Following in his mother’s hair cutting and teaching career path, Ben Rios Lopez is pursuing a role at Sunnyside Academy Barber and Cosmetology School, which transforms personal style with a cutting-edge smile.

The Class of 2020 SHS graduate began working on his barber license about one month ago while balancing his working duties as an administrative specialist at the downtown school, 519 S. 6th St.

“Transforming people’s hair and making them smile when they leave the chair, it’s just a pure pleasure,” Rios expressed. “Now days, a quality haircut makes a big difference in your style.”

Barber and cosmetology students are able to demonstrate the techniques they are being taught by academy owner Blanca Rios Lopez and teacher Linda Gonzalez to the public on free haircut Wednesday and Thursday’s, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Blanca Rios Lopez is a former stylist who has been cutting hair and operating her successful Sunnyside business for the past 20 years, prior to starting the school in Nov. of 2018.

Gomez helped Rios Lopez start her salon business back in 2001 and the two have maintained a strong and lasting bond within the hair care services industry serving the Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities areas.

The 18-year-old aspiring barber grew up and was immersed in his mother’s business, Rios Lopez said. After graduation, the 4.0 student considered attending college, however, he made the decision to pursue a profession that provides the patron with an individual lifestyle benefit.

“People’s confidence grows when they receive a nice haircut. And that was more appealing to me than becoming something else, he mused. “It’s something I like doing. Maybe it was just meant to be.”

His barber license will take about eight to 10 months to obtain. In the meantime, Rios Lopez appreciates learning the artisan craft from his mom and cherishes the experience to see her teach others.

“To see the things, she knows and the way she teaches is just awesome,” he proudly acknowledged.

Attending the school also facilitates the goal of building working relationships, which will last beyond their academy instruction, according to Rios Lopez.

Once students earn their license, they’re able to utilize the school’s networking connections to advance their professional ambitions forward, he explained.

Back in high school, he would cut friend’s hair for fun. They would frequently ask him to show them how to cut hair, he described

The barber student added, “After I get my license, I want to become an instructor as well and to teach like my mom.”

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.