Barbershops are staple businesses, and in some places they’re institutions in the African American communities.
Mark Robinson and his wife Noel, owners of Mark’s Barbershop, are continuing that legacy. Not only do they provide a place to obtain a fresh cut, but also, their shop offers youth some hands-on experience, affording them an opportunity to ‘cut’ their own successful path in life.
Robinson, a native of Richmond, was taught early on the responsibility of working hard, building a legacy, and passing on life lessons. In the 9th grade, while attending Kennedy High School, Robinson completed two essays discussing career interests. One career choice was the United States Post Office, where his father was employed for 45 years; the other discussed the career of a barber. After completing research, Robinson set a goal to become an owner of a barbershop.
“My mother was a hair stylist and it wore off on me. I found a barber college in Oakland. I attended the school and realized that I could make my own appointments, cut hair in 10-15 minutes, and make good money. I knew this was my career choice. Everybody needs a haircut,” said Robinson.
Growing up near Cutting Boulevard in the 1980’s, Robinson remembers at least ten black owned businesses on the street and how they inspired him to work hard and obtain his own barbershop. However, he knew that he did not want his barbershop to be looked upon as just another street corner business; he wanted to take his business to another level.
“I used to go into the malls and I would always see beauty shops but I never saw barbershops and I always wondered why. Barbershops are just as important and men like to look good too,” said Robinson; now both of his shops are conveniently located in Hilltop Mall.
Robinson has also been committed to not only sustaining a respectable business for the Richmond community but also teaching youth the importance of responsibility, professionalism, and service. Since his business opened 21 years ago, Robinson has employed more than fifty young black barbers and beauticians.
“I want the young people working here to see that this trade can become a career. By teaching the importance of organization, service, and consistency, it shows them how to not only build up their clientele but to hold onto their clientele so the customer will continue to come back,” said Robinson
With the shaky economy, Robinson admits that business has been like a rollercoaster, but he says that it’s the great professional service that continues to bring their customer’s back. Ultimately, Robinson is working towards opening a barbershop in all Bay Area malls.
Mark’s Barbershop is located in Hilltop Mall, near JCPenney’s and Macy’s. For more information, call 510.669.1882.