Friday, November 6, 2015

A New Barber Sets Up Shop

Story and photos by Garrett McGowan

All of us want to look good when we have to go places, even if we are just walking from one building to the other here on the hilltop. The Benefit Dinner was last week, and people are expected to look professional, yet not everyone is able to leave the hilltop to get a haircut. Thanks to Jimmy Jimenez from the Diocese of Oakland they won’t have to. Jimmy is starting his first year of college and has brought with him his skills as a professional barber.

When Jimmy had his interview with the formation team prior to coming to Mount Angel, Father Ralph Recker asked him what he had done before discerning priesthood. Jimmy explained his experience as a barber, and Father Ralph gave him the house job on the spot. House jobs are assigned duties or jobs seminarians may sign up for. It involves tasks of cleaning, working in the sacristy, mail delivery, and many other jobs. Ever since then Jimmy sees approximately eight to ten seminarians a week, with formators also coming in for haircuts. Jimmy’s skills are in such high demand here on the hilltop that he has had to post a sign up sheet, and haircuts are only given on Saturdays and occasionally by appointment on Thursdays.

Gerard Juan enjoys Jimmy's barbering on a recent Saturday.

Jimmy works on the back and the front of Gerard's haircut.

Jimmy said it really started when his father back in Oakland told the family he was tired of paying for haircuts. Jimmy and his father purchased a pair of clippers and scissors and started to practice on each other. Soon Jimmy was cutting both his younger brother's hair and cousins were coming over. The more people who came to Jimmy’s house for haircuts, the better he became. He started to learn how to work with different types of hair and the different styles people wanted.

Jimmy explained that to be a good barber, “you really have to love what you do. You have to want to make people look good.” After a while he was able to get a job with the skills he had learned. He worked for almost three years in a professional shop. He developed a large list of clients before coming to Mount Angel. The barbershop can be a very competitive environment. Jimmy said that a barber is working against other barbers to gain clients and has to make enough money to rent his chair in the shop.

Jimmy said that there are different steps for different styles people ask for. The ones that he usually recommends for people trying something new are tappers, comb-overs, and fades. A taper starts off with skin and then blends into the thicker hair, whereas a fade already starts off with short hair and blends into the thicker hair. A comb over is combing the hair over to the side. He has converted the third floor kitchen of Anselm into his barbershop, where music can be heard from outside the door while people line up and wait for their appointments.

Jimmy cuts the hair of Zani Pacanza (top),
Dalton Rogers (middle), and Thein Hoang (bottom).

Jimmy comes ready for every appointment with his clippers as well as a cape and the paper neck collars, just like any professional barbershop would have. Jimmy also knows how to work with beards for those in need of a beard trim or a new style. Jimmy enjoys what he does for the community: “I use to do it for money, now I do it for the love of my brother seminarians.”

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