Don’s Barbershop impacts North Omaha

Tyvon Smith, In-Depth Editor

In 2009, Donald “Don” Fantory opened Don’s Barbershop located in the heart of North Omaha, on the corner of 40th and Ames. Here their objective is to provide a sense of family and assurance in guidance to young men in the community.

Throughout the upcoming of Fantory’s life into his adulthood, he did not expect to realistically fulfill his dream of being successful by any means necessary.

“Black businesses like mine usually starts from a life of crime, poverty, and wanting to be successful,” Fantory said.

Fantory knew he wanted to be a barber in the 7th grade, when he stole his first pair of clippers to line his own hair up when his mother could not afford to send him to the barbershop.

Before becoming a business man in 2004, Fantory reached the point in his life where he wanted to modify his life from the way he had only ever lived through struggle.

“When I turned from the streets and was working on my book, my family thought something was wrong with me,” Fantory said. After his family heard his thoughts, they admitted him into a mental hospital.

Fantory had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder with grandiose thinking. Meaning a person is excessively grand or ambitious when visualizing something they would like to see.

“Why when a Black man says he want to be successful, in society’s eyes it means we’re suffering from grandiose thinking?”Fantory said, “but when a White man says it, it means its achievable and acceptable in society.”

Fantory dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, purchasing and becoming the owner of his desired home, having luxurious cars, and a reliant bank account. People did not believe him doing so was possible due to his past.

“While in the mental hospital, I began to write my book and continued to focus on what was needed to stay on a righteous path of life,” Fantory said.

Instantly, Fantory did not know he wanted to become a barber. Working a job made him feel as if he were a slave, or in jail.

“The same feelings I had in jail were the same feelings I had at work, which were the feelings I had in jail,” Fantory continued, “which I’m sure are the same feelings slaves had.”

Client of Don’s Barbershop, Omaha North student C’Jai Payne and his older brother have been going there about every week.

Payne started attending Don’s Barbershop about six years ago when he received a phone call from Fantory. Being his old neighbor, he thought it would be cool to support that he opened his own barbershop.

“You build a relationship with your barber outside of just getting a line up, like learning tips on how to save money,” Payne continued, “I look at Don more like an uncle since I’ve been little.”

In Don’s Barbershop, two other barbers have chairs in there as well. Dominique Smith have been working at Don’s Barbershop for five years.

“I’m a positive role model in my community, a lot of young males in North Omaha look up to me because I’m relatable and young,” Smith said.

Smith started the foundation of his barbering career when he went to Don’s Barbershop for a better experience than where he had previously cut hair at. When a friend told him about an opening at Don’s Barbershop, he acknowledged its opportunity.

“Bonds that I’ve created with some of my clients are getting to watch them grow up and teaching them to be better,” Smith said.

To grow in his barbering career, Smith plans to his own a barbershop in Las Vegas to better the communities in both Las Vegas and Omaha.

Gregory Loyd and Fantory have been barber colleagues since the early 1990’s.

“When I heard Don opened up his own shop, I knew he was excelling well and making money so I wanted to be a part of it,” Loyd said.

Loyd started cutting hair out of the blue when someone else had sureness in him. “When I was fourteen, my neighbor came to me and asked me to do him a fade,” Loyd continued, “after I did it I was a perfectionist since he had faith in me.”

That encouraged Loyd to believe in passing his faith on to generations behind him. “A big influence to anybody in my chair, I tell them positive things especially if they are in school,” Loyd said.

Another Omaha North student, Caleb Dean, has been attending Don’s Barbershop since he was eight-years-old, and now he goes with his one-year-old nephew.

“I call Don my uncle because he’s been around my family for a while,” Dean said.

Dean along with other young men, tell Don or their other barbers first when they are in situations that may be tough.

“If I did something I didn’t want my mom to know, I’ll tell Don first and he’ll tell me what’s best most of the time he’ll tell me I need to tell my mom though,” Dean said.

During the week a lot of students from Omaha North walk to Don’s Barbershop after school because of the close distance.

“Sometimes he buys me food if I didn’t have anything to eat, since Big Jim’s is close he’ll buy us ribs and stuff,” Dean said.

“We will help and encourage with relaying knowledge to assist you on your path,” Fantory said.

The goal for the barbers at Don’s Barbershop is to do the best they can, which is to assure that they are a support group for young men, being stronger than what they had for them.

Supporting and educating ways of life on any customer that walks through the door is a must.

“Don’s Barbershop is a place of understanding, compassion, and loving,” Fantory continued, “never hating… never hating.”