Hometown Barber Shop barber Manny Benavidez puts the finishing touches on a completed haircut using an airbrush on co-worker Jayla Ortiz. This technique is known as an enhancement.
(Stephen Montoya/ Rio Rancho Observer)

Customers at the newly opened Hometown Barber Shop may be surprised when one of the four hair specialists there preps an airbrush gun to finish a haircut.

In fact, barber Manny Benavidez swears it is a new technique that not only sets Hometown Barber Shop apart from of its competitors but also adds depth to a finished haircut.

“This is not something they are going to teach you in barber college,” Benavidez said. “We all mastered this technique by first trying it on ourselves.”

Besides airbrush lines, Benavidez, a Las Vegas, N.M., native, likes to do house calls when he isn’t cutting hair at the shop.

When asked why he became a barber, Benavidez said he owed his inspiration to his father.

“My pops cut my hair since I was in high school,” he said. “I was looking in the mirror one day and thought, ‘I can do that.'”

After going through a few trial-and-error cuts, Benavidez said, he enrolled at Albuquerque Barber College to get formal training in the craft. After graduation, he said he was told the big money was in the Albuquerque/Rio Rancho area, so he moved to the City of Vision to begin collecting clients.

“I’m pretty much a barber seven days a week,” he said. “On the Mondays I am off from the shop, I do assisted-living homes every other Monday…or I am doing a house call.

Benavidez, who said he has been cutting hair for over seven years, said he enjoys the work and interacting with new people.

A house call normally runs $40 and an in-shop cut costs around $20 for the airbrush treatment, or as Benavidez calls it, an “enhancement.”

“If a client is out in Albuquerque, it’s little bit more just because of gas,” he said. “But I like to keep it reasonable, and I take my time with each client; there’s no reason to rush.”

Benavidez said an enhancement is free if it’s the client’s first time so they can see if they will want it on their next visit.

“It makes a good haircut just a little bit better,” he said. “It’s pretty much just making a line near the top of the cut on a customer’s head.”

Benavidez said an enhancement also looks good for customers with beards, and helps straighten naturally crooked hair lines.

An enhancement, he said, can last anywhere from two to five days, depending on how much grooming a client does after leaving the shop.

When asked where he learned his enhancement technique, Benavidez laughed and pointed at Hometown Barber Shop owner Mark DuBerry.

From left, Hometown Barber Shop staffers Jayla Ortiz, Manny Benavidez and owner Mark DuBerry, pose in front of the north wall of the shop.
(Stephen Montoya/ Rio Rancho Observer)

DuBerry, originally from Virginia, said besides going through his own trials and errors with the enhancement process, he also went through quite a bit to open his newly renovated barber shop at 1728 Abrazo Road, just off Unser Boulevard.

“We retrofitted quite a bit to make this our own space,” DuBerry said. “This was already two other barber shops, but this is the last one (laughs).”

DuBerry has four full-time barbers who take appointments and walk-ins.

“I put a good $10,000 into making the place what it is; now we just want to invite the community in to experience our laid-back atmosphere,” he said.

Hometown Barber Shop features two walls with urban graffiti art, and each hairstylist has a work station built out of heavy-duty Husky tool boxes.

Beside the street accents, the shop has a large saltwater aquarium with clown fish and other aquatic creatures.

“I opened out here because I felt like this area was under-served when it came to having a barber,” DuBerry said. “So far, the community has been good to us and proven that I was right.”

For more info, visit Hometown Barber Shop on Facebook.