Yamba's newest barber David Prosser.
Yamba's newest barber David Prosser.

Barber brings New York style to Yamba

DAVID Prosser had secretly dreamed about being a barber for almost 30 years. This yearning developed after visiting an amazing barber shop in New York City.

David had arrived in the Big Apple to visit a friend, a fellow Aussie who had been living there for more than 17 years. Being an Aboriginal person he knew he looked different to everyone else so he decided he wanted to blend in rather than stand out. He spoke to his friend about it and his response was "you need a good haircut". In those days David had shoulder-length hair.

His friend took him to an African-American-owned barber shop. David says it was like being in a sitcom. There were five elderly black men "talking cool" to each other in the back, a barber with a very flamboyant style and a sense of community within the barber shop. (Funnily enough there was a sitcom in the 1970s called That's My Mama that was very similar to the scene that David describes).

Impressed with his haircut, he returned to the barbers each week over the seven weeks of his stay, to maintain the haircut. The same groovy old guys were there every time. "It was like they never went home," David said.

David said he was treated like a king and each week looked forward to his next visit to the shop. He quickly became friends with the barbers and the regular customers. David really felt at home there.

On the plane back to Australia David thought that he too, would love to be a barber. However, the reality of everyday life meant that he had to return to his job as a teacher, working in schools such as Bowraville Central and Nambucca High School.

David went on to teach Gumbaynngirr and Yaegl languages in high schools and at TAFE and to teach the Diploma of Aboriginal Studies, Certificate IV in Governance and Certificate III and IV in Child Studies at TAFE.

Concerned about job security, after a restructure of TAFE two years, David discussed in his career options with his partner Graham. That's when David voiced his long-held dream of becoming a barber. His partner said: "Why don't you do it then?" But David wasn't ready to take that step back then. Sadly Graham died of cancer not too long after.

After Graham's death, David decided to move on from teaching to work helping Aboriginal people to obtain employment. While David really loved his job, he didn't agree with the viewpoint of the organi- sation who he worked for. He left his job but began to wonder how he was going to make a living. He then heard Graham's voice saying: "You want to be a barber why don't you just do it?"

So he did. He undertook a six-month course, gaining a Statement of Attainment in Barbering. At first he was all thumbs, continually tangling the hair of the mannequin he was working on and nearly stabbing himself several times. But he finally got the hang of it and his confidence grew each day.

Not long after completing the course, he found out, through a friend Yamba Barber Shop was for sale. He approached Ofelia Benn at Many Rivers Micro Finance, who helped him the shop.

The shop starts trading under its new ownership on Monday. "I am really happy. I am following my heart because this is what I really want to do," David said.

David intends to create a friendly space where customers walk out with both a great haircut and a smile on their face, like the barber shop in New York City,

David certainly has the personality and drive to do this. He is keen to continue to refine his barber skills and is enthusiastic, friendly and quick to tell a joke - the ideal barber.

The Yamba Barber Shop is at 3A, 72-74 Yamba Rd, Yamba and is open from 8.30am to 5pm. No appointments are necessary and EFTPOS is available. For further information David can be contacted on 0413 783 562 or check out the Yamba Barber Shop Facebook page.

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