On Tuesday, October 16th, Kevin Nguyen (@yakuzabarber) got the surprise of his life when Wahl Education and Artistic Team (W.E.A.T.) member Rick Morin arrived at his barbershop to announce that he’d won the 2018 Wahl Online Barber Battle.
“Rick had asked me for a haircut, and when he came in for his appointment I saw his head was already bald, so I was a bit confused,” laughs Nguyen, an educator at the California Barber and Beauty College in San Diego.
In addition to receiving the full 5-Star line of clippers and trimmers from Wahl Professional, as Grand Prize winner, Nguyen will have an honorary one-year term as a Wahl Education and Artistic Team (W.E.A.T.) member. “I have always been in the barber battle scene, but the Wahl Online Barber battle is more about education which I feel like is an amazing switch up from your average battles," says Nguyen.
“Prior to Wahl starting this last year, an online battle had not been done by any other clipper company,” says Aaron Flick, senior marketing associate, Professional Division, Wahl Clipper Corporation. “This year’s entries were incredibly impressive – there are a lot of talented artists out there – and Wahl is proud to bring such talented artists from across the country into one competition.”
“Kevin will receive opportunities that are usually reserved for permanent members of the team,” explains Laura VanderMoere, global director of education for Wahl Professional. “This is a unique opportunity that allows the winner to represent Wahl as an industry influencer and role model at major shows and more.”
Second-place winner Jose Montejano (@cant_be_faded) received three Wahl clippers and three Wahl trimmers, while third-place Stanley “Spodie” Holsey (@spodiemasterbarber) won the 5-Star Barber Combo from Wahl Professional. The accomplishments of Montejano and Holsey were announced on Wahl Professional’s social media channels and Ambassador Program. Short vignettes from their submission videos accompanied the announcements to let viewers see the creative and talented work they produced. The winners’ videos can be seen at wahlbarberbattle.com.
Nguyen, Montejano and Holsey all preferred the creative cut challenge. “I was most excited about the creative cut because each time I create a design for my client it is unique because I never do the same design twice,” says Holsey. “I love seeing my imagination come to life on someone’s head.”
Judges used an in-depth scoring system, awarding points on criteria including styling techniques, precision of blend, difficulty of the cut, and the overall look. Significant consideration was given when determining how online submissions should be scored. “Barber battles are about harnessing skill and creativity. I wanted to make sure the judging system accounted for all the little aspects, but also reflected the spirit of a live barber battle,” says Morin.
What can future entrants learn from those who have already done it? “My advice would be to choose your models wisely and to get out of your comfort zone,” advises Nguyen. Montejano stresses getting out of your comfort zone as well. “Don’t hold back anything and let your skills and creativity shine,” he says. Holsey takes a big-picture look. “You must understand the competition is much more than being a good barber and displaying your skills. Do your homework, study, never give up, never back down from a challenge, and take advantage of all opportunities to display your craft,” he recommends.
Artists who want their chance to compete for the ultimate barber bragging rights are encouraged to register for the Wahl Ambassador Program at wahlpro.com, as details for the next competition are expected to be released early in 2019.