First-year Kade Needham bends over the metal sink in his room in Third Court. A mechanical buzzing fills the air in the tiny bathroom as he shaves the back of his head, judging the length seemingly by instinct. Brushing over his head to search out any leftover long patches, Needham stares into the mirror admiring his new cut. In addition to trimming his own hair, he also cuts, colors and styles the tresses of other students on campus.
“I bought a decent pair of clippers from Target,” he said. “For only $30, it was the easiest way to jump into the haircutting scene.” Ideal for buzz cuts, mohawks and “those weird hairstyles where half the hair is long and the other half is shaved,” Needham’s clippers see plenty of action.
“I’d say on average, I cut someone’s hair once a week,” he said. “I started out trimming mostly guys’ hair, but I now I cut girls’ hair too. I actually use clippers instead of the buzzers when I’m doing a longer feminine haircut.”
Second-year Anna Gioseffi also cuts a mix of long and short hair.
“I started cutting hair at the end of last year,” she said. “One of my friends needed and trim, and having relatively good hand-eye coordination, the job fell on me!”
Though she doesn’t cut hair as often as Needham, Geoseffi seems to get called upon “whenever one of her friends, or friends-of-a-friend needs a trim.” She also occasionally responds to haircut requests on the Forum.
Since that first hair cut, Geoseffi continues to experiment and try new things. “I cut long and short styles,” she said. “Short hair gives you more free range, but with longer hair you can do some interesting stuff too. I really like cutting bangs.”
Besides functioning as an entertaining hobby, Gioseffi’s skill helps fill up the piggy bank. “I usually tell people to pay me what they think it was worth,” she said. “I get about $5 to $10 for a haircut, depending on the difficulty and time involved. I’m open to bartering! But being on a budget, it’s nice to get some money once in a while.”
Another perk of the job? “[Besides] having a skill that I can actually make money off of, I get to create a piece of wearable art,” she said enthusiastically. “Every time I see that person, I can feel proud about it!”
Third-year Cheryl Askey, yet another self-proclaimed Novocollegian stylist, dove into the haircutting subculture on campus this semester. “I suppose it’s my new hobby for the spring,” she said.
Her first time wielding clippers took her by surprise.
“A friend of mine wanted to shave off all of his hair, and he asked me, ‘Do you know how to cut men’s hair?’” Askey said. “Next thing I knew, he was sitting in my kitchen and hair was falling all over the place.” Since this first venture, she’s trimmed the locks of three other students.
While she has cranked out a few longer styles, she prefers trimming shorter hair. “Shorter is easier,” she said. “I’ve done [other lengths], but it all depends on the type of hair and what the person wants. Above all else, I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m not confident in what I’m doing, which will most likely end terribly.”
Reluctant to try anything over-the-top, Askey is still honing her basic skills.
“I’m still trying to figure out how to hold so many things in my hands at one time while cutting a person’s hair,” she said. “I’m not ready for creativity yet.”
Needham, on the other hand, loves trying new things.
“Hair dyeing — that’s new to my skill set,” he said. “When I first came to New College, I dyed my hair white. I bleached it, and then used chemicals to strip the yellow out of it.” After shaving it into a mohawk, the style was complete.
Now Needham helps his fellow students change their hair color.
“I’ve done green, blue, red, orange, yellow and pink,” he said. “New York Beauty Supply — the store right up the street near the Goodwill — has a great selection. They also sell wigs, which is cool too.” Needham has also developed his own technique that uses acrylic paint to temporarily color hair.
Beyond the cash and creativity, Askey, Gioseffi and Needham all found that haircutting is a wonderful way to meet people around campus.
“I’ve made lots of friends cutting hair,” Gioseffi said. “There’s something about combing someone’s hair that makes them want to tell you their life story.”