PHOTOS: Step inside Seattle’s Barber Shops and Beauty Salons

by Susan Fried

Shelly Intravartolo, the owner of the Parlour in Columbia City, directs a young woman to a well-worn barber’s chair and asks her what kind of haircut she would like. The conversation is relaxed and comfortable and it’s not long before the new customer is talking to Shelly like they’ve known each other for years.

The small beauty salon is unpretentious. The barber chairs in the Parlour are all different, acquired second-hand. They, like the other quirky and eclectic furnishings, reflect the ebullient personality of the salon’s owner. Five photographs of old South Seattle Barbershops are displayed on the wall above the mirrors and chairs. A replica of a barbers pole glows in the window.

A comfortable couch lines the wall opposite the mirrors. The Parlour like all beauty parlors and barbershops has its own personality. What draws customers to a particular hair cutting establishment depends on a lot of factors including recommendations from friends, convenience and, what brought this young woman into the Parlour, a sign outside that says walk-ins welcome.

There are barbershops and beauty salons everywhere. You drive down almost any street with small businesses in Seattle, and you’ll see a shop advertising haircuts. It’s the sort of business that the internet can’t replace.

Almost everyone needs a place to have their hair cut. Once you find that place, you tend to establish a relationship with the person who cuts your hair. More than cutting your hair just the way you like it, your barber or stylist becomes a friend, a therapist or a mentor.

Earl’s Cuts & Styles has been a fixture on 23rd and Union for 30 years. Owner Earl Lancaster has many customers who have known him that entire time. He has mentored other barbers and his shop has been a place where a kid can make a few bucks sweeping up, and gain some knowledge “on their journey through life,” he said. He sponsors little league football teams, speaks at youth events and tries to give back to the community. He said that the change in the neighborhood has had an effect on his business.

“This used to be a thriving black community,” he said. “It was mixed but majority black. Since gentrification and displacement and relocation of people, it’s changed. There aren’t as many black families as there was that helped my success along the way. Now I’m working with older clients.”

Earl’s shop is moving from its current location to the Liberty Bank Building across the street in a few months

Intravartolo decided she wanted to pursue being a hairstylist in high school. She likes the relationships she has with her customers, and the flexibility and the creativity owning a salon gives her.

“I’m thinking of shapes when cutting hair,” she said. “Taking into consideration hair texture, growth patterns and making things work for people, you can take a guy who looks like he’s bald and just with the right shape, he’ll look like he has a normal head of hair.”

She enjoys her profession.

“You get where you want to come in and talk to your friends all day long and work on shapes,” she said.

Tony Brooks Sr. who owns The Brooks Family Barbershop on Rainier Avenue. He was working at Boeing during a period of layoffs and thought being a barber would be a great skill to have.  His brother, who has styled hair for contestants in the Miss USA Pageant, told him, “You know there’s hair all around the world.” So Tony decided to go to school to become a barber, thinking that if he stayed with Boeing, it would be a great second source of income. After being laid off and finishing school he worked with a couple barbers before building his own salon at his home. He has been at his current location for 11 years.  Both his sons are in the business. Like Earl Lancaster, Brooks, who is also a pastor, makes a point of being a mentor to young people.

“I have over a hundred sons from this barber chair that graduated from high school that went on to college, came back and now I’m cutting their kids hair,” he said. “This is a ministry as well as a community barbershop. So this is our little social network, sitting right here.”

Brooks is a busy man, and he says between ministry, cutting hair and being an entrepreneur.

“Everything that I desire to do in my life, I can do it for God,” he said.

Maybe your neighborhood barbershop or beauty salon isn’t only a place to get your haircut the way you like it. Maybe it’s a place to change your outlook on life, engage with the community and possibly even form lifelong friendships.

