Jonathan Kalonji, also known as Bestest, is a barber, educator and entrepreneur from Belgium who moved to the United States when he was 18 years old. For him everything started when he started cutting her.
When he was a child, Jonathan’s uncle used to cut his hair. But after he turned 13, he felt confident enough to cut his own hair. Little by little, he started getting practice and getting better.
“When I was 13, I told my mother that I thought I could cut my hair. So I did. She thought it was a little short, but good enough, so she asked me to cut my little brother’s hair.” Jonathan recounts.
Having his mother’s approval and seeing that his work was not bad, he started giving haircuts to other family members and to his friends and acquaintances in his neighborhood.
When Jonathan was 17, he started working in the only barbershop in his hometown Mons in Belgium. At that time, barber shops were not as popular as beauty salons. But working there helped him improve his haircuts and get more experience and know-how to deal with different types of haircuts.
“Working in a barbershop was a great experience because I learned to be more professional and to deal with different types of customers. I was paid very poorly. I only kept 40% of my haircuts in my pocket, which was $4 per cut. But as an apprentice, the important thing was the experience.” Jonathan shares.
After a while, Jonathan decided to travel to Brussels where there were eight barber shops close to each other. Once there, he felt people thought he was not going to last because he was not good enough. But they were wrong because not only did he stay but also he discovered something that he used to his advantage.
“I quickly realized that no one was doing hair design, they were just doing ‘normal’ haircuts. I decided to start doing designs and take pictures of them to advertise them. That helped me build a reputation and make a name for myself in the area. After a few months in Brussels, I decided to take my talents to the United States, as I knew the barbering culture much better there. More appreciation for the work, more money, more tips, people getting more frequent haircuts, more room for growth in general.He says.
Today, Jonathan is a barber, educator, and entrepreneur with many years of experience. He is considered one of the leaders in the industry and he teaches barbers from all over the world the different techniques of hair cutting as well as tips about the business side of barbering.
Jonathan is also the designer and creator of a revolutionary product, Bestest Mirror, which consists of a three-way mirror with LED lights and stand which is designed to give people a 360-degree view of their head.
“Our customers get haircuts, touch up their edges between barbershop visits, apply makeup, color their hair, braid, etc… It’s the ultimate three-way mirror for DIY experiences.” He explains.
One of the reasons Jonathan created Bestest Mirror was the fact that many people always find themselves with the difficulty or perhaps discomfort of cutting their hair with one hand while holding a mirror with the other.
“I always thought something had to be created to solve these problems, but I never thought other people had the same problems. After a while, I decided to come up with a solution to this problem, and so I designed and manufactured the Bestest Mirror. I had a million ideas that I shared with everyone and people gave me feedback. When I came up with this one, the response from the people around me was different. There was unusual enthusiasm around the three-way mirror on a tripod and that was a big plus for me, a few cheers, and I just felt it was the right time to start an adventure with bees.” Jonathan adds.
Jonathan’s upcoming projects include developing his brand on a larger scale, adding more items to the store and producing a documentary about his life and journey, which will probably be ready in 2022. Follow Jonathan here.