Culture Shock: Davenport barber carries on century old tradition, encourages inclusive community
DAVENPORT, Iowa – A Local barber is on a mission to carry on a century old tradition, while modernizing a Davenport barbershop that he hopes will foster an inclusive community.
Brandon Scott, 28 and a Davenport native, says it has been a dream of his since he was a little kid to own his own business. On February 13, that dream came true when he opened “Culture Shock”, a barbershop located at 1329 Washington Street in Davenport.
That same address has been the home to hair cutting for more than a century.
Culture Shock: Continuing a century old tradition.
“The man who owned (the shop) before me was actually the grandfather of my childhood best friend,” said Scott.
He says he remembers hanging out in the shop as a child, and having sleepovers at the apartment next door.
Scott says the man who owned the shop before him wanted to retire for years, but did not want to sell the building unless he could rest assured knowing that the building would remain a barbershop.
“It was important to him to keep the tradition alive,” said Scott. “That’s when everything just kind of fell into place.”
He had been a barber for several years, working at New Style Barbershop in Moline, Illinois. “I learned from literally one of the best barbers in the country there,” he said.
Scott worked for Miguel Rosas, a local barber who has gained popularity for his jaw-dropping haircuts and award winning designs. One of his most popular was in 2016 when he shaved the image of Chicago Cubs player Jake Arrieta into a guy’s head.
See a timelapse video of a Rosas’ designed Cubs haircut here:
"(Rosas) is actually the one who encouraged me and kept pushing me to go to barber college." said Scott.
Culture Shock: More than just cutting hair.
For Scott, the entire business is about more than cutting hair. He says it's about opening dialogue about race, religion and other tensions in today's world.
The self described "middle-class white boy" started his education to become a barber in Nashville, Tenn., where he said he saw racism happen in front of his eyes.
"I was the first white kid to go to school there," he said.
He said he quickly learned that he was "able to see things that other people were not able to see."
Those things had to do with the threat of the lack of inclusivity.
"I've seen my black friends experience racism firsthand, and now for the first time I have had people refuse to sit in my chair because of the color of my skin," Scott said.
He says it was that unique experience, combined with lyrics spit by his favorite rapper that allowed him to see a unique vision for his new shop.
Rapper Childish Gambino has lyrics that say, "Culture shock at barber shops cause I'm not hood enough" in his song Hold You Down.
The young barber suddenly felt a calling to make the most of his talents and offer more than just haircuts.
"I wanted to make a barber shop that is inclusive to everyone. I don't care where you're from, how much money you have, your background," Scott said. "I want the mayor of Davenport to be able to walk into the shop just like I want someone straight out of prison to walk in and feel comfortable."
He said he wants to shock people while changing what people think about barbershops. He wants it to be a place where conversations important to the community can happen.
"We need to have more conversations on hard topics," he explained. "Old school barbershops used to have a bunch of guys sitting around talking about what's going on in the world." Scott said he wants to bring that back.
"I want to push the boundaries and challenge people."
Culture Shock: Old building, new opportunity
So, he set out on the mission; Brandon Scott bought the barbershop that he grew up dreaming in, and got to work.
"When I got it, this place was straight out of the 70s," he said. "Everything was pink and brown."
Scott gutted everything, scraped down the walls, used more than 10 gallons of plaster to fix holes and refurbished the shop.
A new small business owner determined to succeed, he used money that he saved up, and got help from his parents.
"We did it all. There were points where I just wanted to take out a loan and my dad looked at me and said, 'I worked my whole life to help you live this dream' and that was the kind of sacrifice that made me realize how blessed I was to have parents like mine."
When Scott opened his doors on February 13, his first customer was his father.
"It was surreal, to stand there at 28-years-old and cut my dad's hair and to do it in my barber shop," he said.