With age, comes a new appreciation for some of the things we may have dreaded as children. This can include naps, documentaries or the freedom of creating our own style. Since there are multiple options of where to go for a haircut in Ashland and the choice doesn’t belong to your mother dragging you behind, it’s imperative that the barber or stylist make the client feel as at home as possible.
While student Rickie Jin’s makeshift barber shop might lack some amenities seen in traditional shops, like a barber’s pole or television playing SportsCenter, the 22-year-old provides a personal comfort to clients who keep returning for cuts.
The living room of the on-campus suite is bare with only one couch, one coffee table, and one chair reserved for those coming in to visit the shop.
On the table, Rickie has a trunk with all of his equipment set up which includes, among other tools, multiple sets of clippers and brushes for different styles. With the windows open, he also plays music from his phone which adds to the laid back vibe in the dorm. Today, Kanye West’s new album, The Life of Pablo, fills the room along with natural sunlight.
Rickie is a business major in his first year at Southern Oregon University, but his path to becoming a barber goes as far back as his high school days when he was cutting his and his friends hair in the bathroom of his parents house.
“When you start out, you probably got some clippers from Walmart and you’re cutting your own hair in the mirror,” said Rickie. After practicing on himself for a few weeks, he convinced one of his friends to let him cut his hair. Rickie laughed remembering this and said, “I may have messed up a little on him.”
But he didn’t let that first uneven job deter him. As the years went on, mistakes became less frequent and more people wanted Rickie cuts. His freshman year at Southwest Community College, he was responsible for giving everyone on his baseball team trims, including the coach. He realized when he returned back to Seattle that becoming a barber was his passion and began spending every afternoon in his local shop, observing and learning from the man who Rickie trusted to cut his hair, “Boun”.
At Boun’s shop Rickie learned a variety of styles and how to work with different types of hair. After a year and a half of asking questions, observing Boun’s work and watching countless hours of YouTube videos, Rickie was permitted to cut in the shop.
Since coming to SOU, he’s had little problem building up clientele with classmates making appointments by text and giving him a donation once they’re satisfied.
“My teammate came to practice with a nice cut and I asked him where he got it,” said Cedric Quartey while getting trimmed up in the living room. Quartey, a member of the school track and field team, isn’t the only word-of-mouth visitor that Rickie has brought in. The accessibility of an on-campus barber and comfort of a fellow classmate providing the service seems to be working in his favor. The only problem currently is finding time to schedule in everyone who wants to get a haircut.
“On days that I don’t have class or homework I try to get six people in,” Rickie said, “I get regulars returning about every two or three weeks, though, so it works out.”
Taking classes as a business major is beneficial to Rickie’s dream of owning his own shop one day. While learning different styles and techniques of cutting hair takes enough time, the understanding of owning and running a business is what Rickie wants to put his degree towards.
Business, numbers and profits aside, it’s the actual act of cutting hair and being able to make someone look good that keeps Rickie going in his barber’s career. “It makes me happy knowing that someone can feel confident about themselves after a simple haircut. Because truthfully, a haircut can make a huge difference.”