On Saturday mornings it’s natural to walk into any barbershop across the country and hear conversations about race, politics, religion, and music. But what most people don’t realize is that in the early 1900s, black barbers traditionally only served white males. There was an art to being a barber. Black barbers in the early 1900s were creating an experience where men could sit back and be catered to. It was a type of luxury that signified status and influence. For Rodney Bullock, creating an experience for his customers is just as important as it was for men back in the day. The concept of black barbershops have often been seen as something of a necessity, not necessarily a social and cultural pillar in the community. But Rodney Bullock is determined to educate people outside of his community on just how important the barbershop is for black men. This passion for change and awareness led him to create Altitude Academy, a barber academy that is designed to educate and introduce competent candidates into the field of barbering and the wide scope of styling that the barbering industry encompasses.
At Altitude Academy, Bullock not only teaches the art of cutting hair. He teaches essential skills for life and business. During hands-on sessions with his students, Bullock stands boldly, most of the time in a full suit with a bow tie and a pocket square, and whips out his gold clippers as he sets the example of how to properly service a client. The cultural component of the barbershop is a moment of servitude; a sense of honor to serve your brother. It’s also where people come to discuss pertinent issues and even mobilize and strategize on how to improve their communities. Although many young men decide to become barbers, not very many are well educated on the way to maximize their earnings as a barber and essentially become an integral part of their community’s financial stability.
To Bullock, it is not just important that his students know how to maneuver physically as a barber, but that they also understand how to conduct themselves as professionals. He teaches them how to attract and retain clients, how to work as a team, and how to successfully run a business. Because barbers and stylists have held such an important role in the black community, it’s important to Bullock that he is doing his part to leave a legacy that creates sustainable wealth. By taking the physical art of cutting hair and providing guidance and mentorship on business and relationships, the skillful Master Barber is creating a new wave of talented business men and women in Eastern NC.
Altitude is an academy designed to educate and introduce competent candidates into the field of barbering and the wide scope of styling the barbering industry encompasses. This is a nine month program that requires each individual to successfully complete 1528 hours of barbering theory and application as set forth by the North Carolina Board of Barber Examiners. After successful completion, all candidates must complete 12 months of apprenticeship under the tutelage of an established, registered barber.