A cut above: Local barber featured in documentary on facial hair | TheUnion.com

A cut above: Local barber featured in documentary on facial hair

Barber Wes Gibson, who owns the shop “Wes the Barber” in Grass Valley, was recently featured in a documentary on Amazon Prime called “Beards: The Rise of Facial Hair.” The documentary is about how keeping and caring for beards has become big lately, which Gibson says tends to come back in style now and then in cycles.
Elias Funez
Barber Wes Gibson and his Grass Valley shop are featured in the Amazon Prime documentary “Beards: The Rise of Facial Hair,” a copy of which sits on display in Gibson’s South Auburn Street shop.
Elias Funez
Wes the Barber works on a customer’s hair last year when indoor hair appointments were still allowed.
Elias Funez
Wes Gibson works on a man’s haircut in his South Auburn Street shop last year when indoor hair appointments were still allowed.
Elias Funez

Barber Wes Gibson, and his Grass Valley shop Wes the Barber, were featured in a documentary called “Beards: The Rise of Facial Hair,” which focused on facial hair as a rising trend.

Gibson, who has worked as a barber for over five years, said that, alongside other varieties of hairstyle, beards cycle in and out of popularity — and that, in recent years, they’re in.

He said he received an initial request to film for the documentary in November 2019. The filming took place soon afterward, and the documentary was made available through Amazon Prime Video last year.

“It was fun, and I think they did a good job,” said Gibson, on the filming experience. “I’m happy they didn’t embarrass me.”

Including Gibson’s, three barbershops are featured in the documentary, the other two located in Roseville and Oregon.

Rick Wallen, director and editor of the documentary, said the idea to pursue this topic came when he did some research on generational differences in facial hair preferences — the 1950s, for example, being a popular time to be clean-shaven — and in particular, his perception that beards have been gaining popularity in the last 15 years.

Wallen, who is from Auburn, said he was interested in filming at Gibson’s barbershop in particular because it was local to him.

“I like to use local companies to be, you could say, marketed through our films by having a little bit of light shined on their business while we interview or do filming within that company,” said Wallen.

“Supporting local business is a big reason why we did this, and we continue to do that and try to illuminate local companies that provide good services for the people in the area,” he said.

He said Gibson confirmed in a pre-filming conversation that the topic fit with what he has seen from his clients, who he said ranged from older men with “long, gray ZZ Top-style beards” to a distinctly different style in the 20- to 35-year-old age range.

Wallen spent a few days filming, talking to Gibson about his work, and to his clients about how long they’ve had beards, the growing trend, and what their partners thought of the style choice.

“It felt like a really down-home place that was open to whatever might be happening,” said Wallen, recounting visiting the shop. “It seemed like just a place everybody went to hang out, so that feeling was a really good feeling for us to go in and film as well.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.

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