ROCKINGHAM — A new barber is on the block, and although Daniel Sweatt has been cutting hair for almost two years, his new residency finds his chair inside Merle Norman in the Richmond Plaza shopping center.
Sweatt, 22, attended the Alamance Barber Institute in Burlington and has been cutting professionally for two years, but his barber career actually began at home.
“I went to school, but I’ve cut people’s hair at my house, stuff like that, growing up. Professionally I’ve been cutting for about two years out of school,” said Sweatt. “When I was younger my dad used to cut my hair, and he’d buy clippers. Old, cheap clippers. He’d cut my hair, and I tried to cut his hair one day, and it didn’t look bad. Then I cut my brother’s hair, and my brother wanted a fade one day so I tried it, and it looked good, and I started cutting all my friends’ hair. By the time I got some age, around 10th, 11th grade, I knew I wanted to go to barber school. That’s how I got started.”
Sweatt actually started at Merle Norman right out of barber school, but left soon after to Hamlet where he cut hair at Fred’s City Barbershop. Four months later, he made the move back to Richmond Plaza and has been there ever since.
He listed the reasons for making the move back as the environment, the scenery, location and his co-workers. The shopping center’s ongoing $3 million renovations, however, didn’t play a part in his changing locations.
“No, I didn’t even know they were gonna do that when I first started here,” he said of the remodel.
He did, however, agree that the renovations will improve foot traffic for Merle Norman and the other shops located in Richmond Plaza.
Some of the services Sweatt provides include hot towel shaves, shampooing and conditioning, women’s cuts and layered cuts, men’s hair styling and hair cuts, facials and skin-tight fades.
“I mean, just about any type of haircut for a man or a woman,” he added.
Different types of cuts and styles come with varying prices, but Sweatt said it basically depends on what the client wants.
“It just depends on what they’re getting,” he said. “Like a hot towel shave is $20. If they’re wanting a haircut, like a man’s haircut, it’s $20. A woman’s haircut, like just wanting the ends trimmed, is $20. If they’re wanting a layered cut, depending on how steep they wanna go with the layers, $25 and up for layered cuts for women. If they get a hot towel shave and haircut that’s $40, but if they want their beard trimmed up, like get the beard lined up and a haircut, I charge $25 for that.”
It took Sweatt a year and half at Alamance Barber Institute to perfect his craft and put in 1,528 hours — the number needed to graduate — to prove it. Cosmetologists, for comparison, need 1,200 hours, Sweatt said, and the extra hours are spent with a straight razor.
“They can use a straight razor on the hair, something like that, but when it comes to the face, they cannot put it on the skin,” Sweatt said about the difference between a cosmetologist and a barber. “Where barbers can put straight razors on the skin, cosmetologists can’t. They can’t shave. We can. But we can do everything a cosmetologist can do, but we do more. I know how to do hair coloring, I can do all that, but I don’t promote my hair coloring because I don’t usually do it ‘cause I have so many cuts coming in. I send them to my co-workers.”
Sweatt mentioned scenery as one of his reasons for picking Merle Norman, and whether it’s fair or not, the shop is usually looked upon as primarily a beauty shop for women. Sweatt, however, doesn’t see it that way.
“Maybe the older clients, they may not like it sometimes, but the majority, I’d say over 95 percent of the people that come here, they love it because they get to see them girls come in,” he said of the misconception.
With two years of professional experience in the books — and more years under his barber belt from home — Sweatt will soon be looking to branch out.
“I’d like to have my own salon one day,” he said. “Like soon. As soon as possible. Whenever the opportunity comes.”
Sweatt cuts and styles hair by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at Merle Norman, Suite 29 in the Richmond Plaza shopping center. To schedule an appointment, call Sweatt at 910-995-4496 or Merle Norman at 910-997-4005.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674, follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson and listen to him at 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on G-104.3 FM.