Stephan “Step the Barber” Swearingen and his staff of barbers do more than just operate clippers. The four-member team at Plush Midtown Barber and Beauty Salon in Atlanta banters with customers about sports while ESPN is on TV, politics as they check Twitter and Instagram on their phones, music that’s playing over the Bluetooth speakers, and the lunch menu from the food truck that dropped by.
The talk gets personal. Once clients sit in their barbers’ chairs, they open up about family and relationship drama, careers and educational pursuits. Like so many Black barbershops in the U.S., Plush Midtown is a safe and warm space, where men of all walks of life gather as much for gabbing as for grooming.
“It’s a place where clients can come unload,” Swearingen told HuffPost. “Barbers become therapists. We hear about clients’ issues. If clients trust you with their hair, then they trust you with what’s going on inside their mind.” . . .