Rez Style: Haircuts Shape a Community

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.    

The Rez and Fresh Cuts  

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.”

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