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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Barbershop owner dives into local politics while facing pandemic

Desiree Erdmann
Erin Guereña trims up long-time returning client Tyler Silvestre’s hair on Nov. 19, 2020 at Haven Barber Shop at 1924 De La Vina St. in Santa Barbara, Calif. “I don’t even need to look at it,” Silvestre said to Guereña. “Your hair cuts are perfect every time.”

When Erin Guereña first told her mom her goal was to cut hair for a living, the two didn’t speak for at least three weeks.

“I’ve wanted to cut hair since I was 16,” she said.

Guereña attended City College fresh out of high school and initially thought about entering the cosmetology program to pursue a career as a barber, but said she “just didn’t feel right doing it.”

It took a negative experience at a barbershop nearly 16 years ago for Guereña to decide that not only would she cut hair for a living—she would open up her own shop.

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When Guereña and her husband,  Alex, graduated from barber school, two chairs at The Palms Barber Shop became available. Alex would go to the shop every day after school to mingle with the clientele and to make sure no one else came in to claim the chairs.

His persistence paid off, and the two worked there for six years, honing their skills and learning the trade first-hand.

“Every walk of life came into that barbershop,” she said.

Although they were happy at that shop, Guereña’s vision of her own shop was always on her mind.

“I always told my husband that I wanted to open a barbershop next to Cajun Kitchen on De La Vina,” she said.

Eventually, Guereña’s vision manifested and she got the exact spot at 1924 De La Vina, and with the help of friends and family, started turning it into her dream shop, now called Haven Barber & Shop.


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By day the two still worked at The Palms, working on revamping the old appliance shop in their spare time.

“On the weekends we were at the shop for 12-14 hours just patching holes, painting, decorating,” she said. “That place was built with our blood sweat and tears.”

They finally opened their doors last October but were forced to shut down just four months later when the pandemic suddenly hit, forcing similar businesses across the country to close.

“No one ever told me there was going to be a global pandemic and barbering was going to be one of the hardest-hit industries,” she said.

Still, Guereña said none of the hardships she’s encountered along her journey overpower the fulfillment she gets from being her own boss.

“I have business ideas like every five minutes,” she said. “It’s important to have vision.”

Guereña’s vision has expanded and she applied this same mentality when she ran for the Area 3 seat of the City College Board of Trustees during the November election.

She received an immense amount of community support but ultimately lost to incumbent Veronica Gallardo in the county’s closest contest by only 74 votes.

Going into the race, she said she was optimistic but along the way quickly learned about the budget, enrollment and other issues that the campus is dealing with.

“I lost 40 pounds from the election stress,” she said. “I cracked my tooth on election night.”

Although she didn’t get the Trustees seat, she said she is still going to be involved in the community and be an advocate for locals like her.

“I’ve always been interested in the direction Santa Barbera’s going,” she said. “I want to help however I can.”

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