Curbside Cuts: Six women want to send out a sharp-tressed man
Curbside Cuts has gone brick and mortar - literally, because they are in a brick building now - but the Abilene barber business remains, well, a cut above the norm.
This isn't your granddaddy's barbershop, with the iconic swirling red, white and blue pole out front and men armed with clippers inside.
The operators are six women who are armed - again, literally - with tattoos and piercings. There's music going and an upbeat vibe.
And there's this invitation: " Nothing beats a fresh cut, shave and free beer."
Free beer with a beard trim?
Why didn't granddad think of that?
Curbside is participating in this year's Business Expo, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Abilene Convention Center after an Abilene Chamber of Commerce Redcoats' ribbon-cutting at 9.
Cost is $10 per person, or free to chamber members.
Working in shifts of two, the gals will give free, walk-up haircuts at the event.
Curbside may not immediately scream chamber, but they are a member.
"I just try to be active in the community," founder Aspin Santos said. "And give back to the community."
Guys' day out
Curbside sticks with men, believing they can move the guys through a lot faster.
For the most part, too, a guy's haircut is not as demanding. In more ways than one.
"I know how I want my hair and I don't want to have to deal with that," Santos said, laughing.
If a woman wants a man's haircut, that's fine.
"If you come in here with long hair, we're not going to cut it," she said.
And youngsters are welcome; last week, a mom held a boy in her lap in the chair while the barber barbered. A sucker held the young man's attention.
Snips and trips
In 2018, a unique business venture was launched by Santos. Curbside began, as the name suggests, as a mobile barbering service.
Santos and Sondra Martinez had been at a local shop, Studio 29 Salon, in southwest Abilene. It closed.
"We didn't want to go back to work for anybody," she said. "One of our clients suggested we go mobile.
They purchased a retirement center bus and outfitted it to sail about town.
"We gutted it and put a barbershop in it," Santos said. "We would drive around to different locations."
Eventually, it was decided to cast anchor.
"It got to a point where we couldn't take more clients," she said. Their license renewal was coming up on the bus, too.
They found a place on South 14th Street, near a 7-Eleven and a martial arts studio. They're starting a third year at the South 14th location.
"We kept the name because it was already established," said Santos, who once drove by a barber school and thought she'd give it a try. She has been a stylist for 14 years.
In addition to Santos and Martinez, the barbers are Haili Weber, Shayla Rumble, Christy McCann and Cheyenne Nase.
Weber is coming up on her first year at Curbside, but the crew otherwise has been together for several years.
It's Christy, by the way, who cuts her co-stylists' hair.
How about the vibe?
"We try to be relaxed," Santos said.
Customers can bring their youngsters, who find toys in a toybox and can play an arcade game in the corner. Haili's son, Callan, joins her at work on Saturdays, and the arcade game keeps him out of her hair.
"He gets to run the show up here," she said, smiling.
There's candy. Got to have candy.
For the guys, the TVs usually have sports on, as if free beer wasn't good enough.
Music is important, Santos said, because it helps keep conversations more between a barber and a client. Stations are not separated in any way, with chairs in a row.
All the women have a say in the music. It varies, but it's family friendly, Haili said.
Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-tressed man
One of Santos' regulars is Jay Martinez, who comes in, like clockwork, every two weeks. He brings his son whenever it's "Hey, dad, I need a haircut."
"He has a ton of hair," he said.
Martinez said the relationships keep him coming back.
"And his amazing haircut," Santos interjected, laughing again.
Barbers and clients avoid the two taboos - politics and religion - when they talk, Santos said. Conversations vary.
"Mostly about life, my kids, work. We know some of the same people," Martinez said.
That, Santos said, is what's enjoyable about her job. "You created relationships with your clients. They're not just clients. It's a family."
Haili echoed that. She has been barbering for 10 years, starting after high school.
And that family feeling goes for the barbers, too.
"We work great as a team," Haili said. "Cheyenne's the crazy one. We are family, but we all do our own thing."
Expect to see more women as barbers, she said.
"Women are coming in. I think it's going to be this way," she said. "Men will tell you they prefer a woman."
Mullets are back, like it or not
Haili said the work is fun, too.
"I enjoy the actual cutting of it," she said. Most guys' haircuts are fairly simple "but we get some demanding ones. But those are fun, too."
She said fades remain popular. Other guys want a tight cut.
The kids go for mullets, a look that brings back the '80s which some thought never would return.
Why is it back?
"They look good in a baseball cap," Haili said. "That's what it is. You can see the curls from the back. The kids that have mullets play baseball.
"The last two years, mullets are a pretty big deal."
The hardest haircut?
"A flattop," she said, without hesitation. "It's just so ... precise. There's no flaws."
Curbside has military clients who go for the "high and tight." That's when the sides are very short but the hair is allowed to rise a bit on top.
It was close to what Martinez, who has been at the Abilene Nissan dealership for 18 years, was getting last week. He drives across town for his cut.
"You leave here looking good. And when you look good, you feel good," he said. "And when you feel good, you do good."
"Right, Jay!" Santos said, making sure his cut was all good.
Just one more detail; do clients tip well?
"Yeah, they do," Haili said, smiling.
Curbside, 3291 South 14th St., is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Curbside Cuts: Six women want to send out a sharp-tressed man