Hana Akai wants to see more connection in her industry.
The Redken hair artist has two decades of experience as a stylist, barber and blogger, and opened Akai Hair Design on Victoria’s Quadra Street in 2004.
As a barber and cosmetologist, Akai is organizing Victoria’s first Barber Battle: Urban Beatz and Cutz 2, a competition open both to barbers and hair dressers.
While the one-day event is about cutting hair, it’s also a celebration of music, fun and connection. Described as a “jam-packed, hip hop throw down” the battle starts with a day full of hair industry education before shifting to the “synergy of a barber battle with live hip hop and dance performances.”
“I wanted to put this on because Victoria has very few events like this,” she said. “It’s not just about this industry of doing hair, it’s about showcasing what we do and letting people come to see what we do,” she said. “I’d love to see people from all over come and watch what we do. It’s very intricate work and it’s very creative. I want a place to showcase it so people understand the time, commitment and training that goes into what we do.”
|Hana Akai providing a free hair cut on Quadra Village Day. The local stylist is putting on Victoria’s first ever barber battle, Urban Beatz and Cutz 2 with partial profits going to the Quadra Village Teen Centre. (Facebook/Akai Hair Design)|
Akai’s mission is to “change the public’s view of barbers and stylists as well as to highlight the life changing impact of the art form and skill set.”
“As a woman organizing the first barber battle in Victoria, a field that is male dominated, I wanted to ensure that we celebrate our craft and elevate each other,” Akai said. “I’m striving for an ego-free event – concentrating on plenty of knowledge exchange and healthy competition.”
The competition draws talent from across B.C. and as far as Toronto, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Competing barbers and hair dressers will vie for the top spot in categories like free style, low fade with beard, fastest fade and even a student battle.
“I love my industry. I love the art of it,” Akai said. “I am thrilled to be showcasing master international barbers from Chicago and Toronto here in southern Vancouver Island. Urban Beatz and Cutz 2 – it’s all about bringing the community together.”
While talent is coming in from across the border, Akai’s passion project will benefit the local community. Partial proceeds will go to the Quadra Village Teen Centre to support Victoria’s vulnerable youth.
Urban Beatz and Cutz 2 will be held June 16 at the Victoria Event Centre. For more information visit urbanbeatzandcutz2.com.
Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.ca.