Carlos Quintero celebrates 51 years as a master barber

Photo by Daniel Dreifuss

The Bay Area native found his niche by following in his father’s footsteps

By Pamela Dozois

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Carlos Quintero, owner of Carlos Hair Grooming for Men, celebrated 51 years of professional career as a barber on January 1.

A native of the Bay Area, native son of Alameda and second of seven children, he says as a child he felt sandwiched between his older brother, who was a genius, and his younger sister, who was beautiful. He had a learning disability and hated school.

“High school was not for me. I was dyslexic and a terrible student, ”Quintero said. “While I was still in high school, I made an agreement with the Dean of Boys at Grant Continuation School to allow me to attend high school classes in the morning, then go to hairdressing college for the rest.” of the day and the evening. I received course credit for attending Oakland Moller Barber College, which allowed me to graduate from high school. ”

Quintero said the idea of ​​going to college as a barber came from the fact that his father was a barber, and when Carlos saw how successful he was, he wanted to follow in his footsteps.

“Things were different then. Being a barber was considered a skilled profession, ”he said. “She had a status on the social ladder. Today, for the most part, it is considered a profession.

“To become a barber back then, you had to go to barber college, take the California state exams to get your license to initially become an apprentice,” Quintero said. “You could work as a barber, but only under the supervision of a master barber. After a two-year apprenticeship, one had to pass another exam to become a journeyman. Only then could you work alone in a store without supervision.

“The next step to becoming a master barber required another exam. I was told I was the youngest apprentice, journeyman and master barber in the State of California at the age of 20.

He worked with his father for a year, but claimed that “we were too alike, so I ventured out on my own”.

After a stint in the Marines in 1967 with the reserve program, Quintero worked at various locations in Alameda to improve various skills and techniques.

“My dad said it was better not to stay in a store for more than a year because different ethnicities have different hair types and I need to learn more about all hair types and keep improving my skills “, explained Quintero. “So that’s what I did.

Carlos Quintero, owner of Carlos Hair Grooming for Men, celebrated 51 years of professional career as a barber on January 1. Photo by Daniel Dreifuss

Eventually he moved to San Francisco and worked at Bullock & Jones, a leading men’s haberdashery with an upscale indoor barber shop.

“Word spread about my skills and Vidal Sassoon and Jay Sebring came to visit me because they heard about my job,” Quintero said. “This was before they created the Vidal Sassoon Salon and Academy and Sebring International Hairstyling Corp respectively. They offered me a job but I said no because I was married and had a newborn baby and also, I was part of a large family that lived in the Bay Area.

“I saved every penny I earned, settling for water instead of spending money on a cup of coffee,” Quintero continued. “Eventually I was able to buy a foreclosed home with the help of a private lender at an interest rate of seven and a quarter percent. I fixed this house and sold it. I paid $ 12,000 for it and sold it four years later for $ 26,000. Like my father, I enjoyed real estate and knew about passive income.

He continued to work as a barber, but in the meantime he says he kept an eye on real estate and was eventually able to amass several assets.

“I wanted to open my own hair salon and stay close to my investments,” he explained. “I opened a store in Alameda and then bought a store in Oakland on Piedmont Avenue. I stayed in Oakland for most of my career. I continued to invest in real estate and was very successful, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I lost most of my holdings in the mid-1980s. ”

In an adventure straight out of a detective story, which included jealousy, revenge, mistaken identity and a foray into the world of three-letter government agencies, Quintero was able, after a seven-year battle , restore its reputation and reputation. However, this battle cost almost everything he had worked hard for over 26 years. During those seven years he continued to work as a barber, becoming almost homeless, but was eventually able to rebuild and recreate his life.

“One day my son called me and asked if I wanted to move to Santa Barbara, where he was attending UCSB,” Quintero said. “My first day in Santa Barbara, I was offered three different jobs at three different hair salons. So I called my real estate broker and said sell everything. It was 16 years ago.

“I had heard of a store that ‘maybe’ was for sale and I only wanted to work part time in Santa Barbara. I came to Solvang to take a look. I liked what I saw so I bought it. Now I work full time and am happy in my pseudo-retirement.

“I love what I do and I really appreciate all of my clients and friends. Nielsen’s Center is a perfect place for me, ”said Quintero. “My shop is the last male stronghold in a hectic production world. For me, it’s all about personal attention.

Carlos Hair Grooming for Men is located at 606 Alamo Pintado Road, Suite 4, Solvang. For more information, call 805-688-3220.

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