Barber Nikhita Rogers takes her trade seriously. She’s got the training and experience via a de facto apprenticeship, but she’s hungry to learn and keep learning.
When preparing to open the new Fades and Shaves Barbering — located within Sunnyside Salon at Rock Plaza, 10127 Old Olympic Highway — Rogers visited barbershops far and wide, seeking advice and tips from experts in the field.
“I had three questions for each of them,” Rogers said, from her work station at the Rock Plaza Salon. “One, why are you a barber? Two, what are your favorite tools and products? And three, what’s your favorite thing about barbering?”
Far from being disinclined to help a potential rival, barbers locally and out-of-town are more than happy to help a newcomer to the barber scene, Rogers said.
Drawing from her experience in barbering school, other professionals and an ever-growing list of video-posting barbers she follows online, Rogers admits she comes by the skills naturally: “The majority of important advice I learned from my family.”
Perhaps Rogers’ foray into barbering was inevitable: She’s a third-generation barber, the grand-daughter of Art Rogers of the long-running Art’s Barbershop, and daughter of Lisalesa Rogers, former owner of A Classic Clip barbershop. Her uncle, Mike Rogers, a four-decade veteran of the trade, runs Sandy’s Barber Shop on Bainbridge Island, and others have plied the trade or completed some barber training.
“It’s a family legacy,” Nikhita Rogers said.
Rogers offers haircuts, shaves and styling six days a week — 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Wednesdays; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sundays — as she works around her schedule as a single mom.
She uses a strait razor to shape hair on necks and eyebrows as she serves a predominantly male clientele; she does some appointments for women, but Rogers at times refers those needing more styling or coloring to Sunnyside Salon owner Annette Rockenbrant.
Rather than working with groups of people, as she had for much of the past 13 years in her waitressing jobs, Rogers enjoys the one-on-one time with clients.
“It [barbering] is artistic … and sometimes I’m like a therapist,” she said.
“I really enjoy it. I learn every day.”
The Rogers family has deep roots on the Olympic Peninsula, when Arthur P. Rogers (Nikhita’s great-great-grandfather) and wife Minnie came to the area in the early 20th century.
Nikhita’s grandfather Arthur left Sequim High School in the 11th grade to join the U.S. Army, and after four years entered barber school in 1956. He worked in several different cities mastering the art of cutting hair, supplementing his earnings working at the Carlsborg mill, M/R Timber sawmill and Pen Ply (“Sequim Pioneer Family Histories From: 1850-1962).
For years he worked as a barber, with locations at four different spots before finally settling as Art’s Barber Shop in what’s known as Creamery Square. A 2015 Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Pioneer, he eventually passed on the business to his daughter Lisalesa.
It’s there that Nikhita began to soak in skills of the trade — along with some annoying parts.
“I just remember getting hair in my clothes,” Rogers joked. “[But] when I got older I thought, ‘I might want to do this.’”
Rogers attended local schools for much of her childhood before a smattering of high school experiences and eventually studying for a GED. She started waitressing at 17 years of age and was serving food until several months ago, when she decided to refresh her barbering background.
In barbering school, students learned to use a straight razor on a balloon before moving on to someone’s skin; her first time using such a razor was on her own leg, before working on a design on a girl’s head.
“It’s hard to hurt someone with a straight razor” if one does it right, Rogers said.
“It wasn’t hard for me to figure it out,” she said. “I just grew up around it. It comes naturally, it really does.”
Rogers didn’t want to be in the restaurant business during the COVID pandemic, though she still works part-time as needed at 48 Degrees North Restaurant in Port Angeles.
“It is a much calmer work environment … [and] I already have the customer experience.”
Rogers said she thought about getting her own commercial space, but happened to hear that there might be a station available at Sunnyside Salon at Rock Plaza.
Fades and Shaves opened March 18. Rogers’ first haircut went to a coworker from 48 Degrees North.
Contrary to the conventional visage of a barber, Rogers doesn’t spend time with a leather strop — use of those is prohibited, Rogers noted, so she uses a new blade in her straight razor each time.
Rogers doesn’t offer hot lathers for clients but offers gel styling, with a variety of salubrious products to choose from.
Her favorite tools of the trade include: Olivia Garden 6.5-inch silk-cut shears (scissors); a Black Widow straight razor; the Andis slimline pro trimmer; the BaByliss pro foil razor, and Oster’s Classic 76 clippers.
When it comes to hair products, Rogers’ favorites include Lifted aerosol spray by Johnny B, and Elegance shaving and aftershave gels. For those seeking a traditional experience, she keeps some Clubman aftershave on hand.
And for the younger crowd, it’s a customary family barbering gift: a stick of Juicyfruit gum.
“That’s a tradition,” Rogers said.
Tradition is fine to a point, but the Fade and Shaves owner isn’t resting on her proverbial chair cloth when it comes to staying up-to-date. Rogers said she’s gearing up to attend Barbercon — yes, there is such a thing; several, in fact, across the country — that’s set for Oct. 23 in Los Angeles.
“There are always new trends, new styles,” she said.
Fades and Shaves Barbering
Where: Within Sunnyside Salon at Rock Plaza, 10127 Old Olympic Highway
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays (closed Mondays)
More info: 360-728-4194, facebook.com/FadesAndShavesBarbering