We had the good fortune of connecting with Clara Rios and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Clara, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Barbershops, just as a concept, are important for any community in the world, and by virtue of that, they are important for the world at large. They’re one of the few communal “hubs” where people from all different walks of life, with different perspectives and experiences, can come together and have a conversation with each other; in-person and without distraction or fear.
As the world gets more and more individualistic, I think people are losing sight of the part they play within the overall community. Obviously, each customer is there for a reason; to get their hair cut, but just by being there, they’re connecting with other people in a way they wouldn’t find almost anywhere else.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was happenstance. One day, I had to cut my son’s hair because he didn’t want his dad to cut his hair, and he didn’t want to go to a barber either. Then, his grandmother called me after seeing his haircut and told me I should become a barber. I figured getting a barbering license would be an extra way to make some money, so I tried it. And now, eleven years later, I’m here, running my own barbershop in Downtown L.A.
Life takes you in many directions, and gives you a lot of hints, and your job is to navigate those different paths, and take note of what goes wrong and what goes right. I’d worked a lot of jobs before; answering calls at a phone company, real estate lending, to name a few. Then the crash of ’08 hit, I got laid off, lost my house, and I had to pick a path. I didn’t want to work for anyone anymore, so I bit down on barbering and never let go.
Along the way, one of the things you learn is that tenacity really does pay off. No one knows how long it takes to do so, but eventually, if you put in your blood, sweat, and tears, you’ll see the fruits of your labor. What I want now is for others to realize that fact, especially my fellow Latinos. As a whole, we’ve been on a downward trend and generally pessimistic about breaking out of the ‘cycle’, but with my story and my business, I hope to do my part in changing that, and uniting the Latino community under one banner; the banner of progress.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
So many places… probably the first place we’ll go is to Olvera Street or El Mercadito to experience a little Mexican Culture. After that, I mean we could go to El Mercadito, La Cita, the Death & Company Speakeasy. Other places are the House of Machines, if you like motorcycles, and a restaurant named Clutch in Venice owned by my buddy Oscar, who also rides motorcycles. Then there are the obvious places like the Natural History Museum, the Getty, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. And last, but not least, the beautiful hiking trails that we have like the Griffith Observatory, Runyon, Topanga trails.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My son’s grandfather; he’s been there since I first started the business, teaching me the ins and outs of tools, construction, finance, and business. We worked together to build, personally, half the things in the barbershop itself and whenever I hit a roadblock in running my business, he’s the first person I come to for advice. He’s been through a lot in his life, and done a lot of different things, so he’s a gold mine of information, technique, and patience.
Yelp: Barbers On Broadway