Luther College provides expert haircuts for students of color who struggle to find a barber locally

For some students of color, it can be difficult to find a barber who is experienced in cutting their hair. That's why Luther College contracts with a service called ClipDart, which, according to its creator, is the equivalent of "an Uber for barbers."

            "For several years we worked with local businesses to find solutions to the lack of barbers and hairdressers who could work with black hair. Unfortunately, all efforts failed to produce tangible sustainable results," said Wintlett Taylor-Browne, director of the Center for Intercultural Engagement and Student Success at Luther College. "Fortunately, in the spring of 2021, we were able to start a barbershop pilot program at Luther utilizing ClipDart. The student's response was so overwhelmingly positive that we decided to continue offering the service."

            Something seemingly superficial, like not being able to get a haircut, can have a negative impact on one's well-being. "Not being able to get a haircut genuinely puts me in a mood that 'isn't me' and my friends and teammates notice the drop in my energy and confidence," said Myke Shed, a junior at Luther College.

            Daniel Webster, another junior at Luther, echoes that sentiment. "When I finally do get a cut, it boosts my emotional well-being and improves my self-image." He says prior to this service, the closest barber he felt comfortable with was at least an hour and 30 minutes away. Webster also points out that this service has helped him financially as Luther foots the bill.

            Gill Jordan is the master barber behind the chair at Luther; a chair he donated to the college in order to expertly provide his services. Jordan makes the trek from his barbershop, Uncle Gill's Cutz, in Rochester, Minnesota, to Decorah every other Monday to cut hair and connect with a full schedule of students.

            "I feel like an uncle to them. That's why I named my barbershop Uncle Gill's. I love to be inspiring and to be that person they can talk to," said Jordan.

            Shed appreciates the connection as much as the haircut.

"For me, barbershop talk is much more than sports, work, and guy talk. Back home, my barber and I talk about life, business opportunities, relationships, politics, religion, school, stocks, literally everything under the sun. I can’t even begin to describe how much I appreciate him and our relationship," said Shed. "The relationship I have with my barber back home is the relationship I'm starting to gain with Unc [Jordan], as each time I’m scheduled to get a cut our conversations get deeper and more genuine, and that is something I feel makes the whole barber-client relationship unique."

Luther College, in partnership with ClipDart, is proud to continue to provide this service to its students of color now and into the future.

About Luther College

Luther College is home to about 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

Gill Jordan cuts a student's hair
Gill Jordan