Atascadero local Nate Abate has been in the barber business since 2013
ATASCADERO — Nate Abate didn’t always plan on becoming a Barber. In fact, he originally went to school for photography but quickly realized that turning it into a profession would ruin it as a hobby for him. That’s when his then Barber, Sammy from The Ritual in San Luis Obispo, stepped in.
“I guess Sammy must have gotten tired of hearing me complain about all my odd jobs and eventually was like, ‘why don’t you just go to Barber School?’ And I thought, ‘oh, I could do that.’ It just clicked. So I quit my job, took out a loan, and went to Barber school and never looked back,” Abate shared. “I was fortunate enough that the guy who convinced me to go to school hired me at his shop. I had a place to work when I got out.”
Abate, who grew up in Atascadero, attended SLO Barber College in 2013 before starting work at The Ritual and a few other Barbering gigs. He then opened Abate’s Barbershop three-and-a-half years ago, in May of 2018.
The Barbershop oozes retro vibes with its minimal, vintage decor and a large window, featuring the shop’s name in bold print. The shop is at home on 5920 Entrada Avenue in Atascadero.
“It’s one of the oldest professions in the world. You know, it’s been around forever,” Abate stated excitedly about Barbering. “The culture, the community aspect. You get so many different types of people in your chair. And so many different members of the community that you would normally not speak to. I did a little stint, like a day or two, in a shop in Orcutt. It’s been there since the 60s. And the guy made it a point, in the middle of the shop, when it was busy to ask, ