Barber of The Year Nathan Wright
In 1982, 13 year old Nathan Wright walked in on his dad as he was preparing to give both of his brothers a hair-cut. Nate, who was always competitive, was shocked because his father had never cut hair before so he immediately decided to challenge him and made a bet that he could do a better job. His brothers cheered him on to go for it despite knowing that Nate himself had never cut hair before either, let alone held a pair of clippers in his young hands. His father took the bet, handed him the clippers and Nate cut the ever-popular early 80’s Duck Tail style for both of his brothers. “I had never picked up a pair of clippers in my life, so I did the cuts based on visualization. … and I did a pretty good job!”
It was at that moment Nate fell in love with cutting hair and he never looked back. “I used to eat, sleep and breathe barbering…I would cut everyone’s hair from my brothers, cousins, friends, neighbors, church members, family friends… my father let me keep those clippers and I would put them in my back sack and ride my bike around the city going to whomever needed a hair-cut, ” he recalled smiling about the memories of being a determined youth. “At first I started out doing hair-cuts for free and when I was 14 years old I started charging $1. At 15 I felt like the cuts were getting better so I charged $2 eventually working my way up to $5″ he chuckled.
One of 9 children, he learned time management early as he juggled high school studies, sports, music and art between cutting heads and constantly perfecting the precision of his barbering skills. He graduated from McKinley High in 1988 and decided to enter barbering college the very next day, enrolling in the now defunct and formerly well-respected Peter Piccolo School of Hair Design. After passing the board examination at 19, Nate worked at Hair Flair 2000 for his first professional gig moving on to Salon V in Allen Town before embarking on his own business venture.
In June of 1999 at the age of 30 he had his grand opening for Class Act Barbershop. By then he had a very established upscale clientele on his roster and 17 years of consistent non-stop hard work of men’s grooming under his belt. His dream had come true and at that time making a little history as likely the first Black owned male grooming business in theElmwood area. “I wanted to diversify my client base and I knew the area would bring me more clients. I gained a lot of experience through my barber education on how to cut any texture of hair so I could cater to clients of all backgrounds with the common thread of them all being high end business professionals.” Timing was everything and Nate’s plan worked. He was able to keep his clients and upgrade his service just the way he wanted and to whom he wanted on top of bringing Black Excellence to Allentown, at a time when the area had very few Black owned businesses and not necessarily 100% open arms to diversity.
Outside of his own self-motivation, and full support of his family, Nate credits his late aunt Kathy Jones who he called aunt Kat, for inspiring him to use his skills and make the move to become an entrepreneur. At the age of 16 his aunt made it official. “My aunt Kat got me my very first official pair of clippers, they were Wall Clippers with the little light on it, a top of the line starter pair,” he fondly recalled. He also credits his Uncle Pete who was instrumental during his early maturing in barbering helping him get clients from his job.
And as for his clients?
“ My clients are the real stars of my show, coming in consistently every week or every two weeks. They are the stars who have been supporting me since 1989, and are most important to me and the survival of my business.” From working with high end business professionals, celebrity musicians and even his honorable mention as groomer for Buffalo’s own Joe Public Live and Learn album and one of his cuts appearing in the 93’ Sports Illustrated Super Bowl edition, over the years one of Nate’s most important A-1 rules for success has been consistency from the moment you walk through the door and sit in his chair and all that happens thereafter. Most importantly he never falters from his “by appointment only” rule and has not taken a walk-in for over 25 years.
-Giving Back –
In addition to his business Nate is also an advocate for barbering education and gives back as an active board member for The Buffalo School of Barbering a program through Buffalo Public Schools Adult Learning Division. His “Barbering Internship” program was recently NYS approved and has been made an official part of the school’s curriculum. He’s also serves on the board for the Nationally accredited Council on Occupational Education (COE) for the school.
At 50 years young, Nate has plans for a future revamping and expansion of his current location, making more space for future skilled barbers that meet the Class Act criteria. Nate is also in the early planning stage of developing the first Class Act Barbershop Franchise to continue growing the success of his business outside of the borders of Buffalo to keep his legacy alive.
When asked what his fondest business memory has been thus far he reflected back to June 1st 1999.
“My grand opening day, It was a dream come true. I had realized my vision from the age of 13. The people who appreciate and patronize it, to this day I am grateful for and knowing I am of value to them means a lot to me” Nate says. The barbershop, he continues, gives him the platform to help people not only through being part of their lives with regular grooming but through being an ear to listen or hold conversation, sharing information, encouragement. “ It’s a passion and a joy that God called me to do and equipped me with the gift to do it. This truly is a ministry for me.”
Congratulations Nate, our 2018 Barber of the Year! -L.H.
