Josh Velazquez knew he wanted to be a barber before he graduated high school, but it would take him nearly two decades to make that dream a reality. Now, the master barber and Baxter of California educator is the owner of his very own barbershop, Prohibition Barber Co., and it’s the ultimate one-stop shop for all your men’s grooming needs. If you’re searching for an amazing barber to give you a killer haircut, continue reading to find out why Velazquez is the only barber you should let near your hair.
Velazquez may be known as a master barber and educator now, but he didn’t get his start at some prestigious barbering school. He first discovered his love of cutting hair after getting into a bit of trouble at school.
“I was a graffiti artist back in high school, and one day, I got caught, and I got in trouble, and I got punished for about a month. I didn't like that...I had the creativity flowing and was always into art,” he explains. “I was watching my friends cut hair, and I realized I could use that creativity to something positive and actually make someone feel amazing about themselves. So I pretty much fell in love with that.”
The budding barber quickly realized a fresh haircut could do more than change the way a person looks; it could help to change how they feel about themselves.
“I remember watching my friends get their haircut after a long day of school, and when they got out of that chair, they felt like a totally different person,” he says. “The sense of confidence was everything to me because through a haircut you receive a lot of confidence—if the haircut’s done right, of course.”
With prices as low as five dollars a cut, it didn’t take long for Velazquez to build up a loyal clientele, and he could expect his parents’ back porch to be filled with friends and family looking for a fresh trim on just about any day of the week. After finding a career path he was passionate about, there was no doubt in Velazquez’s mind that barbering is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. However, a few years into his career as a self-taught barber, Velazquez welcomed a baby boy, and the young father decided to put his barbering dreams on hold to more easily provide for his family.
After more than a decade working in corporate America, Velazquez couldn’t ignore his true passion any longer. The then 31-year-old father of two quit his full-time job and enrolled in barber school. With more than two decades of self-taught knowledge under his belt, it didn’t take long for his talent to be noticed. After obtaining his license, Velazquez began working as the head of the barbering department at one of the most well-known salons in Chicago.
There, he was introduced to someone on the Baxter of California team. and he became one of the first 13 educators for the brand. The rest is, as they say, history!
From his parents’ back porch to one of the most prestigious salons in Chicago, Velazquez has worked just about everywhere. So when it came time to open his own Prohibition Barber Co., he knew exactly the vibe he was going for.
“I love the 1920s; I just love the aesthetic. I love the fashion of the 1920s. I love going to New York because of the old buildings. I love that stuff, you know. I love wood. I love leather. I love whiskey. And so those are things that I had to build into my shop.”
The aesthetic was important to Velazquez, but not nearly as important as the experience he clients have.
“I’ve always had a desire to create a barbershop that's kind of private. One that my client could come in and I could close the door, and it's just me him and maybe like a couple more people in the shop. There's not a lot of noise, the only noise that's happening is the music or us talking and us having fellowship.”
As one of the original educators for Baxter of California, it should come as no surprise which products line the shelves at Velazquez’s shop.
“Someone from Baxter came up to me and asked me if I wanted to be an educator. At that point, I was freshly out of school, and I didn’t know what that consisted of,” He says. “Our old director was like, ‘Well, you'd be traveling to different salons, educating them about like men's grooming, and since you're licensed barber, possibly cutting hair and showing them different tips and tricks.’”
While Prohibition Barber Co. is fully stocked with every product Baxter of California has to offer, Velazquez has a few favorite products he uses all of the time.
“I'm a really big fan of the Grooming Cream. Our Grooming Cream is very light in its hold. But my number one pomade is Clay Pomade,” the barber says. “It's a little harder to use, but what's great about it is I can style my hair at like seven o'clock in the morning, and I'll still have hold throughout the whole day.”
While we trust product recommendations from all of our professionals, Velazquez’s recommendations hold a little more weight because he doesn’t just use the products; he actually helps the brand development them.
“The thickening hair gel that just came out, I kind of dabbled in it as far as creating that product with the team. I had maybe four or five samples, and I was like, ‘Okay, this is good, it's not good,’ and we came to a decision on what's best,” he explains.
What the barber loves about the brand most, however, is that they’re much more than just a hair care brand.
“Baxter is a full lifestyle brand. They have hair care, skincare, body care, shaving products. They’re like a one-stop shop for a guy and all the products are super clean. They smell amazing.”
Prohibition Barber Co. offers the same haircut, towel shave, and beard trimming services you can find at most barber shops, but don’t be fooled. You may have had a haircut before, but you’ve never had a haircut at Prohibition Barber Co.
“What kind of sets me apart from a lot of barbershops is that I don't rush through my haircut. I do 45-minute appointments to do a haircut. And that's just a haircut and style,” Velazquez says. “If they want a beard trim, I add an extra 15 minutes to a half hour so I have ample time to do a full haircut, style the haircut, refine anything I need to refine, and actually have enough time to really give my client that customer service, making them feel good.”
A haircut at Prohibition Barber Co. will run you $60 and take about an hour of your time, but don’t worry—Velazquez will make it well worth your time and money. In addition to the private quarters, soothing music, and a killer haircut, expect a glass of whiskey and maybe a cigar on the house.
“My biggest thing is I just want my clients to walk in and to leave all of their stress outside of the door,” Velazquez says. “When he walks in, it's kind of like a refresh, a restart to his to the rest of his day.”