Welcome back to dapperQ’s ongoing queer barber and hair stylist interview series: Queer Cuts. This week we’re celebrating Felicia Tolbert (aka AbSoLuT StYLeZz), a 26 year old Brooklyn-based hairstylist.
dapperQ: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your salon/shop.
AbSoLuT StYLeZz: I am a hairstylist/barber and have been doing hair since I was 13. I remember being in elementary school learning how to braid my friends’ hair and always being fascinated about how neat braids looked people. The summer before my freshman year of high school, my mother told me she wasn’t going to be doing my hair anymore. So, I had to step up and do something! Every weekend I was in the bathroom braiding my hair in different designs. I truly put my creativity to the test, and I also realized how much of a neat freak I am. Whenever my hair looked fuzzy, I had to braid it over.
All of the practice and constant parting and braiding started to pay off by the second semester. My parts were cleaner and my braids neater. The guys in school, who had long hair, would begin to ask me to braid their hair. And that, my friend, is how I began my hustle. I began charging $20 a head. I went from doing friends hair to having a business on Craigslist, which was pretty successful throughout my last years in high school and beginning of college.
I took interest in haircutting during my college years. College did not work out for me. I saw it as a sign to take control of my life and do what made me happy. I told my mom it was time, and I want to go to cosmetology school. September 2009, my mother surprised me by taking me to Empire Beauty School. I started the course in October and I finished May 2010. I was one of the top students of my class and I learned soo much about hair. I realized the level of my creativity to the point I won class competitions! It was an amazing journey. After school, I went on to take my written and practical exams, passing both. I was officially a cosmetologist as of February 2011.
From there, I started my journey at Supercuts in the city. Later, to Levels Barbershop, where I learned many barbering techniques and the usage of different tools. Finally, at my HOME, G STAR THE SALON! It’s sooooo dope to work with my mentor, G Star! She is the one who pushed me to go to cosmetology school to be able to do hair professionally. And, she always promised to have a chair for me when she opened her salon. Sure enough when she got her place, I was the first person she called to have me work side by side with her.
I’m always a student of my craft, striving to be better in all areas of what I specialize in: haircutting, braiding, eyebrow shaping and designs, color, lock re-twist, etc.
I currently work at GSTAR THE SALON in the Crown heights area at 977 East New York Avenue Brooklyn, New York. I am the one and only barber in the salon and I work with seven other amazing hairstylist/celebrity stylist. Any service you can think of, anyone in the salon can take care of your needs. It is truly the definition of one stop shop!
dapperQ: Queer fashion sites like dapperQ and Qwear are often asked, “What is queer style?” Does it exist? And, if so, what sets queer style apart from other aesthetics? Along the same lines, many of our readers ask us about queer hair styles (e.g. is there such a thing and where are the best places to get one). Do you believe that “queer hair styles” are a discernible aesthetic? If so, what makes them unique?
AbSoLuT StYLeZz: I honestly don’t believe there is a “queer style.” I feel like everyone dress the way he/she see fit for themselves. From the haircuts to the clothes, heterosexuals and homosexuals dress alike and get the same haircuts. I believe people generally need to put a label on everything. When an aggressive female puts on a suit and tie with the combover fade, it is automatically labeled as “queer style” and it doesn’t have to be categorized as such and it doesn’t make that person “queer,” either, because she could be heterosexual! When I get dressed day to day, it’s really based on my mood and the weather. I love nice clothes! I love the masculine look on myself. Sometimes I wear sweatsuits, and there are times I want to wear a suit. I have a hard/soft type of style depending on the day. Therefore, I wouldn’t categorize it.
I am a hairstylist, so my hair is always in different style[zz]. Right now, I have my back and sides at a clean fade and the top, a “man bun,” which is weaved. Some may criticize because I am an aggressive wearing a weave. But again, those labels can really stop a person from being comfortable in their own skin…it didn’t stop me.
dapperQ: What are some trends you are seeing in queer and/or masculine cuts?
AbSoLuT StYLeZz: The most popular cuts are the combover fade with side part, and the south of France (Usher Cut), mohawks, or just the basic Caesar, fade, or tapeup.
dapperQ: How do you understand and approach your clientele different from the ways a classic Barbershop/salon does?
AbSoLuT StYLeZz: I welcome all ethnicities, men, women, and children! Hair is hair! As far as from the door, I’m not the money hungry type. So, like I’ve experienced at barbershops, I have to hustle to get the client from the door before the other barbers get to them. I think that is tacky and unprofessional coming from a salon setting where I didn’t have to hustle clients from the door. All I had to do was show up, clock in and wait my turn for a client to receive a service.
Once you’re in the chair, I always ask what they are looking for, and I give them exactly what they pictured or even better. This is what I LOVE to do, and it shows in the finished product! I service my clients the way I would like if I was in the chair. I want you to feel even better about yourself when you leave than when you came in. As a master stylist that is my job, to make you feel like you What are your rates?
dapperQ: What are your rates?
AbSoLuT StYLeZz: You can def check out my rates at:
FB: ABSO STYLEZZ
And, don’t forget to like my page as well, because you belong on the red carpet!