Hairstyles have changed incredibly over the last few decades, and local barber Wayne Daigle has been there to see it on a firsthand basis.
Before his current shop, Daigle owned a barber studio for 18 years off Bedford Drive. Afterward, he moved to Government Street and opened Wayne’s Hair Styling & Barber, where he’s been for almost 37 years.
To put it simply, Daigle has been cutting hair for a long time, longer than some of our parents have been alive. He began on March 14, 1961, so as you can guess, he’s seen almost everything.
“It really has been such an evolution with hair,” Daigle said via phone. “I’ve seen the flat top craze, the high top craze, the Beatles craze, the John Kennedy — everything.”
And with time comes change.
“It used to be about the cuts or the lengths of the hair, but now it’s all about color and highlights and styling. It really is just like clothes, I mean it’s a fashion” he said. “There’s so many products for men, pomades and gels and things, that men are turning to instead of growing out their hair for style.
“I certainly don’t see as many ponytails or shoulder-length hairstyles anymore.”
Although Daigle has been a barber for nearly his whole life, it wasn’t always his dream. He started out working in construction, then moved on to Exxon.
“I’ll never forget that. The winter was the coldest I had ever felt and the summer was the hottest I had ever felt, too,” he said.
Then, Daigle felt it was time for a change. He talked to an old friend from 10th whose father owned a barbershop. The rest is history.
When he started, Daigle still thought he would do both work at the studio and the construction site. However, he soon found himself drifting more toward the barber shop.
“It was really good work. Air-conditioned, decent hours, clean, easy. I loved it,” he said. “I never went back to construction.”
A few years later, his friend was injured in accident and no longer able to manage the shop. To help out, Daigle took over and became the owner of the shop. Ever since then, Daigle has been the provider of haircuts to people all over Government Street.
Sixteen years ago, Daigle kept himself busy by serving as the chairman of the Louisiana Board of Barbers for eight years. The committee, which dates back to 1939, is the testing and licensing agency for barbers.
Although this March will be his 55th year, Daigle has no intention of giving up his career anytime soon.
“It’s funny, some of my buddies retired about six months ago, and I kind of thought about joining them,” Daigle said. “Right when I was about to give it up, they said they were bored and came back to working. I just knew that would happen to me.”
For now, he has no plans of stopping.
“As long as I’m healthy, and as long as I can do a good job, I’ll be here behind the chair.”
Wayne’s Hair Styling and Barber is located at 4414 Government Street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806.