Break-up hair, we’ve all done it. Post separation, we go to the salon and get bangs, a radical cut or color transformation. It’s a signal of change, adopting a fresh, new identity. It’s the need to renew and look different. So what kind of statement is a post-break up career change to barbering?
Betty Hernandez (@bettysharp_) made just that statement in 2017. Currently applying her trade at Compound BarberShop in Brea, CA, her career journey actually started at California State-Fullterton, in Fullerton, CA, where she was just a few electives shy of completing her accounting degree before she entered the corporate world. She worked as an executive administrative assistant for the CEO of a prominent steel manufacturer that had commercial accounts such as the Pentagon and secure locations. Hernandez also discloses that she wasn’t in a healthy relationship, “I was emotionally, mentally and physically drained. I was in a really bad relationship and I didn’t find any fulfillment at work either. It just seemed like a lot of busy work. I knew for my sanity and safety, things needed to change.”
Making the Decision to Barber
In 2017 Hernandez borrowed money from her grandmother and enrolled in barber school. She says, “I was starting back at square one in a new career and as a single mom to two girls—11 and 19.” During this time her youngest daughter had a rapid progression of scoliosis that required surgery within 30 days of her diagnosis. “I took time off of school to take care of my daughter. I worked as a stocker at night and in the day for a few hours at a barber shop.”
For her first barbering job interview in 2018 at Manny’s Barbershop in Long Beach, CA, Hernandez wanted to show she was a serious professional and showed up wearing an office appropriate pants suit with her resume in a manilla folder. Manny gave her a chance and teased the then apprentice in barbering school about her 90-minute hair cuts. During her two year stint at Manny’s, Hernandez earned her barbering license and perfected her techniques and cuts on the multiracial clientele.
What Makes Barbering So Badass
Hernandez appreciates the new found freedom, personal growth and creativity she’s experienced since she started barbering. At the end of 2020, she started at The Compound Barbershop, which is a shorter commute for her. Last year she became a Johnny B. ambassador and educator and she started her own small business, AumkaraLashes, mink lashes and self-care products. She says, “It’s based on the OM mantra. I have the Sanskrit symbol tattooed on my hand. It’s what started me on my journey to truly loving who I am. The ying & yang of my essence. It is symbolic of the vibrational frequency of the universe.”
When asked why she chose barbering, she says, “In my corporate life, I always worked with men which modernwas my norm. I was comfortable with that.” Nowadays, instead of pushing paper, she’s pushing a straight razor and performing cuts, color, relaxers and perms.
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