Not your grandfather’s barber shop. Or is it?
If you ask someone their idea of a barber shop, a typical response might include the famous red, blue and white rotating barber shop pole, older men getting their shoes shined, a candy dispensary and maybe hand-painted lettering on the windows that desperately need a touch up. Although master barber Tasha Daigle defies this standard, she still loves the antique pieces, repurposed doors and old mirrors and the nostalgia they bring to her customers.
Daigle runs Hair Art & Company on Government Street. The space used to belong to her grandfather and was called Wayne’s, and Daigle has definitely put her own spin on the place. But she didn’t always see herself as the woman behind the barber chair.
“I initially worked in a chemical plant,” Daigle said. “I didn’t grow up around a barber shop, but after working at the plant I took a one- year hiatus which made me realize I want to be doing hair.”
Switching from one predominantly male occupation to another, Daigle’s hustle and motivation is fueled even more by her love for local customers and artists. But, as it often does, this newfound sense of discovery came with some slight hindrances.
“I’m a lefty, which made beauty school challenging at first,” Daigle said. “But soon I was going behind others to clean up mistakes.”
Fast forward several years, and Daigle’s new master barber status has proven to be quite estimable, though her endeavors initially came with stigma and doubt from many. Not only does Daigle face the stigma of being a lady barber, she encounters the generation gap with older clients.
“I’ve answered the phone and older gentlemen are thrown off when when I say I’m the barber,” Daigle said. “Then they ask for my grandfather and tell them his granddaughter took over. They usually give me one chance, and that’s all it takes.”
With her short, brightly colored hair and feminine tattoos, Daigle has broken the mold and redefined the status of a barber. Not only that, she’s carried on her grandfather’s legacy as a talented barber and proves herself through her meticulous work every day.
Her employees follow along in this effort. The team of hairstylists consists of women who either have their barber’s license or are currently in the process of attaining their barber’s license.
“This group of girls is extremely talented, and having a barber’s license allows you to have a wider variety of clientele which is useful considering we are a family barber shop,” Daigle said.
Maybe it’s the inevitable nostalgia that comes with the barber chair from the late 1800s or antique mirrors that complement the local artwork on the walls, but clients who frequent this salon come for the experience in addition to a quality haircut or color. Hairdressers are often referred to as honorary therapists, and Daigle is no exception.
“I’m for sure a therapist to all, and gender has never defined a conversation,” Daigle said. “I’m a lot of people’s safe haven.”
Just as her grandfather did for his clients, Daigle cleans up her client’s brows, ears, facial hair and neckline.
“Men are always timid their first visit to my chair,” Daigle said. “Want a grown man to sit still? Give a woman a straight razor.”
Though she’s faced skepticism and doubt from many, she’s an exemplar of a progressive and determined woman who strives to make a name for herself and fellow women who feel restricted in career fields facing this stigma.