The Culture Crush
Society Is Everybody's Business
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Chicago Deep Cuts

photographs by Terence Guider
interviews by Alonzo Avila

The Windy City—Chicago, rich in culture and full of soul. A city known most notably for its architecture and delicious deep-dish pizza. A liberal art-hive which journeys throughout the city’s transit Loop, but is unable to escape a deathly shadow of its infamous South Side. A city demanding justice for those impacted by gun violence.

And the solution? A certain subculture in Chicago is choosing activism as their counter response. Who are they? A generation of barbers determined to show humanity in their own communities.

These barber-prenuers are not just cutting to make more than minimum wage. They are using their business platforms and culture to shape their communities by addressing the inescapable social conflicts all around them. Their compass goal is to spread love in the North Side, East Side, West Side, and South Side, and finally change the headlines. 


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 “Currently, I have twenty working barbers, and we are here to cut. My team brings the business. My barbershop is culture. Period.”  - Israel Torres

“Currently, I have twenty working barbers, and we are here to cut. My team brings the business. My barbershop is culture. Period.” - Israel Torres

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 “Our business practices volunteerism: coat drives, food drives, advocating for little league teams, cancer foundations, college campus events and supporting our veterans. We are privileged more than others in this world. We have a platform to set an example. Especially now more than ever. Plus, I have a great team of barbers, and they don’t all have just one color of skin.”

“Our business practices volunteerism: coat drives, food drives, advocating for little league teams, cancer foundations, college campus events and supporting our veterans. We are privileged more than others in this world. We have a platform to set an example. Especially now more than ever. Plus, I have a great team of barbers, and they don’t all have just one color of skin.”

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 His shop is a platinum trombone to his community. Born and raised in the Latino-Chicago village, he began cutting hair during his teenage years, and that’s when everyone started knowing his name. “Growing up in a lower income family. I couldn’t afford to get a haircut, so I learned how to cut my own hair. Then my friends wanted me to cut their hair and I realized, I was a barber. My first goal was to become a licensed barber. I’m platinum now.”

His shop is a platinum trombone to his community. Born and raised in the Latino-Chicago village, he began cutting hair during his teenage years, and that’s when everyone started knowing his name. “Growing up in a lower income family. I couldn’t afford to get a haircut, so I learned how to cut my own hair. Then my friends wanted me to cut their hair and I realized, I was a barber. My first goal was to become a licensed barber. I’m platinum now.”

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 “It’s 2019 and barbers aren’t just men. My barbershop has a woman barber, Savannah, and her clientele is up there. Little girls will look up to her and should. We welcome all genders in my barbershop. It’s about self-expression and I encourage everybody to express themselves to a certain extent, though I’m still the boss.”

“It’s 2019 and barbers aren’t just men. My barbershop has a woman barber, Savannah, and her clientele is up there. Little girls will look up to her and should. We welcome all genders in my barbershop. It’s about self-expression and I encourage everybody to express themselves to a certain extent, though I’m still the boss.”


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 Most clients strongly agree that walking into Israel’s barbershop without an appointment is like jumping on I-55 during five-o’clock traffic. On the weekends, you’ll find Israel and more than half the Platinum staff cutting, their clients smiling, well before the capes are even off. It’s effortless. But ultimately, Israel’s love for his Mexican culture and unique leadership are what keeps the doors open. It’s almost comic seeing new clients walk into Israel’s barbershop expecting a leather seat to be empty the moment they finish writing their names on the waiting list.

Most clients strongly agree that walking into Israel’s barbershop without an appointment is like jumping on I-55 during five-o’clock traffic. On the weekends, you’ll find Israel and more than half the Platinum staff cutting, their clients smiling, well before the capes are even off. It’s effortless. But ultimately, Israel’s love for his Mexican culture and unique leadership are what keeps the doors open. It’s almost comic seeing new clients walk into Israel’s barbershop expecting a leather seat to be empty the moment they finish writing their names on the waiting list.


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 Since becoming a shop owner of Seven26, located in Cicero, one of the few Latino communities near Chicago, Juan Acevedo has taken on the challenge to influence with positivity and encourage other barbers across Chicago to do the same in their communities. In 2014, Juan launched the very first 24 hour Chicago barber charity event,  #CuttingtheNegativity , which helped fund his former elementary school.  He created the event to challenge local barbers to donate their time and money by cutting hair for free. For almost five years, Juan and his no negativity movement have traveled across the country, asking barbers to put their egos and wallets aside and cut hair out of love. Due to violent headlines in Chicago he decided to bring  #CuttingtheNegativity  back home. The Latino business owner has set a new goal for himself, to make the barber charity event more than just a hashtag.

Since becoming a shop owner of Seven26, located in Cicero, one of the few Latino communities near Chicago, Juan Acevedo has taken on the challenge to influence with positivity and encourage other barbers across Chicago to do the same in their communities. In 2014, Juan launched the very first 24 hour Chicago barber charity event, #CuttingtheNegativity, which helped fund his former elementary school.

He created the event to challenge local barbers to donate their time and money by cutting hair for free. For almost five years, Juan and his no negativity movement have traveled across the country, asking barbers to put their egos and wallets aside and cut hair out of love. Due to violent headlines in Chicago he decided to bring #CuttingtheNegativity back home. The Latino business owner has set a new goal for himself, to make the barber charity event more than just a hashtag.

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 In May of 2016, a horrific act of gun-violence took place inside Sunni Powell’s Barber Shop which shook him and the entire community. Sunni chose to stay open, knowing business might never be quite the same. He continued using his space to encourage children to be independent thinkers by inviting Chicago artists to perform for the community.  In June 2018, Sunni helped relaunch  The Barber Cease Fire Movement , and commits to make it a recurring event each year. His passion for spreading knowledge and petitioning for peace has captured the attention of humanitarians, entertainers, and most importantly, the Chicago Police Department.  “I wanted to set a precedent for peace. All the barbers came together to give free haircuts for the kids, and to show the whole world what peace looks like in our community.”

In May of 2016, a horrific act of gun-violence took place inside Sunni Powell’s Barber Shop which shook him and the entire community. Sunni chose to stay open, knowing business might never be quite the same. He continued using his space to encourage children to be independent thinkers by inviting Chicago artists to perform for the community.

In June 2018, Sunni helped relaunch The Barber Cease Fire Movement, and commits to make it a recurring event each year. His passion for spreading knowledge and petitioning for peace has captured the attention of humanitarians, entertainers, and most importantly, the Chicago Police Department.

“I wanted to set a precedent for peace. All the barbers came together to give free haircuts for the kids, and to show the whole world what peace looks like in our community.”

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 “You cannot be a gangster and be a barber. You’re always in the same place.”

“You cannot be a gangster and be a barber. You’re always in the same place.”

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 “Black barber culture is the foundation of black-American businesses. This cultural thing. This cutting hair for people who look like you or for anyone who needs a haircut. Whether it be for style or a health thing, it’s precious for black culture.”

“Black barber culture is the foundation of black-American businesses. This cultural thing. This cutting hair for people who look like you or for anyone who needs a haircut. Whether it be for style or a health thing, it’s precious for black culture.”


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