Oxford barber offers free haircuts for Talawanda students for picture day

A plan to help Talawanda School District students look their best for yearbook picture day this year was unveiled for the board of education this summer when Kiki the Barber described her intent to offer free haircuts to students in all the district buildings.

While she goes by Kiki — a nickname going back to childhood — her name is Juiquetta Harmon and she has developed quite a following since coming to Oxford six years ago from Nashville.

Now, she sees the haircut offer as a way to give back to the community, but she said it is not original. She was part of a similar program at the Nashville barber college she attended, while accumulating the necessary barbering hours to become a licensed Master Barber. She needed 1,500 hours for that license, but was required to have 1,800 hours for licensing in Ohio. Strongly supportive letters of recommendation from Nashville helped her with the Ohio Board of Cosmetology requirements which she calls a blessing.

She has recruited others from the local barbering community to work on the free haircuts for picture day project. She has worked with the Talawanda School District to develop a parental permission form for the project.

Harmon said this past week details and dates were still being worked out with a meeting planned with district counselors and social workers. All five schools are included in the free haircut offer. Gini Combs, of Rose Room Salon, had committed to taking part in the project and others had expressed interest in it. She is expecting help from many including hair professionals from Oxford and even Hamilton.

“It’s looking good,” she said.

Parents can check their school’s calendar online to find the picture day dates and schedule for haircuts in each building.

Harmon said she has been known as Kiki since she was a child and introduces herself that way still. In fact, it’s even stitched onto the back of her barber smock.

“My dad’s mother called me by Kiki, when I was a little girl and everybody has followed suit,” she said, adding her barbering training began well before barber college and starting in the business. “I’ve done it for years. Before I was a licensed master barber, my dad had a major stroke and I was shaving him. He was with me full time.”

When she came to Oxford, she operated out of the Rose Room Salon but for the past two years has been located at Hair Care Etc. in the small shopping center on South Locust Street, next to the donut shop.

She calls her profession “a lot of fun” and enjoys a loyal clientele. She recalled a time when she served five generations of a family in one day and said she likes working with children, putting them at ease talking to them. Her son is now a senior at Butler Tech and she said she has been cutting his hair since he was 11 months old.

“Kids are not scared. They climb up in the chair by themselves,” she said. “It’s a bridge of trust and loyalty.”

She joined the Oxford Chamber of Commerce and was awarded a small business grant to purchase a portable chair and equipment, including new clippers.

Harmon estimates she can do three to five children in an hour. In the shop, she usually takes about a half-hour for kids and 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half for adults, depending on what they want but said she has done a father and two sons in 45 minutes because that is what they wanted.

She looks forward to the picture day haircuts to give back to the community, continuing a long-time personal effort.

“I’m excited. I love serving kids. Prior to being licensed, I gave free haircuts to kids and people in nursing homes,” she told the board of education at their June meeting. “Nursing (staff) could be a part of this, too, checking for lice. I will keep the clippers cleaned, according to procedure.”

Board Member David Bothast thanked her for her offer, saying, “You are a perfect example of someone with a gift and paying it forward.”

Harmon said she sees the offer of haircuts as more than just making kids look nice for their picture day photos.

“If a kid needs a haircut, it makes them comfortable. It’s confidence building, making them confident within the community. School pictures are in the yearbook, grandparents get those,” she said.

A mother sitting in the shop while her two sons got their haircuts said, “They will not go to any other barber. Like she said, it’s about community.”

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