Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “a woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” To apply that to Felicia “Lici” Febo, stateside she was Lipton and now in her newly adopted homeland across the pond, she’s smoother and stronger than a cup of Earl Gray.   Febo doesn’t know anything except how to be strong.

Born in the Bronx, NY, She was involved in a childhood accident that burned parts of her body and limited the full range of motion of her hands. To help her recover, she drew and created art. Coming from a modest background, she extended her creative skills to hair. Febo says, “My parents never took us out to get our hair done. I picked up skills by practicing on my brother’s hair. After my mom died and my dad was incarcerated, I started barbering to support myself. I also found it therapeutic as a creative outlet.”    

Lici Lady Barber is elevating the industry through creative expression and professional development. 
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Lici Lady Barber is elevating the industry through creative expression and professional development. 

A Female Barber in a Male-Dominated Career

A licensed barber in Puerto Rico in 2009, and in the United States since 2012, Febo earned respect in the male dominated barbering industry by competing in barber challenges and winning. She appeared on the CW’s Cedric’s Barber Battle television show and is now a national educator for multiple hair brands. Her mantra is “Fear is a manifestation of your insecurities” and she consistently works to quiet her internal insecurities.

In March 2021, the charismatic single mother of three, moved with her daughter to England for the next chapter in her career, HairFluent Barber and Beauty Studio. Febo partnered with Lakeesha Thomas, retired military with no experience in the beauty industry, to create a business to cater to natural hair texture and focus on mental health.

She says, “In this area [Mildenhall Bury Saint Edmunds, England] there are no natural texture hair specialists and clients drive at least an hour to get their hair done. I came out here in December 2020 to get the business started and partnered with Lakeesha to build the business. The idea was to train the team and show her how to run the day to day operations. To my surprise we could not hire qualified barbers or stylists to work and I had to make the decision to move in order to make the business work.

"I saw an opportunity to educate the community on loving their natural looks, haircare, maintenance, and I also could train future barbers and stylists just the same. We recently rebranded and are opening our new location, HairFluent Barber and Beauty Studio. We provide braid, locs, cuts, styling, nail, and color services."

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Five Questions For Felicia

1. How did you start educating? 

My career was built on barber competitions and networking events. I did not learn much in school and relied heavily on my artistic ability and tact to work through my techniques. I was inspired by Christina Goree and Kenny Duncan—both respected barbers in the industry—but most of all I was captivated by their teaching style. I enrolled in school to become an educator. I applied to Paul Mitchell the School San Antonio as a Learning Leader, and it was here that I honed in on my skills as an educator. This industry has literally changed my life and it is my goal to elevate the standard of the barber and beauty industry through creative liberation, professional development, and personal growth.

2.  What is it like being a female barber?

I believe that initially as a female barber there's always going to be speculation on skillset, experience, and barbershop atmosphere. Female barbers have a little more to prove out here and they have to be confident at their craft to get the support needed to stay successful. Women must also assert boundaries to maintain a professional environment and maintain credibility no matter what part of the world they’re located in. I have gained a clientele quickly since I've come out to the UK and my books are full at least 2 weeks in advance.  My clients appreciate the female aspect that I bring towards personal hair care and maintenance. They love how I am consistent, how I pay attention to detail, how I personalize their look, and how they learn something new everytime they sit in my chair. I have met quite a few female barbers here in the UK and US who are successful, some are business owners, and they all love serving their community. Each one of these extraordinary women follow these same principles.

3. How is barbering different in the United Kingdom versus the United States? 

In my opinion the biggest difference in barbering in the US versus the UK is that hairstyling is more classic and traditional in the UK. There are amazing barbers out here that are creative and artistic as editorial artists but there are few. The focus is more about making a haircut functional and practical for a client whereas in the US, haircuts can be aimed towards flashiness and edge. <b> What about being a female barber? </B>  

I believe that initially as a female barber there's always going to be speculation on skillset, experience, and barbershop atmosphere. Female barbers have a little more to prove out here and they have to be confident at their craft to get the support needed to stay successful. Women must also assert boundaries to maintain a professional environment and maintain credibility no matter what part of the world they’re located in. I have gained a clientele quickly since I've come out to the UK and my books are full at least 2 weeks in advance.  My clients appreciate the female aspect that I bring towards personal hair care and maintenance. They love how I am consistent, how I pay attention to detail, how I personalize their look, and how they learn something new everytime they sit in my chair. I have met quite a few female barbers here in the UK and US who are successful, some are business owners, and they all love serving their community. Each one of these extraordinary women follow these same principles. 

4. What is the mental health aspect of HairFluent Barber and Beauty Studio?

In my career, I have seen too many children and teenagers with textured hair asking for relaxers because their parents and they do not know how to care for their hair and they get bullied in school for having unruly hair. Some of these kids hurt themselves, and one even took her life. These kids are born into multiracial families and need education and support in caring for their beautiful, curly, bouncy hair with such personality. Our goal is to give them the support they need to truly understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with their hair and in fact is the very thing that makes them unique. We will be offering free educational grooming services specifically for biracial families whose kids are being bullied and create a  personalized hair care routine.

As a professional I only see texture, formation, density and overall health. Hair is hair and it comes in different shapes and color. Each requires a specific approach in cutting, styling and coloring.

5. What are your career goals now being in the UK?

My goal here in the UK is to open a barber and beauty school as a Paul Mitchell partner school. I'd like to get back into competitions, network with the UK barber and beauty community and potentially throw my own event in a few years' time. 

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