NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Western New Yorker puts the good in good neighbors.
She is a talented community member whose ability to empathize with others has been able to spread across the region and beyond.
“I got into barbering at the age of 15. I went to Erie One Boces. It’s a trade school offered to high schoolers,” master barber and content creator, Loriel Escalera said. “Ever since then, I stuck with it.”
Now, at the age of 22, Loriel Escalera also known as “Loriel da Barb-her“, has been able to make her mark in the barbering industry by cutting up new techniques via social media.
“You could be who you want to be. You can set your own path. You’re an entrepreneur. You can set your own standards. You can be you in this area or field,” Escalera said.
The good neighbor has also showing compassion by giving free haircuts to those who cannot afford one.
Just wanted to try an experiment and just try it out and see what I can do. I know I can inspire a lot of people from social media and stuff like that, so taking it out of my comfort zone and doing something for someone else for free and simply just recording it actually motivated a lot of people and motivated myself,” the Amherst native shared.
“Loriel da Barb-her” explained she plans to continue the good gesture once the weather becomes bearable in Western New York.
Clients like Scott Pagliaccio at King Cuts Barber, in North Tonawanda, said he admires Loriel’s ‘selflessness’, and said it is creating a ripple effect across the Western New York community. The two have known each other since the start of the pandemic.
Her heart is wide open and beautiful and super considerate of others,” Scott Pagliaccio said, “She mentors me in the way that she shows up in life. She’s putting herself out there which is inspiring for me I’m an entrepreneur as well and I’m just starting out, so every time I see her show up and really, fully play hard, it inspires me to want to do well.”
She credits her calm demeanor and empathy to her upbringing, but said it was not the easiest growing up in a religious environment, especially being a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
“I grew up very religious. Very religious. I might tear up, but I grew up very religious. It was very difficult for me. Jehovah Witness is one of the religions that follows the Bible, word for word. I don’t even celebrate my birthday. There’s a lot that my religion did to me. I was never able to celebrate my birthday, Christmas, any holiday. So, by that itself made me put myself on the outside bubble of everybody that I ever talked to,” she explained. “That’s who I am and that’s me.”
She added that being a female barber also comes with its fair share of challenges.
“It was the biggest downfall I can say that happened in my barbering career. You lose faith, you lose a lot of hope for yourself knowing that a man might judge you off of looks, appearance or just whatever it could be. This world is very hypocritical and so going through that as a teenager was a bit difficult. It was a big setback but it also made me into the person I am today. To where I can put my foot down, tell people to have self-worth. To be who you are and tell people to have self-worth because it’s very difficult being a female in a barbering industry,” she said.
Utilizing social media sites like Instagram and TikTok, however, has allowed the talented barber to create trust for her current and future clients.
“Knowing that they believe in me and they see where I’ve came from. Social media is also another thing that builds up who I am. It’s like a brand for me. People see my work on social media. I actually build trust by putting myself out there,” Escalera said.
She hopes anyone who wishes to follow in her footsteps to keep this in mind:
“Believe in yourself, don’t care what anyone else has to say. This is your world. Don’t let anything get too personal. Take advice, take criticism and be yourself. You’ll flourish, I would say, she said.
When asked who her inspiration is, she said fellow barber, Victor Fontanez who goes by “Vic Blends“.
I’ve always said VicBlends. He’s a person that’s my age. He’s 22. He’s a master barber. He’s in the hip-hop industry. He does a lot of motivational speaking and that’s where I potentially see myself, Loriel said.
By the end spring, Western New York’s very own “Loriel da Barb-her” will be packing her bags and razors and will be heading to the Midwest.
“I’ll be going out to Chicago and I’ll be fulfilling my dream in becoming a full-time content creator,” she shared.