INTERVIEW WITH CELEBRITY BARBER DARRL ROBERT JR.
Humble, creative and skilled. These three words best describe celebrity barber Darrl Robert Jr., who in his five years as a professional barber has accomplished what some would consider a full body of career work –but he’s just scratching the surface.
Known as “The Hairbender” Darrl is changing the barbering game and pulling personality out of the heads he comes into contact with- many of those being household names from NFL greats to entertainment sensations. The true point of differentiation for Darrl, however, isn’t his long list of celebrity clients but is instead the artwork itself.
Meet the man behind the details, fades and designs:
How did you break into barbering?
I broke into barbering out of circumstance. Despite coming from a family of barbers and cosmetologists, including two of the closest people to me: my grandmother and baby sister Brittany, it wasn’t until 2009 that I made the shift into my current profession. After working four jobs in 12 months- from being a scaffold builder to a garbage man- my brother Wade almost literally smacked the sense into me and encouraged me to start taking cutting hair seriously. From that moment on, I began honing my gift again and went to barbering school at night. I graduated, became licensed and haven’t looked back once. It was the wisest decision of my life to take my art and make it my profession.
Now you refer to yourself as “Not a Barber” but a hairbender- where does that come from?
I call myself a hairbender instead of a barber because I infuse a lot of artwork into my skill set. I'm a creator. I love to add designs in my haircuts and help people bend their boundaries past traditional looks.The extra flare gets my clients a lot of attention. I have this unorthodox way of getting hair to do what I want- so I always say it BENDS for me.
Where do you draw your greatest sources of inspiration?
I’m inspired by inspiring. My family and friends have been a big part of my journey. It’s them, clients and complete strangers that I gain inspiration from with their encouragement and confidence. I’ve had people tell me that my work or my story encouraged them to open up their own shop or enroll in barbering/ cosmetology school- THAT is inspiring. How can you stop when you see the impact of your influence? My work inspired my sister to attend Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School and she graduated as valedictorian- that’s huge and so fulfilling for me.
What is the piece of hair artistry that you are most proud of?
I'm most proud of the Ankh piece that I did on my client Lynerica in her lower nape area It was totally original & everyone loved it! It also went viral on social media. That was hair artistry at its finest.
Tell us about your coolest barbering experience.
Essence 2016 I worked with so many celebrities and made so many connections within the industry. I still see how that experience has kept my name circulating in coveted industries like sports and entertainment. I was requested by Russell Wilson, Super Bowl Champion Quarterback and tasked with changing his look. I aced it. He shared it on his snap chat and I picked up almost 3,000 more followers in two days. Just when I walked out, his lovely wife Ciera walked in and gave the look high praise. That was the official mark of a job well done.
What is the current landscape of the Barbering scene in New Orleans.
The current landscape of barbering in New Orleans is bright right now. There are more opportunities here now than ever before with all of the festivals, movie productions, and by the city being a tourist attraction just in general. There are also a lot of great barbers emerging on the scene, young and old. I like seeing the field progress and advance alongside the city.
If you could cut anyone’s hair who would it be?
If I could cut anyone's hair, it would be Jay-Z. He's my favorite rapper. I relate to him on so many levels personally and professionally. I would take the opportunity to pick his brain. Thirty minutes in the chair is equivalent to about 20 years of knowledge wrapped in a nutshell. What he did in his field of work; I’m going to do in mine. Hey, we have a mutual friend- so we will see!