Most students arrive at school lugging textbooks, but one Lowell junior comes equipped with hair clippers.
Colin Sommerfield is a barber-in-training, and Lowell’s campus is his barbershop.
At the start of this school year, Sommerfield began offering free haircuts to other students, using his time at school to pursue his passion. With regular clients filling his free blocks, Sommerfield has become a recognizable figure on campus. His signature, classic-styled cuts can be seen across Lowell’s student body.
“These people come up to me and they’re like, ‘You’re Colin Cuts, that guy who gives haircuts!’”
Sommerfield’s interest in becoming a barber started with his own hair. Over the summer of 2017, he felt that his usual haircut no longer suited him. He disliked the modern, faded style that his barber gave him, so he began searching for an alternative look. “I started doing a lot of research on haircuts and hair in general and I would be like ‘Aw, ****, I want this haircut!’” he said. Online, he found classic styles that he wished to see on himself.
Sommerfield’s interest in hair became a desire to perform haircuts on other teens. Gifted with a hair tool kit for his 17th birthday, he began instruction under a family friend who owns Ingleside Barber Shop off of Ocean Avenue. He took tips and watched professionals at work, then filled the gaps in his knowledge using the internet.
Sommerfield uses hair clippers for his cuts. A still image from the above video
To begin cutting hair, Sommerfield needed willing participants as well as a location. When seeking these key factors, he looked no further than to Lowell itself. “Last year, I saw people cutting hair in the [boy’s] locker room,” he said. “I was like ‘What is going on?’” Back in his sophomore year, he was surprised to see others establishing Lowell’s campus as a pseudo-barbershop. He has not seen those students since, but he remembered them and used the boy’s locker room as the stage for his first cut. Before upgrading to his current cordless clipper, Sommerfield was limited to the locker room and courtyard tables within the distance of a power outlet.
Equipped with his enthusiasm and a hair clipper that he now describes as “total trash,” Sommerfield tracked down his test subjects. His first clients were his friends, who hesitantly agreed to let him practice on them. “It definitely took a lot of persuading,” Sommerfield said. “I took a lot of ‘no’s.”
Sommerfield’s first client needed a bit more than basic persuasion to agree to the experiment. When convincing a peer to be his guinea pig, the truth couldn’t cut it. “I told [my friend] that I’d given haircuts before,” he said. “I’d never touched anyone’s hair before.” This untruth gave the friend enough confidence to allow Sommerfield to put his bravado to the test. Forty minutes later, the product of his labor was a testament to Sommerfield’s efforts.
Junior Elijah Black, a long time friend of Sommerfield’s, was his second subject, but his confidence was difficult to gain. Black initially jokingly accepted an offered haircut, but did not take his peer seriously and quickly backed out. Eventually, the constant badgering wore down on Black. “He convinced me,” Black said. “He was like, ‘Elijah, I want to give you a haircut.’ And I was like, ‘No.’ And then he kind of kept pushing it and I eventually figured, ‘What the hell.’” Black is now an almost devoted regular. “I cheated on him once,” he said, documenting a recent but rare instance of replacing Sommerfield with a SuperCuts salon.
Another one of Sommerfield’s early clients is junior Nico Staudt, who was willing to let his friend use his hair for exercise. “The first time, I was pretty skeptical and I only agreed because I had a SuperCuts appointment right after,” Staudt said. With this buffer in place, he took a leap of faith and ended up canceling his plans for a clean-up cut. For Staudt, now a returning customer, the in-school trims coincide with lunch. He and his friends tend to hang around, eat, and listen to music with the hair clipper humming along.
Although he protests the title, Sommerfield’s courtyard cuts have made him somewhat of a minor celebrity at Lowell. “These people come up to me and they’re like, ‘You’re Colin Cuts, that guy who gives haircuts!’” Sommerfield said. “And I actually don’t know who they are and I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’” He often gives haircuts to strangers who recognize him from his Instagram page where he posts before and after pictures and videos of his work. His haircuts on occasion have attracted audiences, once drawing a crowd of 20–30 underclassmen. As a result word of mouth keeps him busy with new heads to shear and unfamiliar schoolmates to meet.
His haircuts on occasion have attracted audiences, once drawing a crowd of 20–30 underclassmen.
Sommerfield’s hobby has been noticed by peers and staff alike but collects contrasting responses. Administrators are less enamored of the student barber, but he has developed a mutual agreement with several staff members allowing him to continue his work on campus. PE teachers grant him access to the boy’s locker room under the condition that Sommerfield cleans up. He also works with the same terms in the courtyard, where guards will give him a difficult time if he doesn’t leave the floors spotless.
Sommerfield has a stacked schedule between classes and hair appointments that he schedules online and in-person. “I’m booked,” he said. These days, he finds himself refusing potential clients. He credits the quality and convenience of his at-school haircuts for filling his appointments. He currently performs an average of five haircuts a week, which are all done during his off blocks and after school. Now focusing on routine trims for his long-time friends as well as regular customers, he accepts minimal requests from unfamiliar students. His success has allowed him to attach a price tag to his efforts. As of Jan. 18 of this year, he charges five dollars for a cut.
For Sommerfield, time is a sought-after commodity. Although added practice and better clippers have made him more efficient, he still needs between 20 to 40 minutes to complete a cut. While he is proud of all of his work, Sommerfield believes that his performance is better when allotted more minutes. At his house over winter break, the barber took advantage of his free schedule. Given free reign over his friend’s hair and time, Sommerfield took over an hour to complete his masterpiece. “It was literally the most perfect haircut I could possibly give because I could just keep going over [the hair], you know what I mean?” he said. “It was my best haircut ever.”
Sommerfield started training to be a barber last summer. A still image from the above video
Sommerfield plans to dedicate more of his future in education to barbering. After a standard four years of college, he wants to attend a two-year barber college where he will learn everything from dying and styling hair to the scientific and medical aspects of the job.
“The real dream is eventually to own my own barbershop, go to work, cut people’s hair, go to the gym, and come home to a lovely wife and three kids,” he said.