Barbershop aims to elevate culture and cultivate confidence

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

On the outskirts of the Claremont Village, near the Indian Hill Boulevard railroad crossing, residents once frequented a barbershop called The Statesman Barber Lounge. While the shop closed its doors in March of 2021, the barbering practices that once occupied the unit remain thanks to its latest tenant, Clips on 66.

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The shop is owned and operated by Latino area natives Josue Navarro and David Nunez, and is still in its infancy in Claremont, having just opened in mid-October. Besides offering the standard haircut for men, Nunez, Navarro and the other barbers at the shop offer mustache, eyebrow and beard care, line ups, bleach and dye services, texturizing and more, each cut ending with a hot towel treatment.

According to Navarro, the Claremont store co-owner, Clips on 66 aims to “elevate the entire culture of barbering” and wants to “cultivate confidence” among Claremont youth though haircuts and big brotherly advice for up-and-coming barbers.

“There’s a lot of students around here. I see a lot of the high schoolers walking up and down, I just want this to be a safe haven for them,” Navarro said. “[Our] mission statement says it all pretty much. We want to cater to the community. We want to cater to the young, middle and the older generation. We just want to pretty much touch as many lives as possible in a positive way.”

The company’s mission is to “restore professionalism and passion in the barber culture to enhance confidence for the creation of a stronger community,” according to Nunez.

“I feel like barbers’ kind of get like a bad rep[utation] … of like drinking, cussing, smoking on the job. We’re not about that,” Navarro added. “We just want to be as professional as possible and just want to elevate our craft … and job title as a barber.”

The Claremont shop is the second location of Clips on 66, with the first in Rancho Cucamonga at 9116 Foothill Boulevard. While it’s rather obvious, iconic Route 66 is where the barbershop draws its name.

That stretch of pavement from Chicago to Santa Monica is also what the barbers hope to conquer with their business, according to Duane Houston, the Rancho Cucamonga shop owner.

“The original idea was to build this franchise along Route 66. We decided though that that wasn’t going to be the most feasible thing, so … we said we’re going to bend a little bit on that,” Houston said. “We still don’t want to stray too far away from that … Hopefully with some luck we’ll be able to reach Santa Monta and all the kind of area in the country all the way to Chicago to New York. Who knows?

“As of right now, probably like a five-year plan is to build maybe another three or four shops heading out to Santa Monica,” Houston said.

Nunez and Houston are Rancho Cucamonga natives and both became self-taught barbers early on in their teenage years. All three barbers met and received proper training at another Rancho barbershop, Big Mike’s.

Once they became skilled at barbering, and built up a small pool of support in their hometown, Nunez and Houston opened up the first Clips on 66 on September 9, 2017 and employed Navarro “in a heartbeat.”

“We all saw something in each other as far as work ethic, talent, and most importantly character. I think we have a character-[run] business,” Houston said.

Four years after opening their first location, Clips on 66 opened in Claremont. While most of the shop’s clientele is still based in Rancho Cucamonga, Nunez said the City of Trees has always been on the small company’s radar.

“[A Claremont store] was always kind of the plan when we decided that we were going to brand using Route 66. We kind of decided that we wanted to go west and a city I always thought was cool and admired was Claremont,” Nunez said. “[Claremont] was the next target for us.”

As the minority-owned and operated business grows over the years, the barbers’ plan is either to be bought out by a larger holding company or become their own iconic commercial brand. Whichever happens first

“This [shop] is like a stepping stone to open up more stores,” Nunez said. “We’re not at that level yet but [a holding company] is going to have like a stake of this business and the other business, a piece of that if that makes sense, a percentage.”

Houston echoed a similar message, but admitted it is still going to be a huge cost financially trying to achieve the company’s dream of setting up its chain of barbershops along California’s most notable highway. Fortunately, Clips on 66 is off to a solid start, setting up two stores in just four years.

“We want to do things for the sake of making an impact,” Houston said about the business. “Clips on 66 … it’s a passion project. None of it’s for the sake of greed.”

The future bodes well for Clips on 66 as the company was able to withstand the curveball that was COVID-19 business closures, according to Nunez.

Nunez, a co-owner of both locations and co-founder of Clips on 66, has a stake in both shops. Houston, the other co-founder, is currently overseeing the original location’s services while Navarro and Nunez steer the Claremont location through its early stages.

Clips on 66 in Claremont is located at 1 N. Indian Hill Blvd., Unit 105. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (909) 447-0602 or visit www.clipson66.com. On weekdays, students can receive a five-dollars-off student discount. New customers can enter the code ‘New20’ on the shop’s mobile app to receive 20% off their first haircut.

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