Hearken ye back to the 14th century. There were Masters in their craft who spent a lifetime learning skills (think Michelangelo) and Apprentices (think…everyone who helped Michelangelo). In the middle lies the Journeyman. It sounds like someone who ventures out each day, journeying D & D quest style to a job. That’s kind of what it is, minus the dragons. A Journeyman has been educated in a skill set, trained, supervised, examined, and given the authority to work by himself.
J. Clark Walker, Journeyman Barber, has brought the centuries old concept back into the limelight and updated it for the 21st century. Educated in Utah and faced with a choice of staying put and potentially stagnating or relocating his family to NYC, the call to work with the industry’s most revered was a no-brainer. The reason: education.
Before he, his wife, and his amazing son bounced, J. Clark saw that Fellow Barber in NYC was hiring. It was his dream shop, and he sent them a message to keep a heads up for him when he moved. This was the key. At the time, he had been using Instagram as a portfolio. Fellow Barber liked what they saw and a dialogue through emails and phone calls was started. It took a while but eventually when they moved and got settled, he walked in the shop and said ‘hi.’
THE POWER OF INSTAGRAM
Fellow Barber had seen J. Clark’s work through Instagram so it was not a cold interview; they were on familiar ground and it went a long way to landing him a coveted spot in the shop. Connection to the global community of hairdressers is more powerful than we think. Because of his following, he has been invited to teach-ins to share knowledge of the craft with other barbers. He uses Instagram to promote connections with his guests and whatever they are celebrating in their lives.
REACTION TO INSTAGRAM
Instagram is a powerful tool, Walker acknowledges. He can follow killer barbers and hairstylists online. He can cultivate content that will appeal to his type of guest: easy, relatable and wearable styles for gentlemen that don’t require a ton of product to look sick. When he first downloaded the app, he thought it was just a filter app for photos and it took a moment to understand how to share his work.
There is a formula for success on Instagram. Followers equal opportunities like sponsors and education. Here is where it gets refreshing: he doesn’t use a lot of the strategies like popular hashtags or services that auto-like. He knows these things exist but he prefers real people finding him for his talent. He doesn’t find that perfect spot with the clean background that is lit and styled perfectly. He takes a shot of his work and lets it speak for his authentic self. In a world of Diva ring lights and bot followers, his opinion is a breath of fresh air. Not driving that ship at light speed might mean missed opportunities but with work and home already drawing Clark’s attention, the time is already booked with awesome family adventures and killer haircuts.
WORK \ LIFE BALANCE
That family he moved across the country? They added another human. Being 100% about the work at work and being 100% about family when not at work is difficult. J. Clark knows he is lucky because his wife has a Cos license and understands how much energy goes into that lifestyle. He combats the 24/7 connectivity by using his commute time to work on his Instagram and puts the phone down when at home. He keeps a commitment to his work schedule. When he is at work, it’s work time. With a post-toddler and an infant at home, he leaves when his shift is over. That gets mad respect in our world;it is very hard to turn down a service or not work nights and weekends when the shop is the busiest because family comes first. In NYC the people surrounding him are very Type A and driven and it does rub off but Walker says restraint is needed in this phase of life.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE BRING?
J. Clark Walker would both love to open his own shop eventually as well as not have interest in thinking about that currently. Right now he is a Journeyman, learning from his Fellow Barbers every day. With regards to future trends, he sees short men’s cuts that are practical and wearable. Less severe fades with less heavy pomade-y products to style; softer, touchable hair with good structure.