On the corner of East Market Street and Sherwood Drive is the first Indian-owned barber shop in Salinas.
Sounds of electric razors and casual conversations in different languages are heard as customers walk through the doors.
Behind the chair is Gabriel Toledano.
The 30-year-old Salinas man opened Barbería Mixteco five months ago. He has spent many days working to make a name for himself and secure a better future.
“I feel happy with my job of working in the barber shop and working in the Salinas camp,” he said. “I’ve been picking strawberries since I was 14. Although I like the work I’ve done, I’d love to leave it behind one day and focus on full-time barbering.”
Look for what brings you joy
Toledano’s first client was his brother three years ago. He hasn’t stopped cutting his hair since.
“I like to cut my hair because it gives me great joy to bring happiness to my clients,” Toledano said in Spanish. “If I’m able to do it every day, every week, every year, I couldn’t ask for a better job.”
When Toledano was a teenager he moved from Mexico to Oxnard and began working picking strawberries. He then worked in the fields of Salinas picking strawberries, asparagus and lettuce.
In April 2020, he began training to become a barber.
Toledano wanted to open the store because of the physical toll that agricultural work has on the body. I also wanted a place where other Mixtec speakers could come and feel comfortable while cutting their hair.
The store speaks three languages: Spanish, Low Mixtec and English. Mixtec is an ancient languageother than Spanish, which dates back to pre-Columbian times, Mixtec is spoken mainly in the Oaxaca region of Mexico.
“One of my goals was to open a store where people who speak an indigenous language could come in and cut their hair and feel good speaking in the language that is most comfortable for them,” he said.
Zapotec and Triqui are some of the most widely spoken indigenous languages in Monterey County. Behind Mixtec, Toledano wants to hire barbers who also speak these indigenous languages.
“I’m proud to be able to speak Mixtec with some of my clients,” Toledan said.
He hopes to one day build a large enough clientele to support a full-time career, but for now he works 30 hours a week in the field.
The store is open from 1pm to 6.30pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays and from 10am to 6.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 6.30pm. On Sundays the store is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
David Rodriguez is the education reporter and staff photographer for The Salinas Californian. For any advice or history ideas you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to support local journalism.
First indigenous-owned barbershop opens in Salinas Source link First indigenous-owned barbershop opens in Salinas