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Saturday, February 4, 2023

West Philadelphia barbershop is a house for the neighborhood

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The sound of clippers etching in opposition to a canvas of hair. The murmur of straightforward, familial conversations popping up between barber’s chairs. That is the day by day environment at Philly Cuts.

Positioned on forty fourth and Chestnut, the unisex barbershop and salon of 25 years creates an environment of consolation and openness for his or her neighborhood and shoppers.

“Philly Cuts is a crucial supply — or perhaps even a significant vessel — that allows you to know what is occurring in the neighborhood,” barber Khabir Jackson advised Billy Penn. “It’s the place that retains your ears to the road.”

Greater than only a place to get your hair accomplished, the West Philly institution provides networking, job coaching, and helps an anti-violence agenda.

Even first-time shoppers discover consolation on the store.

“I like coming right here. The folks and the vitality appear very calming. It feels straightforward to vibe with. I imply, even the music is good and stress-free,” mentioned a sophomore on the College of Pennsylvania who was visiting for the primary time.

A participant on the Penn Quakers, he mentioned he’d been looking for a location to get his twists redone and found Philly Cuts through a teammate’s suggestion. “Coming in right here considerably jogs my memory of being at the back of my mother’s automobile. It simply provides off that family-like vitality” he mentioned.

Underneath the course of proprietor and founder Daryl Thomas, the store provides numerous packages and alternatives for native youth, from lash lessons to a barber mentorship program that teaches completely different types of haircutting within the downstairs room.

Clifton Jackson / Billy Penn

“Each week, we all the time attempt to discover one thing to higher the neighborhood, or to incorporate the neighborhood to allow them to know that they do have a spot to go,” mentioned hairstylist Chanee Wiggins.

Wiggins began her profession at age 9 by braiding her sister’s hair, she mentioned. Earlier than lengthy, she was doing the entire basketball workforce at her faculty and getting paid for her efforts, generally mimicking distinctive types similar to Allen Iverson’s.

Now an Empire Magnificence College graduate, Wiggins has formally labored for Philly Cuts for the previous yr, however mentioned she has been affiliated with them for four-plus years.

“I used to work on the hair salon subsequent door and we all the time shared shoppers,” she defined, “After which I ultimately began working right here … and we nonetheless do the identical factor. It’s a well-oiled working machine.”

Philly Cuts at 4409 Chestnut St.
Clifton Jackson / Billy Penn

Exterior of that atmosphere, everybody at Philly Cuts acknowledges the continuing unrest that plagues their neighborhood.

“It’s our youth between the ages of 13 and 18 which are killing one another,” longtime barber James Brown, often known as JB, mentioned regarding the ongoing gun violence.

In his 24 years at Philly Cuts, Brown, a Henry trade-school graduate, has solidified himself because the supervisor of the institution together with his expertise and expertise.

Having lived within the metropolis for 49 years, he described watching Philly turn out to be one thing he couldn’t stand.

“I’m damage. And I’m bothered as a result of I’ve what you name pores and skin within the recreation,” Brown mentioned. “Pores and skin within the recreation implies that I’ve youngsters [in Philly] working round with different youngsters which are committing the violence and which are promoting the medication.”

As of mid-November, there have been not less than 459 murder victims in Philadelphia this yr, per statistics from the Workplace of the Metropolis Controller. Of these, the grand majority  — 94% — have been brought on by gun-related violence. Seventy-nine of these victims have been African-American males between the ages of 13 and 21.

All ages are welcome in the Philly Cuts barber chair
Clifton Jackson / Billy Penn

Regardless of these points,  Brown affirmed that Philly Cuts permits the neighborhood to expertise “love, peace, and concord,” which he mentioned helps occupy younger folks’s minds and maintain them off the gun-heavy streets.

Wiggins echoed that concept. “As an alternative of being out on the streets, we’re providing them, you understand, jobs after faculty or simply some place for them to go … or common info that almost all younger Black folks don’t know easy methods to get to.”

Retailer proprietor Thomas, who’s described by Brown because the “spine” of the neighborhood, has made efforts that transcend working a enterprise.

As a candidate for the one hundred and ninetieth state Home District seat in 2019, Thomas mentioned he needed to introduce payments and resolutions that might serve communities similar to his personal.

One of many Howard College graduate’s platforms advocated for correct zoning legal guidelines along with sustaining public faculty funding for the youth.

“[Darryl] is a exceptional retailer proprietor, enterprise man, and father. He undoubtedly has his eye on the prize by way of the heartbeat for the neighborhood,” mentioned barber Jackson.

Getting a trim at Philly Cuts
Clifton Jackson / Billy Penn

With seven years underneath his belt on the store, Jackson has made himself a house there.  When not doing haircuts, he might be seen doing push-ups, or reps together with his weights that sit subsequent to his chair.

Requested what makes Philly Cuts stand out he had a straightforward reply: “We give out the perfect product. Our turnover ratio is impeccable and the experience of my fellow co-workers is exceptional.”

To the employees, Philly Cuts is a neighborhood inside its personal neighborhood. A spot that builds not solely externally, but additionally internally.

“We take a look at ourselves like a cake.”, Brown mentioned. “One particular person brings the eggs, one other particular person brings the flour, one other particular person brings the icing. And after we put all these components collectively, it makes a reasonably respectable fluffy cake.”

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