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The Distinct Ant in The Shop

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The Distinct Ant in The Shop

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The Shop only does walk in haircuts, catering to people short on time or trying to get a last minute haircut.

I have walked into The Shop on a crisp Wednesday afternoon, as I walk in, I see a waiting space on my left and a row of chairs to the right. Each chair is marked above by a lamp linked to the ceiling by two old rusty gears. In the back left of the shop, there is an area designated exclusively for toddlers and younger children filled with toys and picture books. As I look around, the distinct design of The Shop is immediately noticeable. Old Western style Posters of possible haircuts and beard trims scatter the front desk, and the massive California flag painted on the ceiling attracts attention instantly. Past the front desk is a rack of various hair products and a brick wall distinguishing itself from the plethora of colors coating The Shop.

I’m here to meet with Elaina. Manager of The Shop for the past two years and one of many female barbers at The Shop defying the stereotype that a barber must be male.  She has dark, black hair, wears black rimmed glasses, and is painted with tattoos on her right arm, on her left, only a barber pole is presented. As she greets me I’m met with a smile and “I’m sorry, I was with a client”. Sincerity is instantly noticeable in her delivery, a feature contrasting the stereotypes of someone who ’d usually have tattoos. A basic feature taught and embedded in our minds by our parents.

 

Elaina’s mom continues to have a profound impact on Elaina’s life, fueling her love for horseback riding and any future tattoos.

Growing up in Sebastapol, Elaina was raised by a single mom. “She has a huge part of how I was raised”. Elaina’s mom was set on making sure that Elaina knew she could accomplish anything as long as she put her mind to it. Raising Elaina on her own while also taking care of horses, their house, and working, this idea of hard work and dedication were instilled in Elaina by these actions. Unfortunately, they were taxing on her mom and Elaina became the only person that Elaina’s mom could vent to when she would experience stressful times. Elaina saw her struggles, downfalls, breakdowns, and yet, this made Elaina look at her mom in a more positive light, look at her as a single mom just trying to do the best she can for her daughter. “It was hectic and stressful and super hard work, but I think it brought my mom and I closer together.”

 

Starting out as an aspiring cosmetologist, Elaina always wanted to work in the fashion industry or do special effects in movies. When Elaina was a kid she would experiment on her younger sister to see her proficiency with makeup. Eventually, this carried over into her later life as she worked to major in cosmetology. While in the midst of gaining her major Elaina started working at The Shop as an apprentice to one of the barbers. She became interested in the idea of becoming a Barber herself but was unsure if it would be the right decision. The fear of not being able to apply herself long term with barbering scared her. So she went to her mom for help, hoping to gain some wisdom from the experiences she has had in the workforce. “My mom told me to do a lot of research and go into salons and talk to them and figure out exactly why I wanted to be a barber. My mom has me think everything out first.” Eventually, Elaina made the decision that she wanted to dual license in cosmetology and barbering.

While attending a barbering class with her some of her friends, they decided to go and visit another friend who was a tattoo artist. The friend’s shop was placed next to the building that they had their barbering class in. While visiting their friends shop one person in the group offered up an idea, “we have some time to kill why don’t we get tattoos?” Since they were all aspiring barbers they decided to get something that would resemble their passion.  And thus Elaina only has one tattoo on her left arm, a barbers pole.

Elaina started taking care of her own when she was four years old.

In the beginning, Elaina wasn’t sure what to think of tattoos. Elaina would want her mom to cover up her tattoos in public so as not to be embarrassed. Yet, as Elaina grew older she saw them as a form of expression and began to get a few of her own. “Ya, I think I have more than my mom now.” One tattoo that stands out among the rest, is of a horse. Elaina has always felt, “super small, I don’t think I stand out at all. I feel like an ant.” The horse is a contradiction of those thoughts and empowers Elaina to not feel so small. Hearing her describe the power and incredible beauty of the horse, a sense of passion and admiration become evident, enabling her to bring out her best self and enjoy life for what it is.

 

Elaina’s sociable personality and passion for barbering fit the aura of The shop perfectly; the artistry of barbering comes naturally to her. Elaina is able to converse with clients about the daily struggles and triumphs of life, “It’s really cool to see what people are willing to tell me and open up to me about” As well as uphold her role as manager of The Shop. She caters to her customers as much as possible and manages to spark intriguing and interesting conversation while giving a killer haircut. Tightly cut sides, a clean fade up the middle, no shelf. She uses scissor combs to take the weight out of the hair without sacrificing looks. While juggling her responsibilities as a barber, she also manages to maintain a fascinating conversation with her patrons. Some come to her to vent, others come to hear her story. She’s the kind of barber that draws her customers not only with stellar haircuts but with the inherent promise of profound conversation and the company of a truly interesting person. “You know, I’m forced to talk to people and I think it brings out the best in me.”

Generally, Barbers are male, yet at The Shop a majority of the barbers are female.

 

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