Born in Morocco, where the barbering tradition goes back millennia, Abdel Majid El Idrissi brings a passion for his craft to the chair at 2BGroomed. A visual artist in addition to a tonsorial aesthete, “Majid” developed an affinity for the craft as a young man in the tiny, ancient town of Tiflet, about a quarter of the way from the capital, Rabat, to Fes.
“I had a friend who was a barber,” says Majid of his introduction to the profession through his friend Mohammed. “I used to hang out with him in his barber shop, at first just to talk, but after that I saw how he was working, how he was doing something professional with his hands—which is art.”
In 1992, Majid enrolled in barbering school in his hometown, all the while spending his free time watching Mohammed ply his craft. He’d help in the shop—sweeping, cleaning and observing—all in an effort to learn the ropes. He spent two years at Tiflet’s barbering school before he began cutting hair with a friend. A few years later, a new school opened in town and Majid was enlisted to helped teach Tiflet’s aspiring barbers his craft. In 1996, Majid opened his own shop, and in 2007, he moved to the Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he worked as a machine operator. In 2010, while visiting Morocco, his cousin recommended he move to Philadelphia. After spending eight months at University City’s Joseph Anthony Hair Salon, Majid came to work for Jahmal Rhaney at 2BGroomed.
“What drew me to him,” says Rhaney, “was passion, a tremendous amount of passion. Where there’s passion, there’s usually talent.”
A painter and wood carver in addition to his role as a member of the 2BGroomed team, Majid brings his aesthetic gifts to his work. Majid’s first priority is to make his customer happy; if you’ve got a style in mind, Majid will execute it with precision. Majid feels the ultimate barber-customer experience is when the customer finds a barber he’s comfortable enough with to let him call the shots.
“I like to give my client my ideas for their hairstyle,” says Majid. “If he doesn’t like my idea, we’ll do what he wants. Some clients give you the ball to shoot. That’s when I feel happiest, because it means he trusts me.”
Trust is a big part of the Moroccan barbering tradition. According to Majid, as a youngster he was terrified of his father’s barber friend: Barbers in Morroco did a whole lot more than cut hair—they performed minor surgery, bloodletting and even circumcision. “Every time he came to my house I wouldn’t talk,” laughs Majid. “I wouldn’t even show myself to him because I was scared. He was the one who cut my…”
Of course, that’s a far cry from the modern barbering tradition Majid learned and practices at 2BGroomed. At the first shop he owned in Morocco, Majid would bring his art to work, and would paint between customers. “I really enjoyed giving [customers] my time and sharing with them my art,” says Majid. “The thing that I love is making my customers happy, not just for the money, but it helps me to share with them my art.”