Brooks Family Barber Shop

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Solomon Taylor, 15, watches himself in the mirror as barber Tony Brooks Sr. trims his hair. Taylor has been getting his haircut at the Brooks family Barbershop since he was 9 years old. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Noah, 5, isn’t so sure about getting his haircut by Tony Brooks Jr. at the Brooks Family Barbershop in Columbia City. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Tony Brooks Sr. cuts Solomon Taylor hair at the Brooks Family Barbershop in Columbia City. Taylor, 15, has been getting his hair cut by Mr. Brooks Sr., since he was 9 years old. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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While Tony Brooks Jr. relaxes in between customers, Tony Brooks cuts the hair of Soloman Taylor, 15, at the Brooks Family Barbershop in Columbia City. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Tony Brooks Sr. finishes cutting a customer’s hair at his shop in Columbia city. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Salon Adidez

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Salon Adidez owner Zed Aschenaki curls a customer’s hair. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Zed Aschenaki, the owner of Salon Adidez finishes styling a customer’s hair. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Salon Adidez owner Zed Aschenaki finishes styling a customer’s hair in her salon in Columbia City. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Earl’s Cuts & Style

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Earl Lancaster, who has owned a barbershop on 23rd and Union for 30 years, does a quick trim to his beard before attending a community roast on December 30, 2018, honoring his service to the community. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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A mirror in Earl’s Cut and Styles reflects owner Earl Lancaster working on a customer’s hair. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Paul Hinton a protege of Earl Lancaster, owner of Earl’s Cuts and Styles, does a few final touches to his mentor’s beard before the start of a community roast on December 30 which celebrated Earl’s 30 years in the Central District. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Barber Jason buffs up a customers hair at Earl’s Cut and Styles Barbershop. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Earl Lancaster works on a customer’s hair at his barbershop, Earl’s Cuts and Styles on 23rd and Union. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Earl Lancaster and barbers Jason and Lardell work on customers at Earl’s Cuts and Styles Barbershop on 23rd and Union. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Nina Salon

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Nina Luong, the owner of Nina Salon, finishes giving Justin, 7, a haircut. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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A woman sits under a hair dryer at Nina Salon on Rainier Avenue. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Nina Salon on Rainier Avenue offers a variety of services, including haircuts for men and women, facials, and nails. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Nina Salon is a busy full service salon, offering haircuts, facials, nails, and waxing. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Joseph’s Elite Image

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Joseph Irving owner of Joseph’s Elite Image trims a customer’s beard at his barbershop on South Barton Street in Rainier Valley. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Joseph Irving owner of Joseph’s Elite Image does some final touch ups for a customer at his barbershop on South Barton Street in Rainier Valley. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Joseph Irving owner of Joseph’s Elite Image cuts a customers hair in his barbershop on South Barton Street in Rainier Valley. (Photo: Susan Fried)

The Parlour

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The Parlour owner Shelly Intravartolo cuts a customers hair in her shop in Columbia City. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The tools of the trade sit on the counter at the Parlour. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Franki, a stylist that works out of the Parlour, prepares to cut a customers hair. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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An old photo of a barbershop in Rainier Valley is one of several lining the wall in the Parlour. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The interior of the Parlour reflects the style of its owner. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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An old photo of a barbershop in Rainier Valley is one of several lining the wall in the Parlour. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The name of the Parlour and its owner are reflected in a mirror in the back of the shop. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Fade Master’s Barber Shop

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Sydni Owens works on a customer’s hair. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Fade Master owner Sydni Owens sits in one of the barber chairs in his shop. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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A framed vintage poster of black hair styles hangs in the Fade Master’s Barbershop. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Sydney Owens, the owner of Fade Master’s Barbershop, trims a customer’s hair. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Fade Master’s owner Sydni Owens trims longtime customer Fred’s hair. Fred has been getting his haircut by Sydni for 15 years. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Fade Master’s Barbershop owner Sydni Owens can be seen through the front window of his shop trimming a customer’s beard. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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Featured Image: Joseph Irving owner of Joseph’s Elite Image trims a customer’s beard at his barbershop on South Barton Street in Rainier Valley. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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