College Hill adds ‘Finishing Touch’

LEZIGA BARIKOR, Campus Life Editor | [email protected]

While Romeo and Juliet may have pondered what’s in a name, Jay Barber’s contains his profession.

The 25-year-old Waterloo native opened “The Finishing Touch” with his neighbor-turned business partner Alex Vance on March 14. 

The combination barber shop and tattoo parlor is located on College Hill, next to the Shakery Smoothie Bar.

Barber said that he noticed many of his customers go from his barber shop into Vance’s tattoo parlor and vice versa, so he thought it would make sense for the two to officially combine their businesses as they were already sharing clientele.

The two businesses operate mainly independent of one another, but there is friendly collaboration as barbers utilize the tattoo parlor and vice versa.

“They’ve done a lot of my tattoos,” Barber said. “They’ve tattooed my mom and my dad and my brother.”

Barber first jokingly brought up the idea to Vance in February of 2018, but by the fall, the two started making serious plans to begin a business together.

Barber’s journey to his current position was far from conventional. He started out at Kirkwood Community College, where during his final year he realized that he didn’t want to use his business degree in the corporate world. So, Barber began thinking of career paths he’d rather take.

“I have a nine-year-old son, I started cutting his hair and it kind of sparked interest in myself, so I looked into barbering,” Barber said. “I started barber school a month later and I never looked back.”

After completing barber school, Barber began working in the Men’s Room Hair and Beard Parlor in Cedar Rapids. After some time there, he moved on to help a fellow colleague start his own barber shop endeavor called the Five Seasons, also in Cedar Rapids. After a while, Barber wanted to relocate back home to the Waterloo area and be closer to his family.

From cutting his son’s hair, Barber recalled his own childhood memories of haircuts.

“I was always so picky about my haircut. I used to drive my barber nuts,” Barber said. “It’s almost like he hated when I’d come in, but he loved me at the same time. He’s like ‘Ah, here goes Jay!’”

Barber’s ultimate goal was to open up his own parlor. Before he figured out when it would happen, he had a vision in mind for it.

“I’ve taught a lot of classes, barber classes, and one of the classes that I did for students and cosmetologists that wanted to learn more about men’s hair, I called it The Finishing Touch,” Barber said. “I had my buddy make up a logo for me and that was before I even thought about opening this.”

Barber said his father helped him build his shop.

“Everything in here, me and my dad built custom. When we first got this place, it was a dirt floor,” Barber said. “Me and my dad were a big part of actually putting this place together, literally.”

The shop also has special deals for students of all ages, from middle school to college, as long as they have a student ID. Student Tuesdays offer discounted haircuts. Barber said students can also make appointments via the Booksy app, and walk-ins are accepted every day.

According to Barber, he’s seen a lot of diverse clientele.

“We really pride ourselves just in having a different environment and a welcoming, just comfortable environment for people to come in. We have moms that bring their kids in,” Barber said. “It used to be the dads that would bring kids in. We made it okay for moms to step into a barber shop and feel comfortable and not feel like this is man’s place.”

Business has been going well for the shop, according to Barber.

“It feels like we’ve been open forever,” Barber said.

There are plans in the works for a grand opening. Barber does not yet have a date set, but he said that when it happens they will open up the shop for everyone and host a free grill-out.