Wade Menendez saw how bald or thinning spots were being filled with hair when he was watching another barber work with dreadlocks. He knew instantly how beneficial that could be for his clients with thinning hair, so he tried his hand at doing weaves for men. Then, word spread.
GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) — The work of a popular barber has generated quite the buzz online. That’s because Wade Menendez isn’t just known for his crisp haircuts, but the hair he adds to make them.
That’s right. Menendez installs hair weaves for men.
For clients at the W Hair Loft in Glen Burnie, one of two shops owned by Menendez, it is a place where customers can be themselves. A complete judge-free zone. It is the type of atmosphere that clients like Samuel Smith really appreciate.
“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you have someone to go to out there,” said Smith about Menendez, who makes him feel like a new person every time he gets his hair done.
For two years now, Smith has struggled with hair loss. He can’t help it. It’s hereditary. In fact two-thirds of American men experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 35. By the age of 50, 85 percent will see their hair thinning, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
“I’m big on my appearance,” Smith said.
“I feel like first impressions are last impressions.”
“Even if it’s a job interview, even if it’s going out, hanging out with friends and everything, you look at them and you say ‘ok, God, she’s gorgeous, he’s gorgeous with a full head of hair,” said Smith during a moment of deep reflection while sitting in Menendez’s chair.
“You’re sitting there and everything with this Bigen thing trying to look your best and stay confident.”
Before Smith found Menendez through a friend, he tried everything including Bigen–an inky black dye that is brushed on the scalp.
“It would bother me,” Smith said.
“I kept saying I’ve got to do something about this.”
“I would look in the mirror and I would see it getting thinner and I would do the Bigen thing, try to make it as dark as possible.”
Smith’s world changed when he found Menendez, who installs human hair on men and women. Then, shapes it up. He does beards too.
“God didn’t put me in this position for myself, but to motivate and inspire other people,” said Menendez, who has clients fly in from as far as the UK, Belgium and Paris.
“I’ve always had clients who were losing their hair so, I knew there was a need, and I wanted to be that guy that could bring confidence.”
Menendez, who teaches other barbers and cosmetologists how to install weaves for men, got the idea five years ago from a loctician, a stylist who does dreadlocks, at the shop.
He saw how bald or thinning spots were being filled with hair. He knew instantly how beneficial that could be for his clients, so he tried and perfected it. Then, word spread.
He has 102,000 followers on instagram. He said clients have nearly been in tears when he is done with their hair.
Smith, who is thinning on top of his head and balding in the back, tells WUSA9 he feels amazing every time Menendez is finished.
“They can’t stop looking in the mirror, they’re so happy,” said Menendez about clients who have cried or come close to tears.”
They’re getting jobs, they’re getting girls,” he laughed.
“They’re getting more attention from it, so it’s dope, it’s dope.”
“It makes me feel like I’m fulfilling my destiny and my purpose,” Menendez said.
Menendez has been a master barber for 15 years. He started cutting his own hair when he was 12 years old.
He took his craft a step further and became certified as a hair loss specialist after seeing what his mother went through with stage four beast cancer just over six years ago.
Her hair fell out in clumps. It was devastating. He said one day she asked him to cut the rest of her hair off. It was a moment he will never forget.
“That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” he said.
“I’m nearly in tears cutting her hair. I thank God she is still with us.”
So, how does Menendez work his magic?
If clients want a fade, he starts with a trim, shape up, then outline of where the hair unit will go. He asks them to grow their hair out as much as possible before they come in.
From there, the process is top secret.
WUSA9 could not capture it on-camera because he teaches classes. He said it would not be fair to those learning.
Once the hair was installed on Smith’s head, the cameras were rolling again. Smith had hair installed on the top and crown of his head. It was a complete transformation. He loved it.
“It feels amazing,” Smith said.”
Every time I get it done, it knocks off some years.” The units range between $200 and $650. Menendez has all textures. The hair pieces can last up to six months. However, clients should come in once a month for maintenance.
“It makes me feel like I’m fulfilling my purpose, when I see that,” said Menendez when he finished Smith’s hair and saw his reaction.
“Knowing that I was able to make a difference and help somebody for real.”
Wade plans to open more shops in cities and other countries. He is working on going to Nigeria. He has a large following from there and a lot of requests.
Wade owns a second shop in Hyattsville, Md. He is in Glen Burnie Mondays-Thursdays and Hyattsville on Fridays. He goes to both locations on Saturdays.