By Carlos Padilla
Ivan Padilla. If you’ve lived in Sierra County any longer than a few months, you’ve likely heard his name. Within your first year, if you haven’t met the man or know someone who has, you may be living a somewhat sheltered existence.
Ivan has been a fixture locally for decades. He’s touched the lives of many, as a friend as well as a businessman, a source for news and happenings taking place in our corner of the world, conversations on politics in the local and national arenas, and the latest on the Tigers of Hot Springs High School, all while doling out some great haircuts.
Ivan began his career in hair in Anthony, Texas, in 1960 at Young’s Barber Shop, after earning his license in Texas, working for a man Ivan describes as “an old guy – like I am now, I guess,” he says with his signature smirking and generous smile. At Young’s, Ivan says the Texas-New Mexico state line ran right through the building – with a barber shop located on one side, and a bar on the other.
In time, Ivan earned a barber’s license for New Mexico and moved to Las Cruces, where he went to work at the Top Head Barbershop for five years. Ivan bought a barber shop in partnership – the Time Saver Barber Shop – in the late ‘60s.
Ivan took classes from famed hairstylist Jay Sebring in Los Angeles – famous for being the founder of the hairstyling corporation Sebring International – the Paul Mitchell of his time. Mr. Sebring and Vidal Sassoon were partners in the 1960s. Shortly after Ivan attended classes with Sebring, Sebring was murdered, a victim of the Charles Manson group who went on killing spree in Los Angeles in the late ‘60s.
It was there that Ivan says he learned the art of properly framing a face with hairstyle.
Ivan opened a Sebring International shop in Albuquerque then in El Paso in 1969 or 1970, eventually owning four barbershops in El Paso and locations in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. “At one time, I had 38 people working under me,” Ivan says.
After Mr. Sebring’s murder, the Sebring International empire began to fade. That’s when Ivan says he and three others started California Concepts. Ivan eventually sold his interest in the venture in late 1979, and in 1980, returned to Truth or Consequences, where he opened Ivan’s International.
Ivan has since been in the same location for the past 35 years. In all, he has been cutting and styling hair for an astounding 54 years.
When asked, Ivan confides that he doesn’t care for the “fade” haircut. “Hair is supposed to frame the face,” Ivan states, adding that he doesn’t like the “fade” style, as it doesn’t compliment anyone’s facial features. In fact, Ivan has refused to perform that particular hairstyle, which features a shaved head on the sides.
“Barbers have a responsibility to change people’s minds,” Ivan says, “from getting a bad haircut.”
“Ivan is very good with people,” says Susan McNutt, who has worked with Ivan for several years. “They enjoy him.”
“And I’ve enjoyed every moment of this business,” Ivan adds.
“I have worked in hair for 19 years,” says Susan. “I’ve learned a lot in the 10 years I’ve been here with Ivan. It has been the best experience.”
Ivan’s International is definitely a business – a successful business – but anyone who has ever walked in to the business will attest that it feels more like walking into a home. The sense of family is abundantly apparent from the moment one walks into Ivan’s.
In fact, Susan – who’s son, Brandon, is the newest barber working at Ivan’s International – says that Ivan walked her down the aisle at her wedding a few years ago.
“How you treat people is 85 percent of this business,” Ivan states out loud. “Fifteen percent is cutting hair.”
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