English 11


Painters, dancers and musicians are all considered artists. Make-up artists even have the word “artists” in their job titles. But Mau, the world-famous one-named barber, is making a push to have the top-notch members of his profession added to the illustrious ranks of the world’s artists. His movement is motivated not by greed but what seem1 to be the noble notion of giving credit to truly great workers.

When Mau was attending school for hair design, he became exceptionally curious about the fact that because2 a poll had said that men were willing to pay only one-fifth of what women were willing to pay for a haircut, the barbers for men and women were equally trained the same amount3In an attempt to resolve this paradox,4 Mau started a shop with arbitrary pricing: all of the barbers, as long as they gave Mau 25% of their profits, could charge customers whatever they wanted, even though they all provided the same services. [5] The results were, to say the least, surprising. Most people knew that the barbers were all well-skilled, yet customers refused to have their hair cut by those charging lower fees. Mau’s shop was one of the clearest experiments to provide proof of the economic theory known colloquially as “the snob effect” and demonstrating6 the customers’ need to feel as though they are getting more by paying more.

Mau has employed a few other similar experiments in the barbershops he currently owns. The first allowing7 all of the barbers high,8 or low prices to be determined by customer evaluation. The more satisfied the customers, the more that barber can charge. This has the added benefit of healthy competition among Mau’s workers, as they all gain an incentive for making sure it’s9 customers were pleased. A second experiment provides an amateur contest for “hair designers,” as Mau calls them, allowing young aspiring hair stylists with ample talent but too few10 live subjects to present their best work for a panel of renowned judges. Similarly,11 Mau’s real focus is on the stylists with a full career’s worth of experiments.

Mau believes that his third, and most recent, experiment is the superior12 way to establish barbers as true artists. He has given his most consistent performers online “channels,” with live-streaming videos on the internet of hair-cutting sessions. Mau believes this will provide an excellent educational tool, as well as a behind-the-scenes peek at the artistic process that goes into an excellent haircut. Unusual haircuts, such as an appointment with a celebrity or a barber’s attempt to perform a haircut using only a machete, have placed certain stylists on top of13 the website’s ratings.

Mau’s experiments have inspired many copycat websites; thus14 demonstrating the support this profession has. Perhaps someday, Mau’s name will be uttered in the same breath as da Vinci, Baryshnikov, and Stravinsky. [15]