When Kyle Parker began attending a predominantly white institution (PWI), he quickly realized that getting a decent haircut would be a challenge. In his predominantly white college town, there were no Black barbers. In fact, the closest Black barber was two hours away by car. The ordeal seriously impacted his mental health as he wasn’t able to look and feel his best. He also realized that other Black students were probably facing the same challenges, so he began dreaming up a solution.
“Being African-American, I didn’t have the option to walk down the street to my favorite, affordable barbershop while attending Grinnell College in Iowa. The barbershop was a large part of my culture that was missing and became a factor in why I transferred after 3 years. Wherever I decided to attend, I had to have an equal chance to a great barber as most of my classmates. I knew it would tremendously help my mental health,” Parker told AfroTech.
He eventually transferred out of Grinnell College but he never stopped trying to solve the problem. Eventually, he launched ClipDart – an on-demand mobile barber service.
How ClipDart Works
“Clients choose their appointment location and time frame, then select an on-demand barber from a list of nearby barbers who fit their needs,” Parker elaborates.
The clients will set up profiles where they can upload pictures of their preferred haircuts and the barbers’ profiles will also include their reviews and a portfolio of their work. ClipDart does the hard work of conducting background checks and vetting all the barbers on the platform so customers can feel confident in the service professionals they hire.
What’s unique about ClipDart is the ease with which clients can book group appointments, something that can save a lot of time and money for people who live in remote locations. On ClipDart, clients can arrange for a barber to travel to their location and provide several haircuts under the same booking. This is ideal for Black students like Parker who may attend PWIs or any other setting in which hair services are limited for Black and brown people.
Over the past year, ClipDart has also been developing relationships with predominantly white universities to provide professional barber services to their Black students at an affordable price.
“We offer a 30-Day discounted trial period for our University and College partners, where we do not charge any fees associated with ClipDart. In this period, the University and College Partners would only cover the cost of the barber’s wages,” he explains about the university program.
This introductory period is intended to introduce the university to ClipDart’s services and help them understand the value of competent hair and grooming services to their Black students’ mental health and wellbeing.
Parker is also passionate about giving back to his community. Most recently, he and the ClipDart team hosted a Juneteenth celebration at a Salvation Army in Tempe, AZ where they offered free haircuts to those in need.
“We’re doing this as a day to bring a collective effort from the community to improve one’s mental health,” Kyle told ABC15. The event also included over 200 volunteers offering services such as COVID-19 vaccinations, HIV/HCV testing, clothes, showers, food, and entertainment.
For Parker, the ClipDart mission is all about ensuring that Black and brown people never have to sacrifice professional hair and grooming services because of where they live. The platform currently has twelve hair care practitioners and is constantly searching for underserved Black and brown communities to add to the platform.