‘Chase’ing his dream of being a cut above

There is so much more to a barbershop than haircuts, hot towels and razor shaves.

Sure, customers want a good head of hair as the end result, but it’s the underlying social and therapeutic aspects that Chase Austin hopes to bring to his Cut to the Chase shop in Port Orchard.

“Barbering was always a dream of mine,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do it, and I never knew how incredible it would be for me to really pursue that dream.”

Austin is originally from Jacksonville, Fla., making the move to Port Orchard with his parents three years ago. His intention was to return to the East Coast, but, as he put it, life intervened for the best. The infamous words of many a man came out. “I met a woman,” he said, “and we just clicked instantly.”

The inspiration of his now-fiancé Stephanie Gay, owner of Port Orchard’s Salon Virtue, helped him to decide to create a shop of his own. Austin summed up his love for the craft as part of being a people person, knowing that the right haircut can make anybody’s day.

You might say his work is a cut above.

“I love making people happy, especially when they come in and then leave with a smile,” he said. “If you ever look at my Instagram, I always have the last photo on everybody’s post of them smiling when they leave the chair. I love to make people feel different than when they first came in.”

He’s worked hard to get to this point, burning through a six-month course at Pristine Parlor Barber College in Kent in just four months and continuing to practice his craft while setting up shop at the 800 block of Bay Street and waiting for the final permits from the city. An opening date is dependent on the permits being finalized.

When the doors open, customers can expect a mix of the classic and modern feels of barbering, both in the sense of haircuts and community gatherings. “I wanted to bring that old-school gentlemen’s hangout feel to Bay Street,” Austin said. “They come in, watch the games, listen to the music, shoot the s***, say what they need to say.”

It’s a much better gathering place than a bar, where those around Austin unfortunately saw his worse side come out. “I had come to a breaking point where I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was literally throwing everything that I loved or had value for away, and alcohol was just my only love at that point.”

Now sober for nine months, he hopes the shop can offer a safe environment for others struggling with alcoholism. The signs will be there to remind you that what happens in a barbershop stays in the barbershop.

“I’m truly excited to get started,” he said. “The wait is hard, but I’m ready to go.”