Taras Krivosh, 17, of Milnerton, has become a social-media sensation and is known as the School Barber after setting up a little barber shop in the boys’ bathroom at Milnerton High School.
Taras, who is originally from the Ukraine, linked up with a local barber in 2015 who was a student in his mom’s Ukrainian and Russian language classes.
He was invited to a barbering course where he learned the basics of cutting hair and how to use the clippers and trimmers properly.
With those skills in the bag, Taras thought of cutting hair as “just another hobby”. But when the Covid-19 pandemic sent the country into lockdown in 2020, barbers had to close their doors and Taras was the only person many in his community could rely on.
When the lockdown regulations were lifted and barbers could trade again, while schools remained closed, Taras started working at a barber shop in the CBD where he served coffee to clients and swept up hair.
But Taras says that during his time there he “stole ideas with the eye” and started practising on his friends.
He brought his equipment to school and noticed that a classmate’s hair looked bushy and untrimmed, so he volunteered to give him a new look.
“We went to the boys’ bathroom during break, and I cut his hair, and the next thing I knew there was a massive crowd around me.”
Taras says teachers were resistant at first but were later happy to have their hair done by him too because he agreed that it would not interfere with schoolwork.
He cut the boys’ hair during break, and, instead of charging them, he would make a “lunch deal” or ask to be invited for dinner.
Taras has gained just over 500 000 followers on TikTok, with some videos having more than 19 million views.
In the introduction to all of his videos, Taras greets his viewers with the words, “What’s up, my beautiful people?” He says he wants to make people feel good about themselves.
“I always aim to spread positivity through my videos and when cutting hair,” he says.
Taras’s videos include having a barber chair and trimmers in extraordinary places such as the beach, and he can even be seen cutting hair while flying in a twin-seat aeroplane.
Taras says critics have pointed out that he is “not a great barber, or “does not do a good job” but he is undaunted.
“They hate us because they ain’t us,” he says.
During the December school holidays, Taras will be visiting Europe where he will find different locations to cut hair, he says.
Recently Taras was elected to be part of the leadership council at his school.
Milnerton High School headmaster Paul Besener, who has gone under Taras’s trimmers, says if any of his pupils are “good at something and passionate about it”, he will encourage them.
A neat haircut is part of the “uniform rule” at the school, he adds.
“Ultimately, this fits in with the ethos of the school. They look neat and lovely because he does a good job.”