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LARSON: Barber school offers cuts to help economy

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

Job cuts. Budget cuts. Tax cuts. Good cuts? Bad cuts? It's all pretty confusing to me, but I do know that Phil Rivers offers cuts that can benefit everyone.

In the wake of a bad economy, Rivers opened Phil's Barber and Style School in Lilburn, the only barber school in Gwinnett County. With 25 years of experience, Rivers is using her expertise to help people who've lost their jobs cut out a new career.

Gwinnett County has several cosmetology schools, but Rivers notes there's a big difference between the two professions.

"Cosmetology focuses about 80 percent on chemical treatments and styling, but with barbering, 80 percent is about the cut. Most of the other 20 percent of deals with professional shaves and facials," Rivers said.

"A barber must know 14 different strokes to give a professional shave. A good shave takes about 30 to 45 minutes with steam towels and hot lather."

She (yes, she -- Phil is short for Philamenia) also noted that professional shaves are becoming a popular way for men to pamper themselves. Trendy Buckhead shops charge $55 or more for a shave, but at Phil's, men can enjoy that luxury for a mere $5.

I can't give a personal testimony about the shaves, but Phil did use my face to demonstrate to her students how to do a scientific rest facial. She nearly put me to sleep while massaging my zygomaticus and my temporalis. (Yes, she means it when she says it's scientific.)

Her students come from all walks of life and for different reasons. David Carter, a barber for 18 years, is learning to be an instructor. Alex Kimble enrolled to refresh his skills. "I graduated from barber college in 2003 and then went into another career. Due to the recession, I'm back."

Jose Garcia graduated from Faith Christian Academy in Buford last December.

"This is a really good applied learning environment and everything I learn, I know I'm going to use."

Rivers would love to attract more young people. In fact, students only need to be 16 years old to enroll, but drop-outs need not apply. She is a stickler for good grades in both school environments.

"They have to show me they're doing their homework and keeping up with their school work," she said.

"For me, this is like teaching a man to fish and feeding him for a lifetime. If young people get barbering under their belt, they can earn money while going to college or stay in barbering all their life. You can cut hair when you're 99 years old."

And the job market for licensed barbers will always be wide-open from corner barbershops to cruise ships.

"I have people calling me every day wanting to know when my next barber will graduate. Anyone leaving here will be sought after 100 percent."

If you'd like to explore some cuts that might help your budget, visit www.philsbarbercollege.com or call 770-925-0021.

Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at susanlarson4@yahoo.com.