Onstage, Wahl Professional artists and educators, Garland ‘G-Whiz’ Fox and Kristi Faulkner, are a formidable pair, challenging traditional perceptions around barbering and who should be doing it. The two are part of the Wahl Education and Artistic Team (WEAT) and they, along with other team members, represent the brand to millions at industry events and in classrooms across the world. Based in Sterling, IL, Wahl is a global force with distribution in 176 countries and with seven artistic teams based around the world.
Fox has been with Wahl for 21 years and is dual-licensed as a barber and cosmetologist. Faulkner, a licensed cosmetologist and barber for 28 years, joined Wahl 12 years ago. “Education is what led me to be with Wahl,” she remembers. “I always used Wahl clippers and every single year, Isadore (Adams, a Wahl Professional barbering pioneer and mentor) would ask me to get onstage at the Bronner Brothers Show but I declined. I never fully realized the opportunity he was giving me. After about five years, I took him up on it and I got up there and that’s where Garland and I started off. We have been side by side ever since.”
The two are joined by other artists who started out as Wahl Ambassadors. Some come to WEAT after winning the Wahl Online Barber Battle (submissions for the latest battle open in June 2019.) “Part of being the winner is you get to be on the team for one year and you also get to do a couple shows. But you still have to prove yourself,” explains Fox. “You might not last an hour onstage if you aren’t truly good at what you do.”
“Many of us that have been on the team for a while, we are Wahl users for life,” Faulkner adds. “We are looking for people like us, people so dedicated to Wahl. We want the real true Wahl believers.”
The ability to break-down a haircut into easy-to-replicate steps isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone so this is a crucial skill. Potential team members must be passionate about the tools and keep current on their uses and technology. Wahl recently introduced a clipper to commemorate their 100th anniversary and also The Mentor, a clipper that pays homage to Adams, the man many credit with building up barbering. “If I walk into a black barbershop and they look at me like I’m crazy, I will say, I know that Isadore used to come here, and I’m instantly accepted,” Faulkner says. “Isadore didn’t see color, he went everywhere.” Garland emphasizes the point: “At Wahl, we’re multi-colorless.”
The WEAT Team has been kept busy this year as beauty moves towards inclusivity in all things, and more cosmetologists want to learn traditional barbering and to be well-versed in all hair types. “For every one barber, you have seven cosmetologists,” Fox says. “It is a very hot trend—this combo barber and cosmo—and they are taking over the modern day barbershops.” Faulkner started her career in a multi-cultural salon where she became comfortable working on all heads of hair. “If you know your tools, you can achieve it because it’s just hair and texture.”
Internally, the team mentors each other at yearly training sessions where they share their strengths—educating on specific trends or techniques—and this support translates on and offstage. “If one of us is bombing, we go up onstage and we pump them up, maybe change the subject, help them get more comfortable, again,” Fox says. “We uplift each other.” And Faulkner agrees. “Garland is family to me. We have each other’s back no matter what. It’s exciting that we all support each other.”
So, what if someone wants to walk with Wahl and become part of their team? Fox answers that question this way: “You have got to have the skills—that’s a given—but our biggest priority is that you have loyalty to the craft, loyalty to the brand, and, most of all, to the people you are reaching and teaching.”