With so many barbershops around the city of New York, Strickly Skillz Barbershop has set the standard of what a barbershop should be. It's the place where you can get a fresh cut and relax among friends. Sam Sneed turned an empty space, once destroyed by fire in the heart of the neighborhood where he grew up, into a money-making machine. Strickly Skillz is more than just your typical barbershop because Sam and his team of barbers, who include younger brother and business partner Zanu,take the art of barbering with a seriousness that keeps their doors revolving until after midnight, six days a week.
Theskilled barbers have adapted a lifelong motto: "Work Hard, Play Harder." They give 100 percent of themselves to their craft and their reputation, therefore, they reward themselves handsomely as a team. Strickly Skillzis more than a barbershop. It's the place where an older brother can set an example for his younger brother, as well as provide an opportunity for him to shine; it's a place where a young, cocky barber can spread his wings. It's a place where women can come get their sons' hair cut, while watching the view of man-candy working the chair. It's a place where the female clientele is in as high numbers as men clientele. Where a rapper, NBA player, or a NFL star can come chill without the hounding of celebrity life. The highly lauded shop has even landed its own reality TV show titled "Strickly Skillz: ThaLife."
Thebrothers of Strickly Skillz not only set a reputation as two of the best barbers in Queens and in all of New York, they are also known for having two of the best tattooed bodies in the area. The brothers have taken their tattoo game to new levels - from Sam's first tattoo as a junior in high school to Zanu's first tattoo decision as a college student.
Collectively,the brothers have spent $20,000 making their bodies works of art. "One of my favorite tattoos has to be my neck tattoo because I can be fully clothed and you can still see my tattoos; when people see your neck tattoo they assume you're tatted up," says Sam of his body of work. Zanu expressed that,"My favorite tattoo is the one I have of a football and a basketball player complemented with clippers because those are the three things I do best in my life." With his last tattoo done just a month ago, Zanu has officially retired from tattooing, stating that he has expressed all his thoughts through his ink and there is no more room left to tattoo.
Between the two, Zanu has more tattoos, including two very meaningful tattoos - an entire back piece of a portrait of his mother and himself as a child that reads, "Esmeralda's Baby Bwoy," and a leg tattoo that symbolizes the bond he shares with his older brother, Sam, that reads: "I AM MY BROTHER'S KEEPER TIL I DIE." The brothers also share matching tattoos of a Grim Reaper; in the hand of the Reaper is a pair of clippers for Sam and a footballfor Zanu. To them this means that Sam is killing the game of barbering and Z the game of football.
The brothers express their love for their Hanover,Jamaica, roots with various symbols of Jamaica- from the flag to the Jamaican national bird. They also pay homage to their great city of New York with the infamous New York Yankees' "NY" logo to detailed New York skylines, all the way down to Zanu's impressive adaptation of the Statue of Liberty on his right leg. The brother shave displayed every aspect of their lives in the form of tattoos, ranging from Zanu's love for sports to Sam's barbershop scene tattooed on his stomach.
They credit their amazing works of art to Tattoo Wiz in Paterson New Jersey, Made Rich of Think Before You Ink, and The Ink Masters of New York. For celebrity master barbers Sam Sneed and Zanu, tattoos represent who they are,and their barbershop represents their hard work and dedication to the art of barbering. Some people hang their art on the wall; Sam Sneed and Z Da Great wear their artwork on their bodies. If barbering is what they do, tattooing is what they love.
Follow Samand Zanu on Instagram: @samsneed1 and @Z_Da_Great1
Photography by Jonavennci Divad (jonavenncidivad.com)
Article by Bella Jones