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A grandfather, clippers and a legacy

WSU+Senior+Nichio+Bryant+cuts+hair+in+a+client%E2%80%99s+home+as+part+of+his+door-to-door+business+plan%2C+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+17%2C+2013.+Bryant+inherited+his+clippers+from+his+grandfather.
WSU Senior Nichio Bryant cuts hair in a client’s home as part of his door-to-door business plan, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Bryant inherited his clippers from his grandfather.

WSU Senior Nichio Bryant cuts hair in a client’s home as part of his door-to-door business plan, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Bryant inherited his clippers from his grandfather.

WSU Senior Nichio Bryant cuts hair in a client’s home as part of his door-to-door business plan, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Bryant inherited his clippers from his grandfather.

By Alex Madison

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Senior Nichio Bryant learned to cut hair by watching his grandfather. Now he works as a mobile barber, catering to people throughout Pullman and WSU.

His mode of transportation? A bicycle.

Bryant said he was bored during a summer session in Pullman when he formed the idea as a way to make some extra money.

“I’m the dude that cuts everybody’s hair,” he said.

Abe Winston is Bryant’s grandfather. “The King of the Castle,” as Bryant referred to him, owned a barber shop in southern Seattle for more than 30 years.

“Everyone in south Seattle knows who my grandpa is,” Bryant said.

Raised in a family of ten on a cotton farm in Rayville, La., Winston moved to the Seattle area when he was 19 years old in hopes of finding stable employment.

While working for Boeing as a welder, Winston graduated from a barbering school and worked part-time as a barber. He opened Abe & Dex’s Barber Shop in 1962.

Winston, 86, is now retired. He said he loves to spend time with his eight grandchildren, especially the one who cuts hair.

“I’ve been cutting all them’s hair since they were born,” Winston said of his grandchildren.

Bryant said he remembers going to “Papa’s house” every week for a haircut.

“Every time I went to get a haircut, he always had something new to show me,” he said.

Bryant has cut hair using his grandfather’s clippers since last fall. He said his list of clients grows longer every semester. In order to reach those clients, he rides a bike to locations of their choosing.

“People started saying, ‘Eh, that dude gives the cuts,’ and I do,” he said.

For $5 per person, Bryant cuts a variety of hair styles including fades, edges, and trim-ups. He said he prides himself on ensuring his customers are satisfied with their cuts.

“I do anything you want me to,” he said. “I’m gonna do it one step at a time, and ask you if it’s all right.”

People who go to him leave with more than haircuts; they leave with an experience, Bryant’s friend Riley Quinn said.

“There’s never a dead moment with him,” Quinn said. “He always has something cool or new to talk about.”

Bryant said the social aspect of his job is what keeps him booking up to 35 appointments per week.

“It gives me a good way to get out and meet people and not have to get drunk,” he said.

Socializing aside, Bryant said he takes his job quite seriously. He said barbering is his first foray into self-employment and the first time he has felt financially independent.

“Cutting hair has definitely given me a different perspective on my life,” Bryant said. “I have a better understanding of what it’s actually like to survive on your own and what it takes.”

Bryant will graduate in May with Bachelors of Arts degrees in communication and Spanish. He said he is unsure whether he sees barbering in his future.

“I’m good at making people happy, and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

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A grandfather, clippers and a legacy