Local Latina barber is known for her award-winning fast fades and sharp cuts

Rosy Yañez had a client tell her he would never get his hair cut by a woman.

He caved and became her client for three years. His son would become a regular, too.

Barber shops are known to be a male-focused environment and not necessarily a place where women lead, but the Santa Rosa resident has defied those odds and carved out her own path as an award-winning Bay Area barber.

According to the National Barber Museum, about 6,000 years ago, barbering services were first utilized by Egyptian nobility. Fast forward to 1855, and George Miller, who was a Black man, moved to Petaluma with his family and opened a barbershop, which saw white clientele. In 1857, John Richards, also a Black man, opened his barbershop near Santa Rosa House, the town’s busiest hotel and the stage stop.

Sonoma County barbershops have continued to be a place where people of color can get the right service for their specific hair type while connecting with friends.

There are more than 12,880 barbers in the United States, according to the online recruitment site ZIPPIA. As of 2021, 60% of barbers are white, 22% are Hispanic or Latino, 6.8% are Black or African American and 6.6% are Asian.

In 2010, women accounted for 29.3% of the barbers in the United States. Now, women account for 25.1% of the barber workforce.

But that hasn’t deterred Yañez from making a name for herself in the local barber community.

“I love making people feel beautiful. I love the feeling when I turn people around, and show them the mirror,” she said. “It just gives them a lot of confidence and I love that part of my job. I like to say some people are my canvases and my clippers are my paint brushes.”

Her favorite haircut to give clients is a basic skin fade and doesn’t shy away from trends like mullets, scissor haircuts and anything with texture. She also loves working on beards.

“Maybe because I don’t have one. That’s fun,” she said.

Yañez — a San Rafael native who moved to Santa Rosa in 2015 — always wanted to dye her hair but had to wait until her quinceañera, a party honoring a 15-year-old girl as she officially enters adulthood.

“Ever since then I’m like, ‘wow’. I just love that, how they made me feel and just the environment,” Yañez said of that salon experience.

She was hooked. A year later she’d be attending beauty school.

At 16 years old, she was pursuing her dream of working with hair by going to night school at San Rafael Beauty Academy while simultaneously attending San Rafael High School.

“It took me a long time to finish beauty school just because I was still doing high school at the same time. But I feel those two years I was able to really take everything in,” she said.

In the beginning, Yañez wanted to try everything in her cosmetology class from nails to makeup and hair, before finding her niche. That niche would be cutting hair and it’s been her passion ever since.

Learning the trade

After graduating from cosmetology school, Yañez got her license in 2020 and began working at salons. She got a job at Great Clips in San Rafael, then transferred to the Stony Point location in Santa Rosa.

While beauty school helped Yañez get her a license, she didn’t know how to cut men’s hair. The extent of her knowledge included one class on cutting short hair.

“When I started working at Great Clips, I had to learn how to use clippers and how to use the guards … and I didn’t know how to do it,” she said.

Over time, she gained confidence and began working part-time at a barbershop. Then, she was invited to work at Valentino’s Barber Lounge in Cotati.

During this time, clients were finding and booking Yañez through her social media accounts. Her before-and-after hair transformations on Facebook and Instagram were also finding fans in fellow Bay Area barbers.

Becoming a barber

Yañez moved to a few different Sonoma County shops including Dominic’s Allstar Barbershop, West Coast Cuts and Visionz Barbershop. Then in 2022, she began working at Cali Vibes Barber Lounge on Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa. Her friend, Chelly Ortiz, owns the barber lounge and asked Yañez to be one of the shop’s stylists.

“Now, I finally found my home. So now I get to work with my best friends every day. It’s amazing,” Yañez said.

And Ortiz enjoys working with her best friend, too.

“It’s been a blessing to work next to each other,” Ortiz said. “Just as she is on stage (during barber battles) she brings her good energy while running her own business.”

This post was originally published on this site