A few years ago, a twenty-something year old from Waterbury, Connecticut named Byrd Mena shocked the world when he used social media to open doors that he never dreamed possible.
Byrd is the platform artist, educator, and brand ambassador who pretty much invented the idea of online barber battles. And he turned his celebrity status into an exciting career that mainly involves hosting live events in front of thousands to inspire the next generation of barbers.
For anyone who hasn’t heard his story and for everyone who has, read closely to learn what this social media icon is cooking up next. Though it may not come as a surprise, Byrd is trailblazing a new venture to bring industry professionals closer together, amidst the global pandemic.
He just started a web series called Late Night Tea with Byrd Mena. Each episode features a well-known industry expert sharing trade secrets and industry knowledge. But the show has a personal touch that’s similar to the intimate conversations that take place in a barbershop.
The sessions stream exclusively on the Booksy Instagram account, and two episodes have aired. So, now’s the time to learn about this one-of-a-kind series that encourages industry kings and queens to talk about their successes to help others learn the ins and outs of the business.
Getting Ready for Showtime via IGTV
In the world of entertainers, Byrd is certainly a force to be reckoned with. His hair color could easily be blue, pink, yellow, purple, or red depending on his mood. And his trendsetting style of dress seems inspired by urban streetwear and classic punk ensembles at the same time.
But the quality that makes Byrd the perfect person to interview barbers and hair technicians is his keen eye for talent. He first tapped into that gift while spotting fresh cuts when he created SharpFade, his very own brand.
Byrd created SharpFade to showcase talented cuts from around the country. Currently, SharpFade has over 710,000 Instagram followers and the SharpFade hashtag has been used over 3 million times. But despite all of his accomplishments, each episode of Late Night Tea with Byrd Mena is all about the person that Byrd has chosen to speak with.
For people to take the talk show seriously, it has to be about the guest, Byrd said. He added that it’s important for the online audience to connect with the topics while having fun, which is exactly what’s happening every time the show airs.
“It’s just a good time. At points I’m dancing with the person. At one point we’re sipping tea, at one point we’re just having a laugh with everybody. And at one point we’re learning and educating ourselves. At another point we’re getting motivated and getting inspired,” Byrd said.
The First Guests on Late Night Tea
The first episode of Late Night Tea with Byrd Mena aired on November 4th. It featured two Chicago, Illinois based barbers, who are actually a couple that met in cosmetology school.
Carlos Estrella, better known by the nickname Los Cut It, appeared on the show with Assyria Gindo. Combined, this young power couple has already accumulated a total of 25 years of experience in the industry.
Assyria talked about how she recently began to challenge herself by offering one on one classes to industry newcomers, who want to gain insight and tap into the experience she’s gained while working with dedicated professionals, like her fellow staffers at Official Cuts.
On a similar note, Carlos discussed the challenge of leaving a traditional barbershop to work in a private studio space, so he could have more independence. But he loves the change, especially since it lets him tap into his creativity. Now, he can have a photo or video shoot when he wants. Then he can publish that content onto his social media pages to attract more clients.
When asked by Byrd to elaborate on the subject of creating online content and using digital platforms, Carlos encouraged fellow barbers to keep making efforts. He said it’s important to master that skill by continuously seeking out information from every available platform.
“A lot of people graduate school and they go to college and get into student loans and all of that crazy stuff. But people don’t realize that the best university out there to me is YouTube,” he said. “A lot of the stuff that I know as far as photography, videography and a lot of little things, those are things that I learned by spending hours on YouTube learning.”
Talking About the Industry with Tina Sapia
After a successful first show, the second episode of Late Night Tea with Byrd Mena aired on November 11th. Tina Sapia was the guest, and she talked about independently running her two businesses. She owns Sapia’s Barber Shop and Ciao Bella, which are both in Clearwater, Florida.
Tina discussed some of the challenges that she had to overcome while being a business owner during the pandemic, especially since she manages people who’ve become more like family than friends. And she admitted to having a very real discussion with her barbers. They talked before she made the decision not to charge them to rent their chairs during such a tough time.
Tina said that the discussion within the shop was frank and earnest. But more importantly, they were able to come to an agreement as a team and eventually move forward together.
Shortly after talking about some of the challenges she faced as a business owner during COVID-19, Tina moved on to talk about how she hopes to see more female representation in the barbering industry. Specifically, she hopes to see more mature women to make sure that everyone has a face in this industry.
Upcoming Episodes of Late Night Tea
If you’re planning to tune into Late Night Tea with Byrd Mena for the first time, expect to see Byrd pouring tea from a kettle, sporting a late night robe, or wearing striped pajamas while in front of a sky blue or a loud pink background.
Unsurprisingly, the show has already attracted sponsorships from household names like Wahl and Pennie’s Tea. And of course, Byrd gives away prizes. For example, every episode he gives away a new pair of Wahl cordless clippers to an online viewer.
If you’re ready to watch episodes of Byrd interviewing talented industry professionals, head to the Booksy Instagram page. The next two episodes will air on December 9th and 16th. So, get ready to watch Byrd spill the tea!