Lici Febo, better known as Lici Lady Barber (@lici_ladybarber), has won many awards for the intricacy of her detailed freestyle designs. As a child, she was involved in an accident that left her with severe burns and limited hand mobility. She attributes winning The CW’s Cedric’s Barber Battle as a career defining moment. After winning the show she became a nationally sought-after educator and motivational speaker.
SC: Which barbers have inspired you the most throughout your career?
Lici Febo: Christina Goree was one of my first inspirations. She was a well-respected award-winning female barber; this was a time where this was uncommon. She was the founder of Lady Barbers United and this truly inspired to fight against any and all transgressions throughout my career. Kenny Duncan was my second greatest inspiration. I loved his teaching style, his verbiage, and the elegance in which he not only cut hair but the form in which he delivered his message. He inspired me to become an educator.
SC: What have been some of the big challenges you’ve faced as a female barber?
LF: As a female barber I’ve faced many adversities throughout my career. My skill set has always been questioned to the point where I’ve had to go out of my way to prove myself by posting pictures of my work around my station and joining barber competitions. Too many have underestimated my potential to succeed in this industry solely for being a woman.
I have experienced unsolicited sexual advancements both in the shop and at hair shows and the judgement of my character has always been misunderstood. All of these things are trivial to me because they’ve never stopped me from being the best version of myself. I have dedicated my time to education, continually seeking out and learning from mentors, perfecting my craft, and networking to become the entrepreneur and overachiever I am today.
SC: When doing research for this article, I came across a lot of “Can I trust a female barber?” What is your immediate response to reading that?
LF: I Just laugh and shake my head. Many clients have straight out told me they don’t trust a woman to cut their hair and that’s my response. Then I follow up by saying, “Come on man, let me show you what you’ve been missing out. If you don’t like the cut, it’s on me.” Works every time.
SC: True or false: You’ve had to work twice as hard to be perceived half as good as your male counterparts. If so, in what ways?
LF: True. I believe that initially as a female barber there is always going to be speculation on credibility. My skill set is undeniable. Once a client sits in my chair, it’s game over. The goal for me has always been to make a great first impression so as soon as a client walks through the door. I show pure confidence using my posture, the way I dress, the tone of my voice, and my smile.
I’ve had to command respect in the shop by not being afraid to be myself or educate my client. I find that when you're confident, relaxed and unphased by any uncertainty a client may have about you, they are much more relaxed, and the service goes smoothly.
SC: In what ways are you trying to eliminate gender stereotypes within the barbering industry?
LF: My way of eliminating gender stereotypes is leading by example and proving that gender stereotypes are misleading and a juvenile way of thinking.
SC: Hopefully in the future when you get interviewed, you will not be asked any questions relating to gender within your field. What can other barbers, salon/barbershop owners, and stylists do now to be allies, help break down gender barriers and create a more level playing field in barbering today?
The best way to break down gender barriers is through education. The goal is to establish a professional standard within the barbershop and salon environment by addressing gender bias as it happens.
Make sure your team knows what gender bias looks like and how to avoid it. Showcase some examples to help illustrate the point. If people aren’t made aware, then changes won’t happen so it's important to raise awareness. Offer mentoring ongoing support, and praise. Uplift each other. These are the best confidence boosters that help everyone stay connected and are crucial for creating an award-winning team.
SC: How are you going to change the industry for up-and-coming female barbers?
LF: I choose to be a proud representation of a successful female barber, and empower women to stand in their truth and their glory. It’s important for me to remind women that no one has the power to dim their light. In fact, the only obstacle standing in their way is their own insecurity which is driven by fear. Let that go and free yourself from the lies meant to destroy your greatness. My testimony along with many other successful women in the industry is living proof that no matter what experiences you encounter there is always a solution. Patience is the door, and persistence is the key.
SC: What has been your proudest moment as a barber?
LF: I thought my proudest moment would be when I won the championship belt during episode four of Cedric’s Barber Battle. I was the only woman to win this televised competition. Even though that moment paved the way for many women in the industry and changed the course of my career, I have to say the proudest moment of my career was becoming a licensed educator. I have helped shape the lives of many future professionals and continue to inspire and transform lives. This is truly rewarding and have found my purpose in life.
SC: What are you most proud of about yourself outside of your profession?
LF: When I first picked up a pair of clippers, I was homeless. This was a way of survival in my darkest moment. When I discovered that I could create art using this medium, I liberated myself creatively and it shaped me as a hair artist. I was a single mother trying to provide for my children. Today, my kids tell me how proud they are of me and that is the best compliment I could ever receive. I am most proud of watching my kids grow to become just as driven and dedicated as I am, and they are chasing their dreams. Everything I fought for was for them and it was worth all of it.
SC: What’s your signature barbering technique?
LF: My signature technique is my freestyle line work. It’s organic and fluid each and every time. I usually allow my emotions to dictate the end result of my design. I never know what I’m going to do until it's done.