Kyle Parker, CEO and founder of ClipDart, a phone application that delivers barbers to students' doors, has his eyes set on ASU.
The idea to create an on-demand barber app came to Parker in 2016 while he was attending Grinnell College in Iowa. The closest barber shop was hours away from Parker and it was hard to find barbers experienced in cutting textured hair. The lack of haircare for communities of color affected Parker mentally.
As a minority, haircuts are crucial to individuality. Without it, Parker said he realized he couldn't look good for that special someone, basketball games or interviews.
"When you leave the chair, you look 100 times better, but most importantly you feel 100 times better, which is very, very important in these types of communities that are struggling a lot," Parker said.
There are few barber shops in Arizona that are experienced in cutting textured hair, and students at ASU do not have many options.
Parker said ClipDart's branding consists of three pillars: the app, business partnerships and its nonprofit organization, the ClipDart GiveBack.
The ClipDart GiveBack collaborates with local human services organizations to bring free haircuts, food, clothes and showers for people in need.
"At ClipDart, it is our duty to do all that we can to giveback to & learn from our community," Parker said on ClipDart's website.
"It's a blessing to me. It's always good to give back," said Noel Garza, a Surprise resident. Garza received a haircut from ClipDart during Project Connect, a fair aiming to end homelessness hosted by the Human Services Campus and supported by the Salvation Army and United Way, on Tuesday.
Garza had gone a long time without a haircut and made unsuccessful attempts to cut it himself.
Parker hopes one day businesses and nonprofits will be able to use ClipDart to book barbers at schools, hospitals or other organizations.
Joseph Reich, a senior studying supply chain management and former intern for ClipDart, became part of the app after receiving a social media message from Parker. Reich found Parker's message and goal powerful as a person of color who struggled with obtaining a haircut.
"The main goal of ClipDart is to produce a happier environment for people’s mental health," Reich said.
The app is made to be used across the country. Users create an appointment and select a barber near their location. Until more barbers apply, the service is still limited in certain areas. Barber availability, ratings and reviews are all accessible through the app. Photos of their work and services offered can also be seen.
Parker said his focus is on Arizona students. He hopes to partner with ASU officially.
In the meantime, ClipDart worked with the Residence Hall Association to give free haircuts at the Black Arts and Culture Fair at ASU in February. Parker was a guest speaker on a SelPH-Kare Workshop panel hosted by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
One reason ClipDart focused on Phoenix is the growing opportunities for tech companies. Phoenix was the best chance for growing mobile services, said Dre Perez, barber and marketing specialist for ClipDart.
"One of the greatest issues that's here in Phoenix is that people travel 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes an hour, in traffic to receive quality food, to receive quality services and to receive quality hair care," Perez said.
Time conflicts, high prices in traditional barbershops and lack of transportation, especially for out-of-state students, are also conflicts for college students, he said.
ClipDart has the solution to all these problems, Perez said. The app is available 24/7 as long as a barber is on the app. Barbers go to the students and pricing is more affordable.
"(Students) don't really know where to get their hair cut" and might be insecure or unsafe in the area of a recommended barber, Reich said. "So the availability of having a barber come to you helps a lot."
The company's biggest goal is to build itself at ASU, Perez said, because of its prominence nationally and internationally. With a large minority foundation, ClipDart hopes to lend a hand and provide quality haircare.
"It's not just a service. It's a way of who we are, it's part of our culture, and, for some of us here, it's part of our identity."
Reach the reporter at Lamartzh@gmail.com and follow @Hlamartz on Twitter.
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