Thirty-year-old Joe Guerra was grateful to be back cutting hair at The Mission’s Barbershop on 25th Street near Mission Street. Born and raised in the neighborhood, Guerra has been a barber for 13 years and has had his own shop for two years.
Guerra began cutting hair when his uncle came home from prison. He wanted a haircut, and Guerra tried but failed. “Ever since that day, I told myself I was going to learn how to cut hair, you know, to cut his hair again,” said Guerra. But he never got the opportunity, as his uncle soon passed away. “But I used that as fuel and ran with it, and it got me here.”
Guerra still lives in the Mission, where he is raising his 13-year-old son and his 6-year-old daughter. The pandemic forced Guerra to shut down his shop, and life became “a whole lot more stressful.” In April, Guerra resorted to creating The Mission’s Barbershop Relief Fund and raised $1,300 to help pay his bills. “Thankfully, we’re surviving,” says Guerra, who reopened in September. “It definitely feels good to be doing something again instead of being home.”
Guerra sees cutting hair both as a job and a way of contributing to his community. To that end, he keeps the barbershop old-school ‘Frisco style to reinforce his loyalty to the neighborhood. “The fact that I could be here in my neighborhood and do what I’m doing and give back, you know, even if it’s just one haircut at a time … there is a value to me, you know, just the fact that you can cater to the same neighborhood that I have embraced the whole life.”
As Mission Local concluded the interview, a mom and her son arrived. “Only one of you can come in,’ Guerrero said. That is life in a pandemic.
“It’s been struggle,” Guerra said, before starting the cut. “but I am trying to keep the doors open, one way or another. I plan to cut hair up until I can’t cut hair no more.”