January Fonseca-Sabune has worked many jobs, but it was only after she attended cosmetology school that she realized her true calling.

“I was going to do hair coloring, but I fell in love with the barbering curriculum, especially the history of it and how important it is for the community,” she said. “Women’s hair was just not for me.”

She made the right choice. Since she graduated fromĀ Empire Beauty School in Bloomfield in 2013, Fonseca-Sabune started as a receptionist at a barber shop, then worked as a barber in West Orange and then, finally, ended up cutting hair at Vinny’s in Montclair. Last July, she bought Vinny’s and changed the name to January’s Barbershop. She is the first female to own a barbershop in Montclair.

Fonseca-Sabune has a real love of the craft and two years ago began competing in barber competitions. Since then, she has won second place at the Connecticut Barber Expo, third place at The Universal Barber Show in Atlantic City, and first place at the International Beauty Show barber competition in New York.

“I’m always looking at how to improve,” she said. “I am constantly trying to stay on top of trends and haircutting education and the competitions are a great way for me to sharpen my skills.”

The contestants in a barber competition are judged on whether the haircuts are done properly and efficiently, but also on cleanliness and scissor work. Fonseca-Sabune uses these same skills in her everyday work. Her people skills are also winning.

“I am good with people and I am to please,” she said. “I have a diverse clientele and I tailor each service to each person’s needs. If someone’s not happy I really take it seriously.”

January’s Barbershop is at 55 N. Fullerton and is open every day but Monday and Sunday.