Barbershops Of America Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of Hair Salons of America. A passionate project by Rob Hammer, created as a respectful allusion to the traditions of an industry marked by heritage and nostalgia.

KENNETH HOGAN SR. – BARBER CUTS AND BENDS – OAKLAND, CA.

It is easy to say that the people of the South have a “soul”, but this is not always true. Just as assuming that everyone in New York loves pizza. Kenneth Hogan’s father grew up in Vidalia, Louisiana, on the other side of the Mississippi River. Knowing this, you would assume that he has a lot of soul, and in this matter you would be right. He does it. Just go to his store and you will feel it.

There are many works of art and so many books that you could not count them all. And at the very back is his chair, without more space than he needs to bypass it during a cut. His chair is literally surrounded by a wall of books. However, it works and looks natural. None if this was done for effect. He loves having them there on hand whenever things get slow. Kenneth is a quiet guy who doesn’t have to say much, but when he speaks, you know there’s something behind it.

His memory is incredible. He can perfectly remember events that are more distant than me. Like his first race with a razor, when he felt a prick on his finger, but was confused, because it seemed that nothing was going on. Then 10 seconds after the blood started. Which, as he recalls, was probably the beginning of his barber career. A career that began at the age of 17 (1954) by accident. Kenneth hung out at the local hair salon like a kid doing chores for money. And one day, when the store was empty, someone entered and asked for a haircut. Kenneth obliged, although he had no experience, but has a job good enough for the man to pay him for it. That’s how it started.

Years after, he attended barber college in Oakland, California. It was at a time when segregation was still very much alive. Like everyone else, he tried to earn money while at university, but because he is black, he could never get on the chairs before. The front chairs had the first dibs on all the customers, so Kenneth just had all the leftovers. Nevertheless, he succeeded and began to beat the cobblestones to find work in the Bay area. It wasn’t long before he realized that working for someone else wasn’t his thing. So he found enough money to create his own house, and somewhere along the line he learned that he really likes to be a barber. “And I think now I love it”. Kenneth’s love for the barber is obvious. A business does not look like his without love. And listening to him talk about his career only solidifies these thoughts. “Whether I’m not cutting a head or cutting 15 heads, I feel the same.” Kenneth loves being a barber and loves being in this room. He doesn’t understand why people stop doing what they do. He thinks as soon as you retire, it’s over. Barbier pushes him forward. That keeps him young. Moves him and keeps his mind sharp. He loves to be challenged by the people in the store.

Kenneth was very hospitable and could not have been easier to talk to him. It is one of the oldest, from which the young leaders should learn. A lot of old boys are bitter and stuck in their ways, but Kenneth understands the business. Most importantly, it understands people and life. I don’t care who you are, sit down with Kenneth and he will teach you more than one or two things.