Brooks Crossing Apartments is home to a beautiful waterfront view, the UR Rowing team’s facility, air-conditioned rooms, and now a barbershop run by senior Oswald “Ozzy” Alexander Garcia joins its long list of amenities.
Walking into the ‘barbershop,’ you’ll be greeted by Garcia with an apron on and clippers in hand, a barber chair, a full professional clipping set, and customers chatting with Ozzy’s latest DJ set in the background.
Garcia started cutting hair during his junior year of high school after his sister gave him a pair of clippers she had lying around. He spent his time learning from barber videos by 360Jeezy on YouTube about different hair textures and styles. That learning took trial and error, and he spent his time practicing on his younger cousin, much to both of their detriment, but he never intended it to be a business.
He came into college as an Electrical and Computer Engineering Major and spent his time in the Spanish and Latino Students’ Association (SALSA), where he’s currently their Social Media Manager, at the Kearns Center as a student worker, and working as a part-time DJ.
His journey cutting hair on campus began sophomore year, with mainly roommates and close friends coming in for a trim and a chat, but his hobby fully developed into CutzbyOzzy earlier this year. Barbers in Rochester are expensive, he noticed, especially for college students, which incentivized him to expand his hobby to a fully-fledged business.
Garcia was invited to promote his business at SALSA’s Latin Week Business Expo, which features student businesses showcasing their work in Hirst Lounge. He ended up cutting hair right there in Wilson Commons and gained a couple of customers as a result.
Garcia is busy, with appointments booked usually a week in advance on Calendly. Customers can pay $18 for a full haircut and $5 for a line-up. His business grows mostly through the word-of-mouth of his clients, who are mainly first-years.
“I fell in love with transformation,” Garcia said. “Like makeup, haircuts are a full transformation for people, and seeing that is what got me interested in cutting hair.”
To Garcia, it’s about creating the feel of walking into an actual barbershop, it’s about offering camaraderie, mentorship, and friendship to his clients. He’s found over time that clients start breaking out of their shells and coming to him with their problems.
“Seeing as most of the clients are freshmen, I like to give them advice… try to explain my own experience and promote student organizations because I felt that enhanced my experience,” he said. “I led them through things I encountered on the way — internships, scholarships, job opportunities, and questions.”
He is currently planning to upgrade his barbershop with a newer chair and provide snacks and drinks to clients, but other than preparing for his switch from school to the workforce, he recently accepted a full-time offer at Arm, a technology provider of processor IP, where he interned over the summer.
“I can just never stay put,” he said. “I always like to do things and be versatile in different domains… Apart from being an engineer, [the barbershop] is truly me.”