Barber in residence

Aliu cuts hair in his residence room, and he averages about one client a day.

When I told my mom I was getting a haircut in a university residence, she was taken aback. 

Seated on a standard residence chair instead of a professional barber’s, I got my hair cut in a common room by a first-year student. All the barber had in hand was a lone razor and a variety of clipper attachments, leaving me nervous, yet willing to test out a new hairstyle. 

A half an hour into my cut, the experience was over. I left with a new hair, while Bolu Aliu had yet another satisfied customer. It was just like any other haircutting experience, chatting back and forth about anything and everything, except for the obvious differences: the location, the Facebook appointment booking system and the hours — my cut took place on 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night, about four hours after most salons close.

Aliu, Sci ’19, is the proud owner of his own barber business. Having learned hairstyling techniques through self-experimentation and watching hours of tutorials in grade 11, Aliu’s haircutting practice has gained recognition around campus since it launched at the beginning of the winter semester. 

But like my mother, it isn’t altogether uncommon for customers to be concerned at first.

“The main thing is just making the person feeling comfortable,” Aliu said. 

“I play the music they enjoy, they talk to me. I’ve made a lot of friends through it.”

But initial hesitation doesn’t stop students from stopping by his residence room for a cut, as Aliu said he averages about one client a day.

“A good haircut is a good haircut,” Aliu said.

For $10 a cut, he’s trying to compete with Kingston’s coiffures with a cheaper fee.

A lot of his large clientele hear about him through word-of-mouth and posted images on Facebook groups, such as Overheard at Queen’s. He’s also picked up gigs through people simply asking their friends where they got their latest fade.   

Aliu’s hope is to keep up his side business for the next few months, until he exports his clientele to his new home in the University District. 

While he said he’s enjoying the exposure of working for himself, he’s not shying away from the real reason he picked Queen’s.

“The main goal will always be engineering,” he said. “[But running the business] is perfect because it not only allows me to do my hobby which I enjoy, but it allows me to make a little money on the side.” 

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