So, in case you don’t know what all the buzz is about, allow us to feel you in. Meet Speaker, Entrepreneur and Lady Clipper Barbershop Founder, Lesley ‘Lady Clipper’ Bryant. A former real estate graphic designer, Bryant took her design skills to the barbershop and created her own lane; as she continues to dominate the hair industry and make boss moves. And let’s just say forcing male barbers, to Level Up! Since opening its doors in 2017, Lady Clipper Barbershop, a female-owned and operated barber shop based in Washington D.C., has been slashing the stereotype of barbers being an all ‘boys club’ one asymmetrical cut at a time. With a passion for purpose, precision and presentation, ‘The Lady Clipper’ proves her distinctive styling skills are unparalleled and she’s a force to be reckoned. In two years, since opening, Lesley has catered to over 2,000 clients and continues to be an innovator and inspiration in the community. Sheen had the pleasure of catching up with the entrepreneur to discuss her challenges in a male-dominated industry, changing the narrative of barber shops and her journey to becoming ‘The Lady Clipper’. Check out below in this Sheen Exclusive!
With a background in graphic design from your career in real estate, how do you feel this skill has contributed to your success as a barber?
I definitely feel that having a background in graphic design really made it easy for me to do this profession. You know coming into this industry I already possessed an eye for design, structure and composition. It’s very important in your client consultation, to not only listen but lead the client to the results they ultimately want. I know the discipline and the work ethic from my real estate background taught me not only how to build relationships with my clients but the importance of maintaining those relationships in any industry.
What have been some of your challenges being in a male-dominated industry?
When people walk into a barbershop and you’re the only one standing there, they have an initial sense of shock. It was so interesting to me and I feel like it’s definitely a gap when it comes to female barbers and male barbers in the industry. In 2017, it was said to be only 16% of female barbers in America. So, it’s important to me to flip the ‘boys club’ narrative on it’s head and to make it an inviting environment for all artists and hairstylists.
How important was it for you to not only keep the barbershop female owned but operated by female barbers only?
Yes. It’s a staff of four women and the importance of that is to make sure it’s a safe place for their creativity. I want my barbers to have a different experience than I had, being the only female barber in an all-male barbershop. I also feel that the relationship the client can build with their barber or hairstylist really makes a difference in the outcome of the hairstyle. The female touch is something that a lot of the clients love and appreciate. The listening, the care and time we take to the needs of each client.
With a passion for precision and purpose; in what ways do you feel creating visual representations for your clients of who they are through hairstyles has enhanced your power as a female entrepreneur?
I feel very empowered when I see our clients pleased with the outcome of their hairstyles. It’s also the client’s confidence that slides through the roof is what motivates me. (she says laughingly) Sometimes, I add my own ideas or suggestions of taking some hair off here or there to really accentuate a clients jawline or cheekbones. I feel like this is a quality that many hairstylists miss, which is really taking the time to cater to the client.
Some women tend to view the barbershop industry as an all ‘boys only club’ and may be intimidated. Any advice for women that want to become barbers?
I would say first, master the craft. Noone can question your ability; get a mentor and enroll in a good school. If you can, definitely invest the money to enroll in a good school. I would also tell them to come by and visit us. We are always open to the community, open to having those types of conversations and we allow interested barbers to shadow us. When potential barbers shadow us, you get a direct insight on how we do our consultations, caring to our clients needs and watch or record the entire fading process. It’s important for anyone interested in this industry to know, you have to be on top of your game!
How would you say your journey as an entrepreneur in real estate to now as a barber differ or are alike?
I feel like they’re both alike, than different. The tools that I use from the real estate industry such as the work ethic is what makes both industries alike. To be honest, I feel like I work harder now. I’m not under the umbrella of a corporate company that already has branding professionals, a lot of money for marketing help and exposure. Now, I have to create that umbrella for myself and cultivate what I want my company and brand to be like. However, being in real estate has taught me the power of relationships, relationships, relationships! It’s important to not only retain clientele but having a level of trust from your clients. When people know that you care about them personally, they’re more likely to continue to return for your services.
What’s next for Lesley ‘The Lady Clipper’ Bryant? What can our readers expect from you in the future?
Currently we are working on expanding our space. I would like to continue to inspire female barbers to step out and open more shops. I want to encourage barber conventions to keep the competitions integrated. Many times it’s female barbers against other female barbers and it should just be all barbers competing against each other no matter the gender. Let’s make these environments more inclusive. I want to show my talents on a wider scale and one day have a franchise of barber shops