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The relationship between hair and identity cannot be downplayed. In more ways than one, our hair is one of the most descriptive things about us—it shows when we’re tired, when we’re in the zone, when we’re enjoying ourselves, when we’ve had a busy day, when we’ve had a bad day…

Perhaps most importantly, our hair has the ability to change the energy of its wearer for the better, to imbue them with a confidence that allows them to tackle the day ahead with positivity, because when you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you do good. It is this very transformative nature of hair that renowned hairstylist Mark Bustos deals in, but he takes this passion one step further.

For nearly a decade, Bustos has taken his skillset to the streets, providing free haircuts to the homeless and disenfranchised not only is his city of New York, but all around the world. Having cut hair in some of the most prestigious salons in the Big Apple, Mark truly distinguishes himself as an individual who is able to check his ego at the door and treat everyone with the same level of respect.

Being able to utilize your craft to uplift and inspire is a feat we should all be itching to accomplish. Find something you love doing as much as Mark Bustos and you’ll never work a day in your life. We had the chance to sit down with him to talk kindness, identity, and growth—read below.

If you were a plant, what plant would you be and why?

I’d be that annoying weed that you can’t get rid of. The one that grows between the cracks in the most uncommon area. The weed that flowers shortly after growing through the impossible. Why? Because I’ve learned that beauty lies everywhere. Growth happens when you don’t ever quit and persevere even when something stands in your way.

One of the most moving stories your’ve experienced during your travels?

If I have to share one, I’d have to say when I met Jemar Banks in NYC. He was a homeless man whose hair I had the honor of cutting in Chrystie Park. When I was done with his haircut, I handed him a mirror to show him how he looked. The first words that came out of his mouth were, “Do you know anyone that’s hiring, I want to get a job.” I’ve never seen him again after that, which I see as a good thing. 

Your most recent oHHo moment? (where you felt happy, calm, stress free…) 

Going away—off the grid for a weekend, spending time with family. At the end of it all, family is all we have.   

Who or what influenced you to start #BeAwesometoSomebody?

Travel. Being exposed to real poverty in a developing country opened my eyes to how fortunate and blessed I really am—knowing I have a skill to share with another human being to simply make them happy. My goal is to continue to inspire others to find what they do best and share it with others. 

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

You’re either expensive or free, but never cheap. 

What role does experience play in your business philosophy?  

Experience plays a huge role in business. My business philosophy is all about growth—for myself and for all those who work with me. 

The 2 businesses I have are actually named after plants. My first salon I opened is called the Silver Vine Room; Silver to describe second place, like the Olympics—gold, silver & bronze. I always say it’s more beneficial to always put yourself in second place because you will always leave room for growth. You’ll always have that one person to chase, and always have at least one person in the room that inspires you. Once you’re in first place, it’s time to move on and surround yourself with other

 people that are smarter and better than you. Vines grows uncontrollably…The Silver Vine Room. 

My other salon is called My Darling Ivy. Ivy is also very resilient, but still needs to be watered and taken care of. 

One simple way to spread kindness and positivity?  

Whatever it is you decide to do to spread kindness and positivity, do it with a pure heart.  

Daily wellness practice and/or mantra? 

To find something to do for myself..anything unrelated to work.  

What do you think the correlation is between hair and identity? 

Hair and identity go hand in hand. We all know how a good hair style can make us feel. We also know how a bad hairstyle can make us feel. And for those that wear their hair for certain religious beliefs or practices, that also says a whole lot about their identity.

Every morning we carefully put our clothes on without trying to wrinkle or crease the fabric. Once our day gets started, life happens. By the end of the day when we are ready to change, every wrinkle, every crease, every stain, and every scent in our clothes tells the story of our day. 

I believe hair is very similar, the only difference is we wear it everyday and can’t always just take it off. Sometimes getting a haircut to start fresh, start new—to cut off all the bad energy we may have experienced in that time frame that we wore that hair—is all we need to find ourselves again. 

2020 is the year you…

Recharge, Reset, Re-evaluate.