George Pincham III came to Seaside from Ohio. He was 3 years old on a trip with his mom to visit her brother, who was stationed at Fort Ord, and both of them have lived here ever since. He graduated from Seaside High, and then went to Monterey Bay Beauty School, which was also in Seaside.
“I’m Seaside all the way around,” he says. “I love the diversity, the melting pot part of it.” Pincham III, whose barbershop nickname is Geo, started cutting hair when he was 19 – he’s now 38 – and in February 2019, he and two business partners opened Side Affects, a sleek new barbershop on lower Broadway with several big-screen TVs, and even a screen for kids to play video games while they’re waiting for their dad to get his haircut. He says he does a minimum of about 50 haircuts a week, and his clients include Seaside Mayor Ian Oglesby, his stepdad Alvin Edwards – a former Seaside council member and current Water Management District board member – and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, a Seaside native who is now coaching at Arizona State. “Before he took that job for ASU, I cut his hair for the interview,” Pincham III says.
The vision for Side Affects, he adds, is to make it a fixture in the community that gives back. There’s a donation box in the shop for clients to help fund haircuts for Seaside youth who might not able to afford a $40 cut, and his shop – which has seven barbers – also offers free cuts to people before they have a job interview.
The Weekly caught up with him on a recent afternoon to talk about his journey, and what it is about barbershop culture that he finds so special.
Weekly: How did barber shop culture become such a thing, especially in the Black community?
Pincham III: Speaking as an African American and going to the shop with my brother and my dad, it was an area where we felt, once you enter those walls, you can relax and be yourself. It’s not as much about the cut. The older I’m getting, I’m noticing some people don’t even come in for the cut. They just come for the experience and kind of relax and get away from whatever’s going on in their world. It’s an opportunity to ear-hustle about what’s going on, the latest current events and really just enjoy each other’s company. It’s a camaraderie, a brotherhood, a fellowship. I’ve had clients that recently lost someone tragically, and they’ll come in and share the story and shed some tears. That haircut is therapeutic. We can’t undo what’s been done, but to look in the mirror and feel better. One of my uncles told me that sometimes you do your therapy from the outside in, and if you like what you’re seeing maybe that helps trigger some part of that healing.
How did you get started in the field?
After I graduated high school I grabbed my clippers, but I didn’t know I wanted to do it seriously. I felt like I overlooked being a barber as a profession. I had aspirations to be in the communications field, something related to sports. As I started cutting hair to get myself ready for college, I realized I was really passionate about it, and getting that after-haircut reaction was priceless. I didn’t take it seriously until that second year, when I started building clientele. I started at $12 a haircut [in 2004]; now I’m getting $40-$45 a haircut.
Where did you used to cut before opening Side Affects?
I went to my childhood barber shop [the now-defunct Hair Company] and started working there right away.
What’s the youngest person you’ve ever cut?
I got somebody around 10 months. I’ve given a lot of 1-year-olds haircuts. You never know what you’re going to get with the 1-year-olds. Sometimes they sit chill, sometimes they’re squirming. It can go from what could be a 30-minute experience to an hour. The kids get restless, the parents get restless. You never know what you’re going to get.
Covid hit right around the one-year anniversary of Side Affects’ opening. How did you weather the pandemic?
We started working in the back, wheeling our chairs to the carport area. When we had fires going on, we were outside and there was ash falling. We had to adjust our schedule because we could only do daylight [hours]. And we didn’t want to work solo, because it was a lot of labor wheeling chairs outside. It had to be close to a month. It was hard to accommodate guys in such a tight window, but they started to understand.