Maker Feature No. 001
At its core, Sozo is a brand that celebrates artists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and of course, makers. We do this by supporting their work and telling their stories through our SOZO Maker Features.
Chuck Falk, Barber + Business Owner, sat down with us for an interview conducted by our team to discuss what being an American maker means to him. Read his full interview below.
What does being an American maker mean to you?
I think it means being creative in any way that you see fit. Specifically for me, I’m creative with how I cut people’s hair. But I think in general, being an American maker, just means you can really do anything—you can use a trade, a skill, you can create a business, you can provide a service. I think it’s important for everyone to utilize their creativity to make their community a better place.
Was being a barber always your passion? If not, how did you come into it?
I followed a more nontraditional path for figuring out what I wanted to do. It basically started in men’s style and the fashion industry; I was really interested in that. So, I pursued it in college and got a merchandising degree. Then I ended up trying to make it work in New York by selling t-shirts, doing internships...I worked for a catering company and some other odd jobs just to kind of pay the bills. Then one day, I went and got a haircut and a shave at a barber shop in New York, and it kind of changed my life. I came home and went to barber school in 2011, and I’ve been cutting hair ever since.
So yeah, it definitely wasn’t a passion that I was necessarily born with or realized at a young age. It was something that I developed a passion for over time...but it’s not so much a passion for cutting hair as much as it’s a passion for providing a service for others—to make them feel and look good—that’s more rewarding for me. And, I think that my clientele really appreciates that, you know? I think they appreciate that what makes me feel good is doing what I can to make them feel and look their best.
So, I’ve definitely developed a passion for the trade of barbering. It’s what I do every day, and it’s very important to me. So yeah, there’s definitely a passion there
What is your daily routine to keep you motivated and on track for your goals and your career?
Yeah, I mean, that starts with my family. I have two daughters and a beautiful wife, and I start my day with them. They get me motivated to do and be the best that I can, for them.
But I also try to stay on top of trends in men’s fashion and stay up to date with what’s happening in the industry. I pay close attention to different brands for clothing, skin care and hair products, and I’m always on the lookout for something new to offer my clients.
But generally, my routine is just staying involved, keeping my eyes open, and always trying to do something different and something new.
Take us through your creative process.
I’ve found over the years that the most efficient way to begin a haircut is to ask your client what they don’t like. That quickly lets me know where not to go, and we can build from there.
I do use some communication skills—like buzzwords—with new clients to help me get in the right zone. That way, I can make sure the client will look their best. So, communication is the biggest thing. You really have to listen, and you really have to try and understand what the client’s asking for.
There’s obviously more to my process, but I like to leave a little magic. People can discover that when they’re in the shop. I’m closing in on almost 10 years of doing what I do, and I really think to be a master at anything—to master your trade—you have to do it a lot. You have to do it every day, and you have to learn from everything. I learn from every haircut, and I learn something from every person that walks through my door. No matter how long you do something, you need to continue to learn and grow.
What are you going to take away from this time in your life? What does a life well-lived mean to you?
What I’ll take away from the last year and a half is that it helped me realize what was really important in life and what was worth my time. A lot of that came down to family-time.
Before Covid, you were expected to go to work if you were sick or if you were healthy. You weren’t encouraged to take vacations. You were expected to go to work—you have to work! But having two months off and getting to sit on the couch with my wife and my daughter—our second daughter wasn’t cookin’ yet, so it was just the three of us—showed me that the most important thing is family and staying healthy.
But I also think that life is about experiences. Of course, you want to be successful and live as comfortably as possible, but I think gaining new experiences and not just sticking to the same routine is important too. Life needs some sporadic behavior. So, for me, a life well-lived is one where you try to get everything that you want to do, done. Being creative and being an entrepreneur helps me get closer to that point.