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Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Hair Cutting Is Shear Fun For Dream Team Owners

By Nora Cardec

May 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company.. All rights reserved. 

FITCHBURG -- Tomas Costa, Richie Santana and Reynaldo Vasquez share a common link -- hair cutting -- and now they share a business and a dream.

After working for other barbershops, they decided to invest their savings and open their own shop.

Dream Team, at 310 Main St., opened two months ago.

"It wasn't easy to start out with our own money," said Mr. Costa. "We didn't take a loan. We just divided the cost of starting out among the three of us and did the construction of the cabinets and the renovation of the place."

The white walls are decorated with mirrors, posters of haircut styles, and pictures of Mr. Costa's children. Three flags, from the United States, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, complete the decorations. The flags also denote the background of the barbershop owners.

The location, approximately 1,300 square feet, accommodates three barber chairs and a row of seats along the opposite wall. A PlayStation system with its own chair is tucked in a corner for customers to use while waiting for their haircuts. Latin music fills the room.

"We do all types of haircuts, trim and shave beards, do highlights on men's hair and delineate eyebrows on men and women," Mr. Vasquez said.

The three men said they are happy with the response to their business.

Mr. Vasquez said they have a clientele of approximately 300, with the largest number of people coming in on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

"People know us and they like our work. We worked in two other places here in Fitchburg before opening our own and people followed us," Mr. Costa said.

Since the shop is open daily, the three owners take turns filling the 12-hour schedule. The business is entirely walk-ins. On busy days, Mr. Vasquez said, he and his partners average 30 haircuts a day.

The wait sometimes can be one to two hours but to clients such as Jose Nolasco, the wait is worth it.

"I've been cutting my hair with Richie for the past two years. When I come in, I don't even have to say anything to him because he knows already how to do my hair," said Mr. Nolasco. "I bring my son also and I applaud them for doing this (the business)."

The owners of Dream Team said they all liked doing hair and started with their family members and friends before going to barber school. They met in Puerto Rico.

Mr. Santana, the youngest, said he started cutting hair on the streets in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

"I used to carry all my hair-cutting supplies in a backpack. I worked for about two years on the street and became good at it," Mr. Santana said.

"Then I met Rey and went to work for him. When we saw there was a future in this business (hair cutting), we went to school."

Similarly, Mr. Costa said he learned cutting hair by practicing on his grandfather, his siblings and friends. When people started complimenting him on his hair-cutting skills, he decided to go for his formal education and his barber's license.

The three men said they hope to expand into other towns and cities and eventually hire people to work for them.

"The goal is to become the employer, but right now we just want to concentrate on doing what we do and do it the best we can," said Mr. Vasquez.

One immediate plan the Dream Team is working on is to go to nursing homes once a month and offer free haircuts to the men who live there.

Mr. Costa said this would be their way of giving back to the community.

Dream Team is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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