Skilled to Work: Keith Longoria

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 3:04 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A local veteran is turning a hobby into a new profession, thanks to training he recently finished at Savannah Tech.

“It’s one of those things you gotta get used to ya know.”

In his fourth week on the job, barber Keith Longoria settling in to work at Savannah’s Traditional Barber Shop.

“I appreciate you giving me a shot man.”

While he’s navigating new surroundings, he’s right at home with clippers in his hand.

“I did my first year getting haircuts on post the normal like every soldier and I was always unhappy with my haircuts. So I was real particular about my hair and after 1998 I bought my first set of clippers.”

For the next two decades, the US Army vet cut his own hair... and anyone else willing to sit in the chair.

“Once I got comfortable, I started, you know, reaching out to people, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind, I’ll give you a free haircut.’ Some of my soldiers, friends, and then it started to be their kids.”

When he retired after 22 years in the Army as a systems administrator, Longoria decided to turn a hobby into something more.

He landed at Savannah Tech, enrolling in the barbering program with instructor Joycelin Primus.

“She’d just won an award for being the top instructor. I was set and also had a few of the stylists and stuff around town that I you know, met and kind of just reaching out to told me this is where you want to go.”

The self-taught stylist says the skills he learned in the 14-month program took his game to a new level.

“Haircuts just got better, my skills got better and then I was able to put all those skills to the test in the competitions.”

Longoria won gold at a Georgia skills competition and took silver in the nationals earlier this year.

“It was a passion, and once I knew I could get my education and actually become a professional, not just self taught, that I was more focused. More driven, more determined to try and be the best barber I can, you know.”