CLEVELAND — Damon Turk, a local barber, is serving fresh cuts with special care. Turk owns a mobile barbershop allowing him to make things easier for families caring for loved ones with special needs.
“For children, adults [and] really anyone with sensory difficulties you know sometimes it’s a challenge to go to the barbershop. The waiting, the loud noises can be a lot for them,” Turk said.
Though, with the help of his mobile barbershop, Turk caters to their needs using various tools and clippers that may be easier for them to endure during a haircut. He says getting to know his clients beforehand also helps.
“Families usually reach out to us or schools. We have an intake form that we send to parents and they sent that in. I’d like to know ahead of time their likes, their dislikes [or] anything I can be aware of before the cut,” he said. “I spend time with them. I don’t just you know get right to the haircuts [because] I know it’s going to be maybe a hard time for them.”
Turk’s mobile shop currently serves clients with special needs in 11 counties. In the past month alone, he says he has given more than 600 haircuts. His clients range in age from 18 months to 72 years old.
When clients become family
Many of Turk’s clients are former students, including Taylor Wright.
“I’ve been cutting his hair for many years,” Turk said. “[Taylor] is 26 years old and he is on the spectrum. He has autism.”
Over the years, Turk says he and Wright have built a routine. After every haircut, the two go to Applebees. It’s Wright’s favorite.
But there’s more to their relationship than fresh cuts and an order of chicken tenders. As Turk shared, “my wife and I will be his guardians here in the future.”
The journey to “The Mobile Barber”
Turk was an educator who taught students with special needs for 12 years.
“Originally, I wanted to go to school for physical therapy. [I] attended the University of Toledo. After my freshman year I came home in the summer [and] I volunteered at summer camp for special-needs and fell in love,” Turk said.
But Turk says during the pandemic when schools shut down, he rediscovered another passion.
“I started at an early age cutting my hair,” he said. “I always had a passion for cutting hair. So, I went to barber school during that time.”
Though Turk says he never lost sight of those he taught and cared for. It’s why he now caters to them full-time, but this time through his love for cutting hair.
“As many families as I can help the better,” he said. “I’m here for life this is it. This is it.”