LA-based barber and BaBylissPRO International Educator Sofie “StayGold” Pok (@staygold31) travels the country teaching her signature clipper cutting techniques. Techniques that have earned her many awards and have made her the go-to barber for celebrities including Usher, Post Malone, Nas, and James Charles. She’s also one of the co-creators the STMNT grooming collection, a five-piece line sold at various online and in-store retailers. Sofie is also a professional videographer and photographer. She showcases her skills as a barber and content creator on Instagram where she has earned over 400k followers.
SC: What have been some of the big challenges you’ve faced as a female barber?
Sofie Pok: Building a clientele, gaining respect from other barbers/co-workers, getting certain positions within the shop, finding the right shop environment to work in. It is said you need to have “thick skin” to work in a barbershop.
SC: When doing research for this article, I came across a lot of “Can I trust a female barber?” What is your immediate response to reading that?
SP: It’s an old mindset that’s changing fast. Female barbers have existed for a long time, but when you don’t see it often on TV, social media, or in actual barbershops, it gives this false stereotype that a woman can’t do the job as well as a man.
Once social media started growing, barbershops became a trending topic and people could actually have a look into its culture. Women started to pop up and showcase their talent and skills and after being in the field for the last 11 years. Now, it’s not as shocking to see women execute beautiful work alongside the majority of men.
SC: True or false: You’ve had to work twice as hard to be perceived half as good as your male counterparts. If so, in what ways?
SP: This is a fact. If I'm average or don’t have an edge, I would easily get overlooked in the shop and in the industry. It happened for at least the first half of my career. It's also the conversation that's always being repeated: ‘Dang, she’s pretty good for a girl, ‘ as if it was like seeing a unicorn. It was more surprising to a lot of people, than it was a normal thing. But if you become exceptional, if you win awards, if you grow your following, it’s a stamp of approval that you are “worthy” to the masses. At that point, you get some attention and spotlight, then people realize oh sh*t, you are as good as any barber. Crazy world we live in.
SC: In what ways are you trying to eliminate gender stereotypes within the barbering industry?
SP: I believe in leading by example. If I can simply push boundaries beyond what I’ve seen and try to do my absolute best, maybe that can inspire the next generation of barbers. Barbering can be done by anyone who’s committed to the journey and how far it can take you.
SC: Hopefully in the future when you get interviewed, you will not be asked any questions relating to gender within your field. What can other barbers, salon/barbershop owners, and stylists do now to be allies, help break down gender barriers and create a more level playing field in barbering today?
SP: It would mean a great deal in shops if coworkers and bosses could fully support their female barbers in awkward situations. I’ll never forget almost three instances that my guys didn't stand up for me in those moments of getting judged by clients. I hope no one has to feel that way in their workspace. It's one thing if you failed at someone's haircut and they complain, but for them to look at you and guess that you simply can’t do what they walked in for is discouraging. It's the support system in every shop that’s truly going to change the narrative that people will have.
SC: How are you going to change the industry for up-and-coming female barbers?
SP: To continue sharing my story. Keep pushing for new goals and have more conversations around this topic and normalize it. One of my future plans I have is to host some events centered around female barbers.
SC: Are there any up-and-coming/next generation female barbers that are on your radar that we should know about?
SP: Yes, there’s a group of some amazing and talented women. Here are some IG pages to check out: @nicolerenae , @theoriginalbarberdoll , @allison_cuts , @assyria_gindo , and @dgcuts are just a few off the top of my head.
SC: What has been your proudest moment as a barber?
SP: There are two moments in particular: One, being part of making a five-year edition barbering program for Pivot Point, a company I learned from. Total full circle moment. Second, winning the Barbercon Barber of the Year, purely for the fact it didn't mention male or female.
SC: What are you most proud of about yourself outside of your profession?
SP: A very important one is my ability to think. Our minds are so powerful. It's truly what helps us move to places we’ve only dreamed of. I took an interest in self-development early on after graduating high school and it’s been a non-stop journey of learning new habits and unlearning bad ones. It’s what’s kept me here with an optimistic view of life and being fully grounded in life.
SC: What’s your signature barbering technique?
SP: I don't know if I created it, but I don’t remember seeing anyone do this. When doing a fade, I try to break it down easy to explain it to someone and I leave this weird thin line of hair. It’s a way to separate the foil shaver line from the blend. This hard line prevents the foil line crossing so far into the blend it could mess up the flow. I don’t claim it, but it made sense to me when I stumbled upon it.