FORT SMITH, Ark. — From the time you walk into a Black barbershop, you're going to be treated like family.
"Aye man, don't come in trying to run my shop," Owner and Barber of Trendsetters Barbershop, Nick Jones said jokily while being interviewed.
Since age 13, barber Nick Jones has been cutting hair. He now owns Trendsetters’ Barbershop in Fayetteville. A shop he says he was scared to open.
"I wasn't sure if we're going to make that payment every month," Jones said.
But despite that fear, he opened anyway because of the need of the community.
"It's like a little bit of a home away from home type feel," said Trendsetter Barbershop customer Terrance McGaster, who came to Arkansas from Texas three years ago. "I was just looking for a place that would cut my hair."
He eventually met Jones and the two hit it off. McGaster says he thought to himself, "Alright, I'm good. This is it, I found my place."
McGaster adds that the barbershop is a place that feels a bit like home.
"The barbershop was a safe haven," said Tony L Harris, a panelist at the University of Arkansas Fort Smiths' 'Barbershop Talk' event, hosted by 'Men of Excellence' at the university.
"The barbershop is where you can be real," said Lucas Croney, UAFS 'Men of Excellence' Panelist.
"We talk about everything," Jones said.
"Church, politics, things happening in the community, personal things, anything really," said Croney. He the barbershop a pillar of the Black community, along with the church.
Kyle Cox has been a barber at Trendsetters for 3 months now. He says this is his first Black barbershop, and there are "a lot of talking points that don't get mentioned anywhere else."
"I know we have the tough conversations in the barbershop, I just implore you all, if you would like to have the tough conversations," said Chris Chaney. "Let me say this too as a pinpoint... we're therapists. Lamont said we're therapists."
At the UAFS event Monday night, a Fort Smith barber announced that they would like to bring the Confess Project to Fort Smith. It's a program the trains barbers to be mental health advocates. Which is already on its way to Northwest Arkansas.
Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:
Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device
To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.