05 Jun Institute Insider: Alumni Spotlight – Twis the Barber
On this episode of Institute Insider, we spotlight barber alumni Christopher “Twis” Taylor. Twis graduated from The Institute of Beauty and Wellness in April 2020. Though newly licensed, Twis is not new to hard work. Twis’s barbering journey started while attending UW-Oshkosh to pursue a degree in marketing. There, during his free time, he would cut hair. He decided to turn his hobby into a career and enrolled in our barbering program last spring while still studying at UW-Oshkosh. Twis completed both endeavors back-to-back, and is now working at Fresh Look Barber & Beauty Lounge, using skills from both of his educational pursuits to build his career as a barber. Twis shared the details of his journey with the Institute Insider to inspire others with his story of grit and talent.
Twis’s interest in barbering started while in college. With his commute from home and work in Milwaykee to class in Oshkosh, he was spending a lot of time traveling in his car. He thought he could save some time and gas money by cutting out his trip to the barbershop and cutting his own hair instead. The craft of cutting hair came easily to Twis. People started seeing his work and gravitated toward it. Soon, Twis’ friends started asking him to cut their hair, which eventually led to other people – people Twis did not know personally – asking for him to cut their hair.
“From just cutting my own hair, it branched out to different avenues of people, all over the city where I’m from, and where I went to college,” Twis said. “After that, a couple years, I decided that it was time for me to go to barber school and get my license and do everything the right way.”
Twis’s brother saw his talent and passion for cutting hair and pushed him to get his barbering license. So, Twis set out to find a school. He did some research and ended up booking an admissions tour at The Institute of Beauty and Wellness. During the tour, he liked everything he saw and learned about the program. Ultimately, it was the welcoming presence of the school and admissions team that drew him in.
UW-Oshkosh gave Twis the greenlight to finish his degree online so he could carve out time for barbering school. Twis enrolled in the 3-day barbering program in March 2019. He chose this schedule because it gave him the flexibility to balance online class at UW-Oshkosh and work at his job. Twis made juggling multiple ambitions look easy, but it takes hard work and dedication to keep up with homework from two different programs while working.
“I sacrificed my weekends for over a year, but it was worth it,” Twis said.
At The Institute of Beauty and Wellness, Twis built on the skills that he had already started developing and learned new tools and techniques as well, including cutting with shears. The barbering program at The Institute of Beauty and Wellness teaches the fundamentals of men’s hair design and styling, implement sterilization and sanitation, industry trends and more.
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One of Twis’s favorite parts of school was learning the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of barbering, like bacteriology and the chemistry of hair color. Twis grew close to his classmates and instructors while in school and remains connected to them even after graduating.
Today, Twis rents his own chair at Fresh Look Beauty and Barber Lounge in Milwaukee. Since he rents a chair, he did not receive additional training on the job, but he felt that his prior experience and education gave him the foundation he needed for a smooth transition into the barbershop.
“I think being a student, especially at Aveda, it prepares you to be by yourself in that chair,” Twis said. “When you’re by yourself, you have no help, nobody to really look to. You have nobody to come and fix a haircut if you accidently do something wrong. It just puts you in that role and mindset of being the leader of yourself – being responsible for many different things.”
When asked to give advice to people going to barbering school, Twis said to just go for it.
“Don’t think about it too much; if you can do it, go ahead and do it,” he said.
Twis definitely lives by his own advice. At 24 years old, he has two degrees under his belt and a job. His goal is to open his own barbershop in the near future, and to expand his business into multiple shops. He hopes to retire from haircutting by 35 years old to focus on managing his barbershops. Those are lofty goals, but, if his history of achievements is any indication, he will accomplish all of the things he sets his mind to.
If Twis’s story inspired you to start your own barbering journey, contact our admissions team to learn more about how to get started, or check out our other podcasts to hear more personal stories. Don’t forget to show Twis some love in the comments below!