Ivan Contreras has liked to cut hair almost as far back as he can remember.
He would snip friends' and relatives' hair in the garage of his family's home in Concord. It continued when he attended Concord High School and would earn a few bucks here and there cutting hair.
After graduation in 2009, Contreras went to San Francisco Barber College, where he received his license to cut hair professionally.
He worked for three years at Urban Cutz in Pleasant Hill before deciding he wanted to own his own business.
A couple months ago at the age of 22, Contreras used the money he had saved up over the past four years to open up The Parlor Barbershop in Todos Santos Plaza.
The business has an old-fashioned red and white barber pole out front of the shop at 2230 Salvio St., just around the corner from the Hot Dog Palace.
It's a mix of retro and hip. There are five old-style barber chairs around the place along with the pole.
However, the chairs are fashionable black and the barber shop has cutting edge art by one of Contreras' friends hanging on the walls.
"It's a hybrid," said Contreras. "We wanted to bring back a little of the traditional barber shop."
Contreras said he has always enjoyed cutting hair. He views it as design, a work of art, if you will.
He also enjoys meeting people. In addition, Contreras is a religious young man who believes everyone has a purpose on Earth.
"We're here to serve others and this is pretty much how I serve," he said.
Contreras also gets satisfaction from knowing a good haircut can change a person's attitude.
"It boosts self-confidence. It gives them a new attitude," he said.
One person who is sold is Leondre Washington, a Missouri native who is attending Diablo Valley College.
Washington, a wide receiver on the college's football team, got his hair cut by Contreras at Urban Cutz and then followed his barber when he opened his own shop.
"He cuts it the exact way I tell him to do it," said Washington.
He also likes the $20 price.
"I'd pay more," he commented.
Contreras admits he was a bit scared launching his own business at such a young age. However, he had taken a few business courses and learned a thing or two from his girlfriend, who he's been with since they attended El Dorado Intermediate School together.
You see, Jennifer Valdez, also 22, opened her own place, Vanity Salon on Colfax Street, about six months ago.
"That gave me some confidence," said Contreras. "I figured if she could do it, then so could I."