Class Act Barbershop and Men’s Grooming Facility is located at 78 Elmwood Ave Hours of Operation Hours of Operation Wed. Thurs. Fri. Sat., 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. T. 716 563-0595
Beautician of The Year Tatainna Devers
Tataianna Devers has always had a knack for doing hair. Her first “customers” were close friends when she was 14 years old. It wasn’t long before people around the neighborhood recognized her talent. “They would just show me a picture of the hair style they wanted” Tataianna recalled, and she would make it happen!
She graduated from Burgard Vocational High School where she studied business, but hair was always in the picture. She went on to attend and graduated in year 2000 from the Continental School of Beauty Culture .
Like many stylists, she started off doing hair in her home while holding down a full time job. At the time, a young mom of two, she kept her eyes on the prize. “My day job was in customer service, doing hair was my side hustle!” said Tataianna. But it was the “hustle” she loved, and eventually, “I made a vow to work my passion !”
With her cosmetology license in hand and years of experience under her belt, she developed her craft even further working in a number of local salons. “My first salon job was with Isaiah Watkins at Planet Ice on Kensington Avenue.” She also worked at Infinity by Beverly R., Str8Honi Hair Salon, Signature Cutz Salon owned by Kenny Harris of Signature Cutz Barbershop, New Look Beauty Salon owned by the late Kimberly Watkins, JC Penny’s Salon Boulevard Mall location and Upscale Beauty . She ultimately launched her own “Diva Enhancement by Miss T,” working mainly by appointment only.
Tataianna , who specializes in hair coloring , silk presses and short cuts, also promotes natural hair as well as restorative hair
care. Now over 15 years into her craft, her work speaks for itself. Word of mouth and social media are currently her main sources of advertisement. She has only been in her present location in the rear of The New Clipp House Barber shop at 543 East Ferry and Humboldt since June.
Building a new venture takes time, and she is currently looking for hair stylists, braiders, make up artists, estheticians and a nail tech and massage therapist. It has been a leap of faith for Tataianna. Her loyal clientele is steady and clearly impressed by her work. They describe her in such glowing terms as, “one who does excellent work!” “very professional “ and “an amazingly talented beautician…phenomenal!”
Young, creative and with lots of ideas, she’d like to see local barber and beauticians come together not only to support one another, but to do things like sponsor hair shows, career expos, seminars and community give-back events. -Complete Surprise- Being nominated and selected as the Cosmetologist of the Year, she said, was a complete, surprise.
But this is not Tataianna’s only honor. She is constantly working to improve her craft and early this year was honored with the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the “Women Walking In Footsteps of Greatness” and is an ambassador for “Divas In Business,” founded by Trish Drake-Wright out of Columbus, Ohio. She also was honored as Women of the Month in September 2017 for her involvement in Women Succeeding Successfully Empowerment group founded by Tamee Ebo of Buffalo, NY and completed the UB Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Allstate Minority & Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program.
In May of 2017 she graduated from Bryant & Stratton College where she received her Associates Degree in Business with a 4.0 average every semester as well as perfect attendance. In addition to running her own shop, she hopes to also be able to “one day come from behind the chair” and educate and teach. -“Miss T” When Tataianna walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma at Burgard she already had two young children who walked with her.
For a lot of people, that would have been it in terms of future career goals. But she did not let that stop her. “Miss T,” strong and determined, has always held fast to her dreams and worked hard to make them a reality.
Today at 41, she is the proud mom of four children and one grandchild. Her eldest son, Jaequan also known as MackMillz, is currently making his mark in the rap/entertainment world.
“I would like to thank my clients for trusting in my craft and passion for healthy hair services, and a host of family and friends who always encouraged me to be great! Also Dhannayia Johnson at the SBDC, Alecia Taggert-Powell and Davina Moss-King for seeing in me what I didn’t see in myself. Last but not least my sister in Christ Ayanna Moore for her prayers and comforting words .”
Her children, her mother, Barbara Pegues, her father Andre Devers and grandmother, the late Ethel Cobb, have given her great support. “My family really encourages me to keep going,” she said. “This is my passion.”
Congratulations Tataianna, our 2018 Cosmetologist of the Year! A.B.
Tataianna can be reached at divaenhancementbymisst@gmail. com
*THE BARBER BEAUTICIAN COMPETITION IS HELD ANNUAL AND BASED ON SUBMITTED VOTES VIA BALLOTS AVAILABLE IN OUR WEEKLY EDITION TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE COMPETITION. WINNERS GET AWARDED WITH COVER FEATURE STORY AND ONE FULL YEAR OF FREE ADVERTISING IN OUR PUBLICATION IN SUPPORT OF THEIR BUSINESS. THE 2019 COMPETITION WILL BE ANNOUNCED IN SEPTEMBER OF 2019