For most ORU students, living on campus means you can walk across the hall to visit with your best friends (although COVID-19 circumstances currently prevent this). This is true for Danny Najera — he just so happens to also live across the hall from his clientele. Danny, a senior business and management major, is branded as “Oral’s Finest” when it comes to cutting men’s hair.
From a young age, Danny visited barbershops for haircuts, growing admiration for the art of cutting hair and the atmosphere of shops. He loved the process of a good haircut and desired to learn it for himself. In high school, Danny decided to take up the craft and cut hair for his soccer teammates, who became his first batch of clients. It felt like a side hustle, a fun way to make money.
“A lot of people think they have a good haircut, but they really don’t,” Danny joked. “There was a need for a barber on campus, seriously. I feel like it’s become a part of my life now.”
During the COVID-19 outbreak, barbers and hairstylists are among those whose jobs are majorly impacted. This pandemic not only cut Danny’s senior year short but also cut his final weeks to save up money and solidify more clients.
“Personally, I was hit hard as school came to a close sending all of us home,” said Danny. “I believe better days are ahead and things will go back to being normal, and everyone will be able to cut hair again. I just pray that we all stay healthy as we beat this virus together.”
Besides his haircutting skills, Danny excelled in soccer throughout his high school career and expected to receive offers from universities to play. Of course, this was before he tore his ACL and MCL during his senior year. After his injury, Danny decided to only apply to ORU, knowing it would be a good place for him.
As an incoming freshman, Danny hoped to leave his haircutting days behind him, but his older brother, who graduated from ORU in 2018, convinced him to bring his clippers and cape — his brother just wanted a good haircut. Shortly after moving into EMR, the basketball team lost their designated barber, which led Danny’s brother to point them his way.
“I cut my brother’s hair and some of the guys started asking for haircuts. That’s really where it started — One guy would get a haircut, then someone would ask where he got his hair cut and they’d say, ‘Danny,’” Danny recalled. “I probably have the easiest number to find on campus.”
In the beginning, Danny scheduled haircuts via texts and direct messages, but this eventually became problematic for his time management and peace of mind. He kept all of his appointment times, among all else, in his head. Under the pressure of assignments, tests and commitments, he would juggle dozens of haircuts a week, causing him to reevaluate how he managed appointments.
“There was a point where my parents were worried about me because I would be stressed about homework but have 10 people hitting me up for haircuts that day,” Danny said. “I started using Instagram for booking, and stuff became so much easier.”
By clicking the link in Danny’s Instagram bio, individuals can book an appointment with Danny for a $20 50-minute haircut. This booking method helped the up-and-coming barber solidify his business and professionalism. Danny sets up a chair in the Niko fourth-floor bathroom, buttons a cape around his clients’ necks, uses quality products and adds just the right “edges” that keep clients coming back.
Danny’s clients stay loyal to their favorite barber. His high school friends in Oklahoma City still ask when he will be in town, hoping to catch up and catch a fresh cut. ORU alumni still keep Danny as their barber and refer him to their non-ORU friends. He recently woke up to a text from a friend living in Florida who requested his service for him and his 20 groomsmen in his wedding.
“They’re all excited to get their haircuts, and I don’t wanna be that dude who doesn’t have time to cut them anymore,” said Danny. “Whenever I’m overbooked, some will pay double the price to get me to cut, just because they don’t trust anyone else.”
Being a professional barber is now Danny’s future business. He wants to level up the game for barbershops and create a fresh, respectable atmosphere that still feels like a timeless barbershop. For a few years, he’s kept an eye on barbers who he considers as ones to look up to in the barber game. He learns from them and hopes to raise the bar even higher.
“I get a lot of barber love from outside professional barbers, and that’s been cool,” said Danny. “Being around a barbershop vibe, you’re able to connect with people . . . but I want it to be a lot better than it is now.”
Danny’s drastic life change from soccer to business led him to find his passion and calling with a pair of clippers. From side hustle to “something he couldn’t get away from” to a future business, he owes his success to his dedicated clients.
And, sorry ladies, he tried cutting a girl’s hair once (after weeks of her begging), and he vowed to never use his clippers on a woman’s hair again.