Hairstyles have long been a distinguishing characteristic for each new generation and that is why Guelph barber Omar Williams strives to satisfy his older clientele’s style choices while keeping up with the latest cuts for their children and grandchildren.
“Hairstyles have definitely changed over the years,” said Williams. “I remember in Jamaica they used to take me to the barbershop and I would watch how they’d do hair tattoos and things like that. I can’t say I knew I was going to be a barber but I soak up everything. You show me one thing - the next day you will see me doing it. It’s just how I am.”
It wasn’t long before he picked up a comb and scissors and started mastering the skills he’d soaked up.
“It is a talent I’ve had since I was young,” said Williams. “I started cutting my Dad’s hair then I started building my clientele when I was 14. Some of those clients still come to me to this day.”
Williams was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1994 and moved to Guelph with his father Merrick Williams when he was nine years old. He continued to grow his hair-cutting clients throughout high school but his main focus was on sports.
“I did a lot of high school sports, rugby, football, everything really,” he said. “I went to College Heights and Centennial is right next door so I just decided to join the team. It was pretty competitive for us. We all took it pretty seriously.”
He scored a lot of points on the field but he didn’t have the same enthusiasm for classes.
“I wasn’t very good in school,” he said. “Actually, I didn’t enjoy school. I wanted to play football but obviously that didn’t work out. I fell back to this and I have been doing it ever since.”
Many of his teammates became regular customers joining the growing list of loyal clients who followed him from chair to chair at different shops in the city.
“I worked for a few other barbershops but I got tired of paying for chairs,” he said. “That’s when I just decided to set off on my own.”
His mother, Andrea Williams, helped him with his business branding and two months ago he opened Omar Williams Barber Shop on Macdonell Street.
“We specialize in skin fades but I do everything,” he said. “There are people that specialize in what I do as well but you have to see my artwork. I do a lot of designs for hair tattoos and all that. Not a lot of people can do that.”
He uses social media and Instagram to attract young customers who are looking for new and distinctive ways to style their hair.
“A lot of the younger people are going to Instagram and if you go there and look at the difference between the haircuts you can see the quality,” he said. “My fades are on point. My hair tattoos are on point and my business haircuts are on point as well.”
It is common for him to be doing a Mohawk fade cut on a young boy while the boy’s father and grandfather wait for their turn in the chair – each expecting Williams to apply the same care and quality toward their preferred style.“One of the haircuts I used to struggle with was scissor cuts,” he said. “I am too good with the scissors now because I practiced like crazy. It’s all about perfecting something, you know. I wasn’t always good at what I was doing but I always learned and watched people over and over and over again until I got what I was doing.”