The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

Humans of WEGO: Two freshmen entrepreneurs building their business, cut-by-cut

Freshmen Erik Hernandez and Leonardo Carrillo are two young men setting roots, and hoping to get a “hair” above the rest in order to have a successful and bright futures.
Friends+Leonardo+Carrillo+and+Erik+Hernandez+pose+for+a+picture+together+
Photo by Alexa Morales
Friends Leonardo Carrillo and Erik Hernandez pose for a picture together

The bells jingle as the customer takes their first step through the door. They sink down into the leather chair, the sound of rippling plastic wrapping around their neck and laying pleasantly on their shoulders. The barbers raise their razors up to their heads, like an artist ready to paint their masterpiece.

A possible vision of the future for Leonardo Carrillo and Erik Hernandez? Perhaps. The freshmen have a strong connection with Emelia’s Barbershop, ART OF FADEZ, and Chris Montoya, all of which are encouraging them to pursue their dreams early on in life. 

“They are both conscientious students who are making their way through their first year of high school. They are both very nice guys,” Rich Kost, Carrillo and Hernandez’s AVID teacher, said.

Carrillo started his career at the age of 13. He was influenced by his accomplices, Hernandez and Brandon Magana, the latter of whom currently works at ART OF FADEZ. Carillo spent time watching Magana’s YouTube videos for advice, and Hernandez pushed for Carrillo to work and cut hair with him as well.

“First, I feel like I was scared of working people up and also scared of talking to more people…older people too…like what conversations am I gonna have with someone’s dad? Or how can someone with such an age gap have a conversation?” Carrillo said.

In January of this year, Carillo cranked out 85 cuts in just a month. He averaged 20 – 30 clients a week. His clients ranged in age, mostly male teens, but his designs vary per customer. Appointments have to be put in place on an app called Booksy at available times, and the setting takes place at Carrillo’s house. He charges his customers $15 per cut, and every cut is done with careful precision and care.

“If I don’t know them, or maybe they’re a new client, [the haircut] might take an hour. I take my time so I do it right,” Carrillo said.

But, there are also struggles that come with starting a business at such a young age. Carrillo feels like his small business has become a job, and it has: but sometimes, that job gets in the way of normal high school experiences.

“I feel like sometimes I don’t have a social life,” Carrillo said.

His parents, on the other hand, are stagnant on this issue. As time passed, Carrillo’s parents let him continue on doing whatever made him happy. 

“I mean my mom was supportive, but my dad, he wouldn’t care. He would just let me do my thing,” Carrillo said.

Although many see him as a successful entrepreneur, Carrillo has other goals in mind. 

“I plan on putting it here for a couple more years, but I also plan to get into real estate and get into equities and stuff and making money and getting enough money where I can stop working,” Carrillo said.

Even at such a young age, Carrillo  has his fair share of advice, particularly for his little brother, whom Carrillo hopes will not overcomplicate his goals if he decides to pursue his ambitions, as Carrillo did.

“Don’t overthink it because I feel like me starting out, I would overthink it a lot. It is a lot simpler than you think,” Carrillo said.

Both barbers laugh while they have a conversation in March 2024. (Photo by Alexa Morales)

Fellow barber Hernandez began his career even earlier than Carrillo did. As a 12-year-old, Hernandez spends his summers landscaping, and winters on the lawn shoveling off snow. It was during his time at school that the business really started.

“I sometimes do landscape in the summer and then in the winter I would go work out on the snow.”

Wanting to make sure the clients are comfortable is a top priority for Hernandez.

“I mean, I would consider myself like someone you could trust and talk to,” Hernandez said.

On an average week, Hernandez completes about 12-14 haircuts, 58 a month. He charges $20 per cut, based on demand and skill. Depending on the level of detail his client wants, he sets his appointments from 30 minutes to an hour per cut.

“Since I started, I would say I made maybe around five thousand,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez also carries a bit of dislike for the job though. He longs to spend time with friends, but sometimes the job just does not give him the time.

“Scheduling sometimes, you know, sometimes you just want to go out and like three people want haircuts and it’s like a drag sometimes,” Hernandez said.

The level of support his parents had given him was “neutral” as he would say. They did not pay much attention to his entrepreneurship, calling it a “little kid thing.”

“But I mean, I’ve been doing it almost every day for two years now,” Hernandez said.

Although he started off young, Hernandez plans on settling his life down by the age of 30. Once he has worked his finances out, he does not plan on doing much after retiring. 

“I’m going to continue cutting hair until I open my own barber shop, and then from there I’m gonna open multiple, and then I wanna stop cutting hair,” Hernandez said.

Much has been said about their work from clients. One client in particular is freshman Christopher Torres.

“I would rate them ten out of ten because they truly do care about their work, not only to make you look good, but to make you feel content and confident with a fresh cut,” Torres said.

The two boys are unsure what the future holds, but they know it will be filled with many challenges and much success. They have accomplished more than most freshmen at this point in time.

“I think they are amazing at what they do, and they deserve every penny for it,” Torres said.

 

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About the Contributors
Dania Cureno
Dania Cureno, Reporter
Even though Dania Cureno loves WEGO, she sees more opportunities in the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, as she would like to pursue something in the science and mathematics fields. As a freshman, Dania hopes to attend the prestigious school in the future. Dania likes playing soccer and has been actively involved in the sport since she was six years old; she is ready for the soccer season to begin in the spring. She also enjoys socializing with people, and describes herself as "funny, clumsy, oblivious, and naive."
Alexa Morales
Alexa Morales, Features Editor
Although Alexa is a senior at WEGO, she is the captain of the dance team. Something unique about Alexa is that she was an exchange student in France for a week and a half last spring. Alexa's favorite music artist at the moment is Lana Del Rey. Looking ahead into her future, Alexa is planning to go to college to be a nurse.
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