Pillars of the community

Published 9:21 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019

By Tonya Swindell

Hairstylists and barbers are integral parts of our community. Cheryl, the first hairdresser I found after coming to Hampton Roads, was very talented at cutting and styling relaxed hair. I found Sonica when she exited a car wearing a jacket commonly worn by hairstylists. She became a trusted friend and even accompanied me and my firstborn son to a medical appointment. Sonica transitioned my hair to dreadlocks, a style that changed my life.

I found Tracy’s flyer at work. She uplifted me by her genuineness, lively spirit and contagious laughter. I also enjoyed purchasing unique, colorful jewelry she created. Tracy remained my hairdresser until she suffered a traumatic brain aneurysm. She literally died, was revived and miraculously survived. Almost daily she texts me encouraging scriptures or quotes to brighten my day.

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I met Lynnea at our kids’ Taekwondo class. She was very pleasant and flexible. She did my daughter’s hair at home, which was especially helpful.

Gloria came highly recommended. I trusted her with cutting my locs for the first time. I have been impressed with her knowledge, helpfulness and calm demeanor. We discussed the importance of stylists like her and others with whom she works at Salon Modified, 424 N. Main St., Suite 2, Suffolk.

Master Barber and Navy Veteran, Dante, opened 5 Star Cuts, 2125 Starmount Parkway, Chesapeake, three years ago. He and his capable cadre of male and female barbers/stylists specialize in cuts for all ethnic backgrounds. Service is reliable and prices are reasonable.

While writing, I recalled my sons’ first haircuts performed by Carolyn Mitchell, a North Carolina barber, now deceased. “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon James, used jazzy words and snazzy illustrations to depict the uniqueness of an African-American boy’s trip to the barbershop. The short but entertaining children’s book captured the atmosphere and essence of the confidence building experience.

Senior Barber Mr. Swann and Master Barbers: Carol, A.G., T.J. and Mr. Mathis, provide an inviting atmosphere for military veterans at Hampton VA Medical Center. Mr. Swann expounds on numerous topics including his family’s world renowned culinary skills, his taste in music and accomplishments of his two beautiful daughters. Carol, A.G. and T.J. are always very pleasant and smile while shaving, cutting, trimming or braiding.

Mr. Mathis described how a swirling red, white and blue pole memorialized barbers’ work as tooth extractors and surgeons who performed bloodletting during medieval times. Patrons grasped a pole or rod to help barbers locate a vein. White symbolized bandages. Red represented arterial blood flow. The color blue was reportedly added to symbolize venous blood flow or as an homage to the American flag. Spinning motion represented a method for drying damp bandages.

Stylists and barbers are integral parts of our thriving community. They exhibit expertise, skill and patience while equipping people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses with confidence. Their efforts help people connect and experience a healthy dose of swagger.


Tonya Swindell writes a blog for www.inspirenewlife.org and is a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School (KBES.com). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.