New VMI Barbershop Is Part of the Pride
LEXINGTON, Va., Aug. 27, 2012 – It was new experiences all around at the VMI barbershop on Matriculation Day, Aug. 18.
Manager Glenda Dudley and her staff of barbers and cosmetologists, who’ve come on duty over the past several months, had their first taste of what it’s like to give more than 500 haircuts in one day. And for most of the new cadets, it was a first experience at assembly-line grooming.
“We started at 3:30,” said Dudley, “and we had six chairs going. … It was crazy busy, but I thought it went really well.” Dudley’s staff consists of a core team of four part-time barbers, with more she can call in as needed. More were needed.
Most of the cadets appeared in good spirits, said Dudley, and even if a few were chagrined by their loss of locks, she said, “The experience and the learning and the growing that they’re going to do while they’re at VMI is worth a haircut.”
New uniforms – smocks, aprons, and polo shirts bearing the VMI emblem – and new wall vacuum clippers, in addition to new paint, have the barbershop looking good.
“It’s a very professional atmosphere. We are state-licensed, so there is a high standard for sanitation,” said Dudley, noting that the changes go deeper than appearances.
In the past, the VMI barbershop has been staffed primarily with barbers, who are trained in men’s hair cutting and straight-razor shaving. The cosmetologists on the new staff are trained in women’s hair design. Also on call is a licensed esthetician, a skin specialist.
For the new cadets coming in, the biggest change was for the women, who received cuts specifically designed for pulling back neatly, even at the regulation 1 1/2 inches above the collar. Having long enough hair in the front to pull back easily is important, said Dudley: “They’re only issued two clips.”
Dudley is accustomed to cutting to regulations, having done military haircuts wherever her husband was stationed during his 23-year Army career. More recently, she worked at Salon DC in downtown Lexington.
With a staff experienced at cutting women’s hair to military regulations, Dudley is expecting more female cadets to return time and time again.
Indeed, haircuts, like meals and uniforms, are covered in cadets’ fees. “We wanted to be able to provide a service for the male and female cadets,” said Col. David Hough, director of auxiliary services. “We’re here to make sure the cadets present a neat military appearance as delimited in the Blue Book.”
Hough said he hopes to see more of the cadets making use of the services provided by the barbershop. Another group he’d like to see occupying the chairs in the shop is VMI faculty and staff.
“I’m providing a full salon service that they would go downtown and lose their parking spot for,” said Dudley. A new barbershop brochure lists affordable prices for men’s and women’s haircuts and other services expected in a full-service barbershop or salon. “Cadets can use these services as long as they are within regulations,” said Dudley.
Faculty and staff should call the shop at 464-7792 to make appointments. And, what with sun damage, wind damage, and chemical damage, Dudley urges many to do so: “It’s good for your hair to cut it off.”
As the semester begins, Dudley looks forward to seeing cadets looking sharp.
“These haircuts are part of that uniform,” she said. “When we look at the Parade Ground and see them standing there, we’re part of that, part of that pride in uniform.”