Alex Ruiz is a barber at Harry’s Cornershop on MacDougal Street in New York City. On Friday, February 23 she started her day at 9:30 a.m.
Each appointment begins with a consultation. Some clients bring in photos; others stick to what Alex has done before and request the usual. Alex chats with her regular clients and lets them know that in two weeks she will be moving to another barbershop down the street since Harry’s is closing its doors.
This summer will mark 20 years that Alex has been a barber. She completed the required 500 hours of training at the Atlas Barber School and started working at her uncle’s chain of barbershops.
Alex has lots of regular clients and remembers different details about their life: their astrological signs and birthdays, stories of how their parents met. “I’m part barber, part therapist,” she said and continued, “I hear about everything: wives, girlfriends, medical problems, everything.”
Between appointments, Alex drinks strawberry milk, the only ‘girly’ colored item in her arsenal. Alex has had experiences with sexist clients and said, “Some guys don’t think I can cut beards because I don’t have one, but I like beards on guys, I’ve seen a lot of them, plus you know, this is my job. I know what I’m doing.”
Alex is open about having worked at a shop where she was sexually harassed by the owner and his son. She’s happy that the number of female barbers is on the rise since when she started, there was only a handful.
After lunch, Alex reapplies her lipstick in the barber chair. She and Angle, who mans the front desk joke about her extensive makeup routine. She blowdries her lipstick before her next client walks in.
Alex was born in Queens and lives in the Bronx with her 17-year-old son. She dreams of living somewhere with a backyard where she could enjoy a glass of wine. She is thinking about moving back to Queens or Flushing after her son graduates high school.