Company boosts mental health through hair care services

Mar 16, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: 8:19 am

(Photo courtesy of ClipDart)...

(Photo courtesy of ClipDart)

(Photo courtesy of ClipDart)

PHOENIX — A good haircut is important, whether for feeling confident or making a positive first impression. However, finding a knowledgeable barber or stylist isn’t always easy depending on the texture of your hair.

A company called ClipDart hopes to change that.

Before ClipDart’s founder and CEO Kyle Parker started his own company, he played professional basketball and studied biology. For most of his life, he didn’t think much about hair care.

“I grew up in the south side of Chicago, and never had a problem finding a barber. … Finding a stylist,” he explained. “I went to a mostly Black barbershop, but if that wasn’t available, there would always be someone that was skilled at cutting ethnic hair.”

However, when Parker went to college in Iowa, he found himself without access to hair care tailored to his needs.

“I didn’t ever feel like myself, because I never felt that I looked like myself,” he said. “That can take a toll when you’re trying to talk to that special someone, that can take a toll on the basketball court when you see other people of color who have great haircuts.”

That experience led Parker to start ClipDart, which aims to connect people of color with haircuts and styling.

Parker worked on the business in his free time and taught himself the business basics.

ClipDart’s on-demand barber app was scheduled to launch in March 2020, but the pandemic threw a wrench in its plans.

“It was devastating for our team,” he remembered. “We couldn’t release the app but at the same time it was a blessing because we were able to realize that our mission is to improve mental wellness.”

Parker understood firsthand the importance of a good haircut to feeling one’s best, so he took the setback as an opportunity to expand ClipDart’s scope.

Now, in addition to the app, there’s also the ClipDart Giveback, a nonprofit connecting those in need with hair care services. The ClipDart Giveback has been selected as part of Maricopa County’s Community Advisory Board and will be participating in Arizona Gives Day in April.

“Hair care is a basic necessity, that’s what the [other] nonprofits are telling us. That’s what our neighbors in need are telling us,” Parker said.

In 2022, ClipDart provided 2,620 free haircuts across 11 states. In just the first two months of 2023, that number had already reached 935.

ClipDart also has agreements that connect barbers and stylists with businesses and institutions like the 30 universities they’re currently partnered with. Parker is now connecting students with the specialized hair care he could never find while he was in their shoes.

Starting and running ClipDart was a learning experience for Parker, but he put in the work to make it a reality.

“What I’ve learned most is that you can learn anything if you put your mind to it,” he said. “I didn’t know any of this stuff, but if you’re passionate and you love the work and you never stop, you’re going to figure it out.”

The experience also hammered home for him just how important a hairstyle can be.

“A haircut is just the bonus,” he explained. “It’s being in that barbershop, that hair salon, that cultural safe experience that you grew up with. It’s an emotional identity.”

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Company boosts mental health through hair care services