Brooklyn-based barber, Ricardo “Spice” Watson knows that a haircut can change a man’s life. Passionate and a perfectionist to his core, Ricardo got his start as a teenager, following a family legacy. With an infectious positivity and a keen eye for detail, Ricardo’s are hands you can trust with any cut – including first aid for a haircut emergency. We tagged along with Ricardo to hear more about what really goes on behind the scenes at the barber shop, manly trends making a comeback, and what inspired him to take up the craft.
How long have you been a barber?
I’ve been a barber since I was 15-years-old, so for about 17 years now.
How’d you get started?
My dad is a professional barber, so I took the reins to the family business from him.
Can you tell us a bit about how you run your business?
During the week, I usually prefer to take appointments and house-calls, but on the weekends it’s a lot busier, so I take walk-ins. It’s hard to take appointments on Fridays and Saturdays since it gets so busy.
How do you find most of your clients?
Through social media, walk-ins, networking, and word-of-mouth, when a friend recommends to a friend and so on.
What’s the most rewarding part of your career as a barber?
I would say that having the ability to make someone look awesome, like you’re changing someone’s future. Most of the time, people come in looking a little raggedy, but when I’m finished with them, they’re like a whole new person. I love the ability to change someone’s image like that.
If you weren’t a barber, what do you think you’d be doing for a living?
I can’t see myself doing anything else right now – I love it! I’d like to expand, eventually to own a couple of barber shops around New York and the Caribbean.
Do you have a hobby or something you enjoy doing on your free time?
I like to shop, travel, watch movies – all the regular good stuff. And church, of course – I attend a Baptist church in Queens.
What’s one tip you’d give someone who’s just starting their career as a hair stylist or barber?
I would tell them to first perfect their trade, and the money will come after. Most people go into this work for the money, but in most professions, you need to perfect your art first. Once you become a perfectionist – which I am – then the clients and business follow.
Where do you prefer to work – in the shop or in homes?
I like the barbershop vibe, actually! The conversations! It had us considering making it a show, like on MTV or something, because the conversations that come out of the barbershop are just so crazy! We’re also a salon – we have hairdressers, we do the mingling, we have this social chatter that gets very interesting.
How do you feel about the latest trends in hair? Do you like the new hairstyles that kids want these days?
I love it. A lot of the old trends are coming back, like the Mohawk, the Gumby, the blowout, the burst fade or “South of France” – they call it The Usher. I like it. It makes you more creative as a barber – if everyone came in for a Dark Caesar, or a Shape-Up, you’d end up getting bored. I like to be inventive and creative.
What’s the craziest hairstyle you’ve given someone?
I once gave someone a whirlwind. That took me like an hour and a half, since I had to go all around the head. And then you fill it out, like the wind is blowing. It was the client’s idea. I was thinking to myself, can you pay me for my time? I usually charge by the haircut, not by time. It depends, of course – but if I’m scheduled to take 45 minutes and it ends up double that, I’d want to say double for my trouble.
What’s your specialty haircut, the one you like to do the most?
My Shape-Ups are on point! My lines are on point. I don’t care if you come in here with a crooked line or a lopsided line, I could bring you back – from the dead. I specialize in bringing people back. I’ll bring some life into you!
Have you done cuts on any celebrities?
Some professional footballers, basketball players and baseball players – even with them, it’s mostly through referrals.
Check out Barber Spice on Instagram