Making the best of a very hairy situation

March 3, 2010, 12:58 a.m.

Many have tried, but only a handful of students can cut it as the unofficial dorm barber. It’s not uncommon to find one or two students in each dorm, house or residence who provide amateur salon services for their dormmates.

In FroSoCo, Taylor Nguyen ’13 and Wesley Dunnagan ’12 are the unofficial “dorm barbers.” While they both balance full course loads, Nguyen and Dunnagan make a point to help their dormmates—and their dormmates’ locks—look their best.

Nguyen said rumors of her talent spread by word of mouth throughout the dorm.

Making the best of a very hairy situation
(ANNE PIPATHSOUK/Staff Photographer)

“I cut one of my really good friends’ hair when he asked me,” Nguyen said. “Then, other people just started asking me to cut their hair, too. I don’t really know when it started.”

So far Nguyen’s clients have been mostly male, including some of FroSoCo’s College Assistants (CAs). Jordan Garcia ’10, a CA, joked about the experience, but also explained why it is great to have someone take on the role of dorm barber.

“It was a great experience; I got to tell the story of my life,” he said. “No, but honestly it is great to have someone who cuts hair in the dorm. It’s convenient and it’s free.”

Dunnagan’s mother works at a salon in Indiana, where he spent time growing up—“practically my whole life,” he said. He recalled an early experience he had with hair-cutting and styling, which may have been his inspiration.

“One summer, when my mom was cutting hair at a nursing home, she would have me take out the rollers and brush out the ladies’ hair,” Dunnagan said. “I think that is why people ask me for help.”

Dunnagan added that his lock-trimming talent didn’t hurt his reputation either.

“It must be because I have exquisite taste,” he said with a wink.

A typical hair-cut with the dorm barber takes place in a dorm hallway, with the barbers ready to go, safety scissors in hand. After a few snips, the barber is finished and out comes the vacuum and a happy-looking client.

Garcia went on to explain his reasons for not venturing outside FroSoCo for a haircut.

“I had heard some pretty bad stories about Stanford Hair,” he said. “For other places, it’s hard to get there and it can be a little pricey… now when I don’t go home during breaks I can still get my hair cut here.”

While Jackie Lho ’11, a resident of EAST house, does cut hair for a few friends, she resists the title “dorm barber.”

“I wouldn’t really call myself [that], per se,” she said. “At college, it started in my freshman dorm, when my friend Ryan said he needed a haircut… he ended up liking it and trusting me with his hair, so I’ve been cutting his and a few other friends’ hair ever since!”

Nguyen, Dunnagan and Lho—all of whom provide a valuable service for their friends—cut hair purely for the fun of it, never charging people for the trim.

“I’d never charge people,” Lho said. “In my sophomore dorm last year, there were some people who knew what they were doing, but would charge a small fee. If people didn’t feel like paying, I would offer to cut it for free and, of course, give them fair warning that I wasn’t a professional or anywhere close.”

Nguyen laughed at the idea of turning her hobby into a business.

“I guess I just never thought of it that way,” she said.

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