Mystros Barber Academy opened its Missouri City location at 2420 Cartwright Road, Missouri City, on Jan. 24 with a cohort of six students who are set to graduate in August. A month later, Community Impact sat down with Steven Ferrell, master barber and instructor for the location, to discuss Mystros Barber Academy, the difference between barbering and cosmetology, and what it takes to own one’s own business.

“This is one of the only trades where, once you get your license, you own your own business,” he said. “We’re preparing them to go forward and lead their own charge.”

Ferrell has been barbering since July of 1997, he said, and what got him into the business is the same as many of his students — money and independence.

“You know, it’s a funny story. I used to cut my own hair back in the day, and I was friends with a girl doing cosmetology,” he said. “She told me, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good at that hair thing.’”

Ferrell shrugged off the compliment until he visited a friend in the Dallas metroplex.

“I was visiting a friend, and I was waiting for him to get his haircut done,” he said. “I watched the barber turn away all these people trying to get in, and when he was done, he pulled out this thick wad of cash, and when I asked him about it he told me, ‘That’s what I made today.’”

Since then, Ferrell said he was hooked, and 1,500 practice hours later he held his own barbering license.

Important lessons

Aside from the basics—which Ferrell adamantly stressed the importance of—Mystros teaches students what it takes to run a successful business.

“Unfortunately, our industry is known for poor service,” he said. “Double booking, dropping clients, missing scheduled appointments.”

Strong, consistent customer service is just as important as delivering a good haircut, Ferrell said.

“Why do you expect people to drive past all these barber shops on every corner and stop by yours?” he said. “It’s not enough just to give a good haircut.”

What many barbers run into is a lack of patience, Ferrell said.

“It takes a lot of patience,” he said. “You’ve got to build a clientele, and you want to make sure they’re a good customer base. Do you want the guy that comes in once a year, or the businessman who’s got an appearance to maintain, who’s going to be in that chair regularly?”

Both customer groups are important to serve, he said, but only the latter will ensure a strong business base.

While Ferrell no longer practices—“The chair’s a young man’s game,” he said—he is currently the sole teacher at Mystros Missouri City location and a friend of the academy’s owner, Eros Shaw. Under his current license, Ferrell can teach up to 25 students before needing to hire additional teachers.

The principal academy in Houston opened in 2012 at 1434 Cypress Creek Parkway.