective, Lynn explained success stems from skills he works to instill in every student.
“Customer service and time-management consistency are critical skills for barbers and every other profession,” he said.“In my curriculum I teach job readiness, resume building, how to do your taxes, client retention, finances, and how to open your own business.”
Those abilities were something of which the local barber industry needed more, he noted.
“I did see a lot of unprofessionalism locally. A lot of new barber shops were opening and were offering jobs to unlicensed barbers,” he explained. “There was a boom about 10 years ago in the local barber industry. Barber shops were unable to hire licensed barbers because there were no schools here to license anyone.”
While American Beauty Academy in Brawley added a barber school two years ago, Lynn said he saw a greater demand he could fulfill.
The making of a professional barber requires another unflashy element equally important to the required business acumen, Lynn explained. At his school hygiene comes first and a proficient barber maintains a reverence for itsimilar to the medical profession.
“The reason is to protect the client,” Lynn explained. “Disinfection, sanitation, overall client protection and infection control. Believe it or not, just because I use a comb on you and there is not a cut or blood, I can still transfer bacteria to another client if I do not sanitize my equipment correctly.”
Recent trends in men’s fashion bring male clients to traditional barber shops in search of more invasive procedures such as beard care and eyebrow waxing, making hygiene even more important
“The more invasive the procedure, the more sanitization is required. Often unlicensed barbers who know how to sanitize a comb may not know how to sanitize a waxing pod, thread, and facial product,” he said.
To learn those specialized skills, as well as have the ability and confidence to get a client the look they desire, aspiring barbers are required to complete 1500 hours of education in 10 to 12 months. Students who take 30 hours of class a week graduate in one year.
When students are in training, they cut hair of friends or family for tips until they complete the program, Lynn added.
“Students are required to do 80 haircuts and 240 hairstyles to complete the program,” he said. “In barber school, students are required to learn how to do women’s hair, which includes perms, hair color, bleach, straighteners, curling iron, blow dryer. They have to learn it all as part of the state requirement and they get tested on it.”
Those interested in finding out more about the school may locate it on social media or the website www.liscschool.com. Many programs are available to help students pay for their education.
“I have a promotion now for $7,400. The minimum down payment is $1,500 to start, which pays for the first month of tuition, books, uniforms and enrollment fees. Students pay the balance as they complete the curriculum,” he said.
Lynn said he created his school with a passion to educate young members of the community to excel in all aspects of the customer service industry. Barbering is a solid career for those with the right skills and outlook, he added.
“If you’re hands on, or even if you have a career but want a little more freedom, barbering is definitely the career for you,” Lynn said. “We’re planning to a cosmetology school by the end of the year. I am an advocate for all vocational training. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree anymore to make a living.”