New barber shop opens in Hanover

by Pierce Wilson | 10/15/19 2:00am

Philadelphia native Sean Taylor recently opened a new barbershop in Hanover called The People’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor. The barbershop, which caters to all hair types, shares a space with Robert’s Flowers, located underneath the Starbucks on Main Street. 

Taylor said he decided to relocate to Hanover in order to be closer to his children, having worked out of another barbershop in the Upper Valley for the last four years. During those four years, he frequently visited Dartmouth as part of the Office of Pluralism and Leadership Black Hair Care program. Taylor says that business has been “amazing” in the three weeks he has been in Hanover, and his clients have been a good mix of students, faculty and other community members. 

Taylor said he has been cutting hair professionally for sixteen years, but started out doing it as a hobby when he was only eleven years old. He described his business as one that caters to all hair types — not just black hair — and added that he feels that it’s important that he and any future barbers he might hire are able to cater to all types of hair.

“Being a barber, I think you should be able to cater to all hair types,” Taylor said. “Me being here, if I was just a barber for the black people, I wouldn’t be able to make my bill. I think it’s important to be able to cater to the community, as well as to specific groups. This is The People’s Barbershop.”

Taylor added that many barbers do not know how to cater to all hair types, which, in his opinion, is no fault of their own.

“If you’re in a diverse area, you’re going to be able to cater to many hair types, but if you’re in an area where there’s ninety percent straight hair, and someone comes in who has overly curly hair, [you’re] going to have a problem with that because [you] don’t have experience doing it,” Taylor said.

Robert’s Flowers owner Michael Reed, who met Taylor at another barbershop in the area, described their business partnership as “great” and said that he enjoys having The People’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor in the flower shop. 

“It brings a whole new sort of energy to the shop, because he has such a following on campus,” Reed said.

Reed also noted that, on several occasions, Taylor’s customers have come in to get haircuts, and ended up leaving with flowers as well.

According to assistant dean of pluralism and leadership Sebastián X. Muñoz-Medina, finding accessible and affordable hair care resources in the Upper Valley has been a challenge for black students at Dartmouth for a long time. 

In response to these challenges, OPAL started “Black Hair Care,” a program that would invite a stylist to a local salon and a barber to campus for black students. Muñoz-Medina noted that although they do not know exactly how long “Black Hair Care” was around, it was a part of OPAL’s programming for a long time, and existed before they joined OPAL in 2014. 

According to Muñoz-Medina, “Black Hair Care” recently became OPAL Hair Care, and is now more of a financial program than an access program. OPAL Hair Care, which commenced this term, provides students with $20 vouchers for hair care services. 

Additionally, Muñoz-Medina said that instead of finding and inviting stylists directly to Hanover, OPAL now works with a program called The Suite, which was founded by a group of Cornell University graduate students in 2017. The Suite finds stylists and a salon to house them in, and OPAL connects Dartmouth students to the online booking portal. 

Muñoz-Medina said that OPAL began working with Taylor a little over two years ago. 

Harsh Jhaveri ’23 booked an appointment with Taylor last week, and described the appointment as a “very good experience.”

“He was really nice, talkative, and he kept me engaged in conversation the entire time,” Jhaveri said. “Even when he was cutting my hair, I never felt uncomfortable, and the shop was really clean.”