Interview with Celebrity Barber - Johnny Cake
There’s generally a funny story behind how I come about my interviews and this one is no exception. I’ve wanted to interview some barbers for the blog for quite some time, because barbers are also a very huge and integral part of the beauty/grooming industry. So, I started my barber search in my favorite place (Twitter), and after a few moments I came across a barber with the Twitter name “StayCaked”. For those unfamiliar with the term it means: always getting acquiring or having money…money being the cake.
Thinking to myself, this ought to be interesting I hit the “follow” button. Low and behold what do you know, on the second night of my “StayCaked” stakeout, I discovered that “our barber” still only known at this time as “StayCaked” (I was tweeting from my BlackBerry and hadn’t had the chance to investigate his Twitter page) was on the set of a music video somewhere in New York or New Jersey. Strangely enough celebrity stylist June Ambrose was also on the set of a music video that night. Could it be a coincidence? Possibly, but not likely. Everyone in the industry knows that Jay-Z, Hov, Jigga, Beyonce’s husband whatever you choose to call him is a client of June Ambrose. Was it possible that Jay-Z was also a client of “StayCaked”? It took all night and into very early the next morning to put it together (as I drifted in and out of sleep checking my Twitter on my BlackBerry) that yes they both were on the same video shoot, and yes Jay-Z was the client. There was just one problem with that little discovery though… when was the last time Jay-Z had had a haircut?? I mean the man was on his way to growing locs and if he had gotten a hair cut - why’d he need a barber on set? It wasn’t like his fade was going to grow out between takes. Hmm.
So I sent “StayCaked” a couple of tweets:
From: BeautySchooled To: StayCaked why would Hov need a barber on set of his video unless…
From: BeautySchooled To: StayCaked the haircut’s in the video...
From: StayCaked To: BeautySchooled Very smart!
Just like that, mystery solved! If this beauty thing doesn’t work out I could always become a PI…
Anyways that’s my long winded story as to how I landed my interview with who I later came to now as Johnny Castellanos aka Johnny Cake who’s on his way to being (if he’s not already) the most famous barber in the country. You know there’s Obama’s barber then there’s Jay-Z’s barber. LOL
Johnny Cake may be the exclusive barber for Jay-Z and Pharrell but when he’s not globe-trotting to meet up with either of them, there’s no shortage of celebrities that run through his New Jersey barber shop including Joe Budden, Fabolous, George Wrighster and Charlie Murphy to name just a few… Check the interview as I got Johnny Cake to dish on everything from how he got that name, to what he thinks about women barbers and what it really takes to work with celebrities.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How long have you been cutting hair?
Johnny Cake: I’ve been cutting since I was 15 years old and I’m now 31.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! When did you know you wanted to become a barber?
Johnny Cake: It was funny because my grandfather is a barber and at the time he had a barbershop in NYC, but I started on my own at my friends basement playing around and I liked it. Then I would always cut friends in my bathroom, but never took it seriously until I dropped out of high school. One day at a family BBQ my father asked my grandfather if he could give me a job at his shop... but I of course was nervous to go "public"... lol But it was for the best because he was the one who taught me how to use the scissors and the razor.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! You own a barber shop right? It’s actually called The Shop? Where is it?
Johnny Cake: Yes, The Shop is located in Englewood N.J
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How did you get into cutting celebrities? What was your first big break?
Johnny Cake: My friend Rob a.k.a Stoggie used to work for Roc a Fella Records and through him I had the opportunity to cut Damon Dash and then Jay Z etc…
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Other than being known as Johnny Cake the barber that gets "cake" would you say that you have a niche, or is there anything particular that your clients or industry peers would say you're known for?
Johnny Cake: Besides an excellent barber? I think for being a very ambitious straight up honest, family guy. That and that my clipper Game is Craazzy! Lol
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! What’s a typical working day like for you, if there is such thing as typical for you?
Johnny Cake: Definitely no such thing as a typical day for me. If I'm not at The Shop, I'm at a photo or video shoot, or doing a hou$e run , or out of town meeting up with Pharrell or Jay Z, where ever they may be at the time. So... it varies for me. Though I'm all over the place... I don’t forget to make time for the family.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I was following your tweets from the set of D.O.A. how many hours were you on set?
Johnny Cake: Well anyone that has worked on a video set before knows a video usually takes at least 2 days to film and they're 12 hour days. However, D.O.A was shoot in one long day, we started filming at 10 a.m. and didn't finish until 4:45a.m. the next morning so you do the math!!
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Is it common that you’re called to a set of a music video?
Johnny Cake: Yes, photo and video shoots very common, ask about me !
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! So you’re “that” barber! Nice!! How do you manage to balance it all?
Johnny Cake: I have a system were all my clients know to schedule with me a day before, no matter who it is Pharrell, Jay Z. Hahaa! now you know I'm just kidding excluding them.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! Well of course I'm sure, we all have those clients where we just have to make it happen for. Let’s switch gears for a minute and discuss the industry. I'm sure you know there’s a stigma about barbers and barbershops, what would you say are the biggest misconceptions about the industry and barbers specifically?
Johnny Cake: I would say the reason for some of the misconceptions is that some barbers treat the barber shop game as a hobby and not as the business that it is. They could get really far if they took the game seriously. From the public view point I would say the biggest misconception is that cutting is not a "real job" and that we don’t follow the status-quo; but the reality is it’s just like any other business or job except that we get to have a lot more input into what we do and we get to be creative
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! How do you feel about women barbers, do you feel they are equally embraced in the business?
Johnny Cake: I haven't had the chance to know many female barbers but, I think if they have the skills and the right attitude they would not have a problem making it. In this industry skills and how you approach people go far beyond your racial background and or gender. That’s the beauty of the barbershop game.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! It seems that every up and coming barber wants to work with celebrities. What advice do you have for someone new who is trying to break into the industry and wanting to work with celebrities?
Johnny Cake: Be consistent. The effort and work you put in will get you noticed, but when you're put in front of the plate, you’ve gotta step up, because this business is all about word of mouth!! Take your time and be sharp pay attention to detail. The Celebs will come after…God Willing!
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! So what’s next for you? Are there any projects in the works that you can share with the readers?
Johnny Cake: I'm working on putting together a pilot for a Reality show idea I have right now.
BEAUTYSCHOOLED! I can’t possibly end this interview without asking where you got “Cake” from, how did you get to become Johnny Cake?
Johnny Cake: Dame Dash gave me the nickname Johnny(Cake) I liked the ring to it, so I ran with it.
To learn more about Johnny’s barber shop The Shop click here. To find out what video set Johnny Cake’s on next follow his twitter @staycaked.
Ciao for now… Class is dismissed!