Barber Nikhita Rogers takes her job seriously. She gained the education and experience through a de facto apprenticeship, but she is hungry to learn and keep learning.
In preparation for the opening of the new Fades and Shaves Barbering – located in the 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 desk at the Rock Plaza salon. “First, why are you a hairdresser? Second, what are your favorite tools and products? And thirdly, what do you like best about the hairdresser?”
Local and out-of-town barbers are not averse to helping a potential rival, but are happy to help a newcomer to the barbering scene, Rogers said.
Drawing on her experience in hairdressing school, other professionals and an ever-growing list of hairstylists who post videos she follows online, Rogers admits she picks the skills up on her own: “I got most of the important advice from mine family learned.”
Perhaps Rogers’ foray into hairdressing was inevitable: She’s a third-generation hairstylist, the granddaughter of Art Rogers of longtime Art’s Barbershop, and daughter of Lisalesa Rogers, the former owner of A Classic Clip Barbershop. Her uncle Mike Rogers, a four-decade veteran of the craft, runs Sandy’s Barber Shop on Bainbridge Island, and others have practiced the trade or trained as barbers.
“It’s a family legacy,” said Nikhita Rogers.
Rogers offers haircuts, shaves and styling six days a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8.30am to 5pm; 9:30-17:00 on Wednesdays; Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and Sundays from 10am to 5pm – as she keeps to her schedule as a single mom.
She uses a razor blade to shape hair on her neck and eyebrows as she caters to a predominantly male clientele; She does some appointments for women, but Rogers sometimes refers those in need of more styling or color to Annette Rockenbrant, owner of Sunnyside Salon.
Rather than working with groups of people like she has done in her waitressing jobs for the past 13 years, Rogers enjoys face-to-face time with customers.
“It [barbering] is artistic… and sometimes I’m like a therapist,” she said.
“I’m really enjoying it. I’m learning every day.”
The Rogers family has deep roots in the Olympic Peninsula when Arthur P. Rogers (Nikhita’s great-great-grandfather) and his wife Minnie came to the area in the early 1900s.
Nikhita’s grandfather, Arthur, dropped out of Sequim High School in 11th grade to join the US Army, and after four years he entered hairdressing school in 1956. He worked in several different towns where he mastered the art of haircutting and supplemented his income by working at Carlsborg Mill M/R Lumber Mill and Pen Ply (“Sequim Pioneer Family Histories From: 1850-1962).
For years he worked as a barber, with locations in four different locations, before eventually settling down as Art’s Barber Shop on Creamery Square. As the Grand Pioneer of the 2015 Sequim Irrigation Festival, he finally handed over the business to his daughter Lisalesa.
That’s where Nikhita started to pick up the skills of trading – along with some annoying parts.
“I just remember getting hair in my clothes,” Rogers joked. “[But] As I got older, I thought, ‘Maybe I want to do this.’”
Rogers attended local schools for much of her childhood before gaining some high school experience and eventually studying for a GED. She started at the age of 17 as a waitress and served food until a few months ago she decided to brush up on her hairdressing background.
At barber school, students learned how to razor a balloon before moving on to someone else’s skin; She first used such a razor on her own leg before working on a design for a girl’s head.
“It’s hard to hurt someone with a razor” if you do it right, Rogers said.
“It wasn’t hard for me to figure it out,” she said. “I just grew up with 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 at 48 Degrees North Restaurant in Port Angeles as needed.
“It’s a much quieter work environment… [and] I already have the customer experience.”
Rogers said she was considering getting her own business space, but overheard a station might be available at the Sunnyside Salon at Rock Plaza.
Fades and Shaves opened on March 18th. Rogers’ first haircut went to a colleague at 48 Degrees North.
Unlike a barber’s traditional face, Rogers doesn’t spend time with a leather strop — the use of such is forbidden, Rogers noted, so she uses a new blade in her razor every time.
Instead of hot lather, Rogers offers its customers gel styling with a variety of healthy products to choose from.
Some of her favorite tools include: Olivia Garden 6.5 inch silk trimming scissors (scissors); a razor from Black Widow; the slim pro trimmer by Andis; the BaByliss Pro foil razor and the Classic 76 hair clipper from Oster.
When it comes to hair products, Rogers favorites include Johnny B’s Lifted aerosol spray and Elegance shaving and aftershave gels. For those looking for a more traditional experience, Clubman Aftershave has it covered.
And for the younger crowd, it’s a usual family gift at the barber’s: a piece of Juicyfruit gum.
“It’s a tradition,” Rogers said.
Tradition is fine up to a point, but the owner of Fade and Shaves doesn’t rest on her proverbial chaircloth when it comes to staying current. Rogers said she’s preparing to attend Barbercon – yes, there is; actually several across the country – that’s scheduled for October 23 in Los Angeles.
“There’s always new trends, new styles,” she said.
Fades and shaves barbering
Where: At the Sunnyside Salon at Rock Plaza, 10127 Old Olympic Highway
Opening times: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; 9:30-17:00 on Wednesdays; 10am-2pm on Saturdays; 10am-5pm on Sundays (closed on Mondays)
Learn more: 360-728-4194, facebook.com/FadesAndShavesBarbering