Student View

Neijae Graham-Henries using clippers to cut hair

YOUR WORLD

I’m the Youngest Female Barber

And I’ve learned what it takes to set a goal and reach it!

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? I figured it out last year, when I was 7. I wanted to be a barber—a person who cuts and styles hair (mostly men’s hair).

It all started when my brother went to check out a junior barbering class near my home in Philadelphia. He decided not to take the class, but it sounded cool to me. I thought maybe I’d want to own a barbershop one day.

So I signed up for the six-week course. My mom warned me that I might be the only girl in the class, but I didn’t care.

Becoming a Barber

My mom was right—the other kids in the class were all boys. I was also the youngest kid. The other students towered over me. Some of them were as old as 17!

In the class, I learned how to use clippers to trim hair. We would practice the techniques we learned on real people.

My first haircut was for a kid my age named Race. I was so nervous, my hands shook the whole time. But my instructor guided me through it. It turned out okay! Now I’m more confident and can keep my hands steady. I’ve also learned how to use the special sharp scissors for hair called shears.

My instructor taught me that to be an excellent barber you need to be patient and serious. If I don’t focus, I might cut someone with those sharp tools.

Practicing My Skills

I graduated from my class when I was 7. People say that made me the youngest female barber in the world! Sometimes my clients are surprised by how young I am. But I tell them that just because I’m young doesn’t mean I shouldn’t start learning skills for my future. That makes them silent.

Since graduating, I’ve given more than 50 haircuts. An instructor is always with me in case I need help. I’ve given free haircuts to people who are homeless. Having a good haircut makes people feel better about themselves. I like using my talents to help people feel good.

I get extra practice by cutting the hair of mannequins. I cut my family’s hair too. One of my most memorable haircuts was for my grandpa. He has thick hair with a nice, wavy texture. He seemed nervous at first. But after I finished, he said, “You did a great job.” I’d like to give my brother a haircut, but he doesn’t want me to. Convincing him is my next big goal! 

Make it happen!

Follow Neijae’s steps to achieving big goals.

  1. Write down your goals and stick them on your wall. Read them every day to remind yourself of what you want.
  2. Keep at it. Tell yourself in your head and in the mirror “Just keep going, even when things get hard.”
  3. Don’t be ashamed if you make a mistake. We can’t expect everything to turn out perfect.
Continue the Learning Journey

In the story you just read, Neijae Graham-Henries describes how she became the world’s youngest female barber. How did someone in your life get their job? Make a list of at least five questions you would like to ask that person. Then interview them! Here are some questions to get you started: 

 

  • Why did you choose your job?
  • What skills do you use in your role?
  • What is the most fun or challenging part of your job? 

Neijae set a goal for herself and worked hard to learn the skills she needed to become a barber. What is a goal you want to achieve? Set a goal and make a dream board for it! A dream board is a collage of images and words representing a person's wishes or goals. You can include inspirational words, images, photos, drawings, or other symbols. When you’re done, hang your dream board on a wall you look at often. Remember, you can do anything you set your mind to!

Barbershops and other small businesses usually have signs or displays in their windows to attract customers. Make an eye-catching poster or display to call attention to Neijae’s future barbershop. Be sure to include the name of her business, reasons why people should visit, fun phrases, appealing colors, and drawings or symbols! Then share your work with a family member or friend. Would it convince them to go inside the shop? 

This article was written by Neijae Graham-Henries, as told to Talia Cowen for Storyworks Jr. magazine.

Image Credits: Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS/Newscom (header); Taylor Baldwin/Mama Photography (Neijae)