By Jesse Short Bull
Jacob “JB” Briggs is quickly earning a reputation for being one of Santa Fe’s best kept secrets when it comes to fine haircuts. Briggs, a 20-year-old college freshmen and a cinematic arts major at the Institute of American Indian Arts, has seen his haircuts and expertise flourish over the last few years. It all started when he overheard an IAIA housing employee talk about the $25 dollars he was planning on spending on a haircut.
“I can do it for $10 dollars, but I don’t have the tools,” said Briggs confidently.
The housing employee intrigued by Briggs low price, immediately asked how much was needed for the barber tools: “$50 dollars,” responded Briggs.
The employee proposed that he would invest in a pair of clippers and related items in exchange for $10-dollar haircuts. Briggs agreed and he gave the employee his first haircut, that’s how he got his start. Briggs recalls the employee’s reaction to the haircut.
“He liked it, he thought it was better than where he usually gets his haircut.”
Shortly afterwards, the extra income started to roll in and Briggs bought a professional clipper, straight razor and linings to create his most requested haircut style, the fade.
When Briggs was a high school student at Flandreau Indian School in South Dakota, he was offered $2 dollars from a desperate classmate who didn’t seem to mind that Briggs had never touched a pair of clippers. Briggs credits his older brother Darnell Quintana who became a self-taught barber as his first source of inspiration.
“I told myself if he could do it, I could do it,” said Briggs.
He taught himself how to cut hair using tutorials from “Vic the Barber” on YouTube and his own determination. Soon he learned how to line up each cut and shave to achieve the precise flow between bare skin and neatly cropped hair follicles.
At the age of only 19-years-old, he landed a job at Native Stylez, a barber shop just off the main drag in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. This opportunity marked a change for Briggs, who was once an “angry kid” prowling the streets, looking to fight anyone and everyone. The barber shop became a safe place for Briggs.
“I was putting smiles on people’s faces, not welts,” said Briggs.
New Mexico Bound
Briggs talents were in good working order when he traveled to New Mexico to attend IAIA. With the help of his brother, Mike “Witko” Cliff, an IAIA alum and renowned Lakota hip-hop artist, Briggs was prepared with business cards which read “JB Cutthat, Native Styles.” It was almost fate that he crossed paths with the IAIA employee in search of a better deal.
Brigg growing client list ranges from freshmen to upper class-men to staff, and now members of the Santa Fe community. Many are requesting Briggs’ services having heard about him by word of mouth and through social networking on Instagram and Snapchat.
Briggs could charge more for his haircuts, but he sticks with a flat rate of just $10 dollars which bodes well for many college budgets. He knows it’s not all about money.
“I like seeing good results with people, it makes me feel good about myself. This little rez kid from Pine Ridge, South Dakota is making people satisfied and with a smile,” said Briggs.
While he continues with his education at IAIA, Briggs also plans to become a certified barber and create his own shop. Briggs’ ultimate goal is to open a mobile barber shop in the back of a truck and help people feel better about themselves.
“Cutting homeless people’s hair or anyone who can’t afford a real expensive haircut, no matter where I go, state to state, people are going to be happy with my visit.”