Twenty years ago, Matt Chiang cut hair in his Standford University dorm to earn extra cash. This past July, he graduated to owning a barbershop in Sharpsburg.
Death, Taxes & Frizz – named after the three certainties in life – is located at 912 Main Street.
Aside from the barber’s pole painted on the white wall, the storefront is unassuming. The interior, however, is full of whimsy and wonder, boasting retro stoves-turned-work stations, “Saved by the Bell”-style pops of color, plants and Chiang’s personal collection of tchotchkes.
You might even end up with an adorable dog named Mochi on your lap while you get your hair done.
The shop operates on a genderless pricing structure based on length of hair: $35 for a short ‘do, $45 for long locks. Due to COVID concerns, walk-ins aren’t accepted. You can make an appointment online.
Chiang’s precise styles are based on head shape, hair type, and geometry. He uses techniques he learned at the famed Sassoon Academy in his home state of California and through his own experimentation. Throughout his life, he’s sported all kinds of looks, from a shoulder-length mop to a pompadour that would make David Rose from “Schitt’s Creek” jealous.
Before becoming a licensed cosmetologist, he studied political science at Standford. Disillusioned by academia, he headed for the East Coast and spent 14 years perfecting his craft at Vidal Sassoon in Northern Virginia and at Grooming Lounge, a high-end barbershop in Washington, D.C. Some clients still make the drive from the nation’s capital to get a trim from Chiang.
His father, who ran a Los Angeles restaurant, instilled in him the importance of hospitality. Chiang wants men and women to feel comfortable in his chair, which is why he ditched the hyper-masculine décor typically found in barbershops for a fun and funky aesthetic.
Artist Greta Wilsterman livened up the seafoam green walls with colorful shapes and patterns. The shelves are lined with Chiang’s childhood trinkets, including vintage McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, a Pee-wee Herman doll and numerous odes to ALF, the furry alien life form who had his own sitcom in the ‘80s.
Chiang, 40, is the father of two girls. His salon and its resident pup seem to put squirming children at ease. Kids’ cuts, like the ones for adults, are length-based and cost $25 or $30.
Chiang wants all of his clients to leave looking and feeling better than they did when they arrived.
“You can give someone a great cut,” he says, “but, ultimately, it’s about the experience.”
Photos by BM Photography https://www.benmphotos.com/