Brand Masters is a new series that explores what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur in the contemporary landscape of culture. Whether you’re building a name for yourself or your label/store, these individuals have gone through the process and drop dimes.
A couple of weeks ago we talked to Angel Raws, co-founder of Barber Verzuz and someone who truly understands the value of investing in yourself. This week, we’re chopping it up with his partner Ramon Zavala, known on the scene as Papito Blessedhands. Holding it down for Fort Worth, Texas, Papito is passionate about educating a new generation of barbers and seeing those around him succeed. Like Angel, he understands the value in investing in the craft. With his own brand, Blessed by Papito Blessedhands, and an educator role with BaByliss Pro, Papito drops a lot of knowledge and help for those looking to become first time barbers.
From the streets
Growing up in the projects in Puerto Rico, Papito, like everyone else, looked up to three types of people to make it out of the hood – ballers, gangsters and barbers. After moving to New Jersey around the age of 12, he was cutting hair for the homies and already knew he had the skills to make a living out of it. His mom on the other hand, didn’t see barbering as a profession until he started making some money and then ended up buying him some clippers.
But the ways of the streets pulled Papito back a few times and eventually he had to make the choice to get out permanently.
Make it out
With practice and passion, Papito has built himself into a major player in the barbering industry and he reflects on how his mom feels about it now.
And one of the most important keys to making it is branding. Every single one of our Brand Masters has talked about it. Shit, that’s why the series features that word. Papito’s take on branding is very unique compared to everyone else, he defines it as growth.
“How to build your brand, run your brand, that’s haircutting. It’s better than learning how to cut a fade, because you’re gonna learn that regardless. So if they’re already gonna learn that, let me focus on something that they’re really not learning, which is barbershop etiquette.”
The knowledge from years in the game both on and off the street really helped Papito when he was developing Barber Verzuz with Angel. They knew how to brand the event and they know what it needs to do moving forward in order to reach a new audience and the next generation.
Papito also says that guys have too much ego and that a lot of the ladies cut better than the fellas so there won’t be female vs. female specific battles coming up.
And it’s no surprise his favorite battle was the same as Angel’s.
“I tell people, anybody who knows how to Photoshop, trust me, they know how to cut hair.”
First time barber advice
So what’s the major key to success for first time barbers? According to Papito, it’s discipline. You have to be professional and want it. If you’re the boss, you have to lead by example, no excuses.
And while many people think that the clippers and sheers are a barber’s best friend, your phone actually is. Always keep it close because you never know when you’ll get an important call. And what about the haters who complain about the use of Photoshop? Papito has an answer for that too.
“I consider everybody like a colleague, rather than competition. I see it as motivation.”
And you’ll know you made it when you stop seeing everyone as competitors and start seeing them as inspiration.
Papito followed his passion to get out of a rough situation and that’s why he believes that education for the next generation is so critical. Because his mom was a teacher, he saw firsthand how beneficial it is to nurture and grow other people’s shared passion. Papito is currently in the process of opening up his own barber school in Texas called Blessed Barber Academy. He can’t wait to teach the youth about barber etiquette on top of the sickest techniques.
To keep up with Papito Blessedhands and Barber Verzuz, check out the social media accounts below and drop a comment on who you want to see go head-to-head.
This series was made possible by Squire, the premier barbershop POS software. To learn more, hit up getsquire.com.
If you’re a first time barber or even someone established, look out for more episodes of Brand Masters each week.
Written by Matt Peng
Interview conducted by Curvel Baptiste
Transcription by Olivia Hawkins
Produced by Madeline Carpentiere
Photos via Papito Blessedhands