How One DC Area Barbershop Is Surviving the Pandemic
While clients yearn for a fresh cut, the barbers themselves are just trying to take things one day a time
For millions of Americans, taking a monthly — or even weekly — trip to the barber for a cut and shave is a necessity, as regular a part of their routine as heading to the grocery store or gym might. It’s also a place where conversation flows freely, jokes are shared and a community finds its roots.
But right now, every barbershop in America is on an indefinite hiatus.
With shelter-in-place orders now several weeks old, DC’s barbers, stylists and other personal care entrepreneurs are struggling. The number of known coronavirus cases in the District, Maryland and Virginia isn’t slowing, either, with the combined case number standing at 18,765 as of Thursday morning.
Each part of the DMV has its own set of rules and regulations, but Virginia’s shutdown of nonessential businesses will now extend until May 8, and Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order remains in place until June 10. This is bad news for anyone who needs a trim, and even worse news for those whose livelihoods depend on providing them.
“You know, it’s been crazy because people really, really want haircuts,” says Scott Parker, co-owner of the Bearded Goat Barbershop in Arlington. “We knew that they would be a little starved for cuts, but we didn’t know how bad it would be until a few weeks in. I mean people are constantly calling or sending messages, emails and contacting the barbers and asking for them to come do home cuts, or even offering to go to the barbers’ homes.”
At-home cuts are a service that Parker has reluctantly declined to protect the health of both his barbers and the customers they serve, opting instead to sell gift cards online that will be redeemable once the shop eventually reopens. He says that so far they’ve sold almost $15 thousand worth of the cards, of which all the profits have gone to his staff. Parker tells InsideHook that they’ve also been selling their own line of personal care products online, and that while the profits aren’t enough to pay the bills for barbers who perform up to 15 cuts or shaves per day, it’s at least provided some extra cash to bolster their unemployment checks.
Isolation Breeds Tragedy
Parker tells us that closing the doors to the shop has been quite a challenge from the beginning, and not only because the barbers need to make money. These are people who are used to spending the vast majority of their days on their feet, keeping busy and surrounding themselves with people to talk to, and for those struggling with mental-health issues or overcoming addiction, the self-isolation can be unbearable.
“We’ve already had quite a tragedy of our own — a barber who was in recovery from heroin addiction. He told us a couple times in the first few weeks, ‘It’s not good for me not being busy like this … not being able to work.’ We didn’t know just how bad it would be for him. He relapsed and got a bad batch and died,” says Parker.
Parker, a recovered alcoholic himself, understands just how vital social interaction can be for those suffering from addiction or depression. “He was a great guy. We lost a barber and a friend in the middle of all this on top of everything. It’s been quite a rough ride for our barbershop.”
Parker credits the “strong” and “amazing” community around his shop for helping his staff get through these extraordinary circumstances. He also tells us that Bearded Goat’s devoted following is a reflection of the skill of his barbers.
“It’s just one of those things … People who go to a barbershop regularly to stay fresh cannot learn how to cut their own hair overnight — it’s not going to happen. So it’s really a need that is almost impossible to fill without a barber, and it’s funny because you see all these pictures popping up on social media of guys who let their wife cut their hair or those who did it on their own,” jokes Parker. “It’s just a total shit show because the cuts that are coming out of this are crazy, and a bunch of guys now have shaved heads that didn’t have shaved heads before, because that’s the only way to make it look a little decent.”
Tips and Tricks to Help You Get Through Quarantine
Fortunately, Parker and his partner Jon Dodson have started to make videos with helpful tips on growing out your beard and shaping it into place on their Instagram, starting with a series on how to grow your beard from scratch.
“The most important advice I could give is to use beard oil after you get out of the shower and again in the afternoon or whenever it starts to feel dry or itchy,” Dodson recommends to InsideHook readers. “Our beard oils come in five different scent profiles that are subtle and moisturize both the skin and the facial hair. When applying, you want to make sure to rub the oils into the skin, and then make sure to run a comb through it. For longer beards, add some beard balm. It has our oil mixture as well as shea butter and beeswax to help soften and control the shape of the beard.”
Outline your beard first …
- First make a line from your sideburns to your mouth (upper lip, middle lip, below lip) with your comb as your guide.
- Create a line using a clipper, not a razor, first.
- While making your line, make sure to go upward, so your hand isn’t blocking your view of the beard.
- This all depends on the desired look, but a good rule of thumb is to start above the Adam’s Apple (1/4 or ½ inch).
- Use your comb to help create a straight line under your jaw line and use your trimmers downward to create the line.
- Repeat on both sides and double check your line by lifting your head up.
- Start by combing the hair down over your lip and cut whatever hangs below.
- If you are growing your beard out, just line it up and maybe trim the chop area (your upper cheeks to temples) to thin the face down.
Finding the right length …
- Start with a higher guard on your clippers always and go lower until you reach your desired length.
- Taper the sides by using your ears as guidelines.
- Shortest guard from first divot of ear up, then go two guards higher from bottom of ear up.
- Blend with a middle guard from above the bottom of the ear to just past the divot.
- Keep the chin area a little longer than the sides, but make sure it blends into the sides.
- For your mustache area, use clippers lengthwise to be able to get under your nose. You can also use shears to slightly trim hairs that are popping out.