Columbus Clippers: Chevez Moman of Grooves Barber & Beauty

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

The barber chairs in Grooves Barber & Beauty, a trim, sparsely appointed shop tucked away in a nondescript shopping center off Livingston Avenue in Reynoldsburg, can serve countless functions.

At times, a chair can serve as a pulpit - "I've got this guy captivated for 15 to 30 minutes … where I get to be positive and spread the good word of God," said Chevez Moman, 46, who received his barber's license in early 2001 and has been cutting hair at Grooves for 15 months - while other times it might double as a therapist's couch.

"Except this one sits up straight," Moman said, and laughed.

All of these functions and more are encompassed by Moman's long-held trade motto: Come get your head right.

"It's more than just get your haircut. It's come get your head right and have some good conversation," said the South Side-born barber, who graduated from Central State University and worked at a financial institution for nearly a decade before quitting to pursue a career cutting hair in 1999. "You'll come in not freshly shaven and not feeling your best, and then you get that haircut, and someone pays a little attention to you and puts a smile on your face … and it's like, 'Oh, man! I feel great! I feel wonderful!'

"We have guys that come in that just lost their job, or the guy that's going through a breakup with his girlfriend, and we can laugh and joke and give him a good haircut and now he's ready to go. It's amazing what a good haircut can do for someone's outlook. We've had grown men come in and cry in the chair because this is the only time somebody paid attention to them."

On occasion, this transformation comes with an unintended consequence: A steady stream of forgotten baseball caps, fedoras and flat caps. At Berwick Barber Shop, where Moman started cutting hair professionally (he's been cutting hair for family and friends from the age of 13) in the late '90s, there was even a hat rack that doubled as a lost-and-found, though in reality it served strictly as the former.

"If you left your hat it went right up there," Moman said. "And, no, you can't come back and get it. It's part of the shop collection now. It's untouchable."

Moman was initially drawn to barbering by the shop camaraderie, which offered the type of social interaction he missed during those years where he logged long hours staring at a computer screen and working with ledgers.

"When I was behind a desk I felt like I was stuck," said Moman, who graduated from Ohio State College of Barber Styling in 2000. "No, I want to talk to people. I want to interact. I want to make a difference."

The barber traces his give-back spirit, which he further nurtured as an Eagle Scout, through his bloodlines, attributing it to both his grandmother ("She was like, 'You can get paid in more ways than money; you can get paid in blessings,'" he said) and his parents.

"My mom was the neighborhood babysitter," he said. "If you didn't have something at home, come to our house. Saturday mornings we wouldn't sit around and watch cartoons because we were about to help such and such at their house to do this and that."

Even now, Moman approaches his trade with the knowledge he can offer the community more than a quality cut, which is part of what has kept him working in shops in underserved neighborhoods on the city's south and east sides.

"That's another thing I like about barbering: you get to affect the youth," Moman said. "The barber might be the first business owner and entrepreneur you run into as a youth. He's at work. He's making money. He's part of the community."

And this means the entire community, Moman said, taking care to note the diversity of clientele he encounters on a daily basis.

"With this job you can't have any phobias and you can't have a problem with any people. None. Barbering, you touch ever-y-body," he said, emphasizing each syllable of the word for effect. "I tell people I touch everyone from the pimp to the preacher. And I'm dead serious. I touch everyone from the pimp to the preacher every day."

Grooves Barber & Beauty

6533 E. Livingston Ave.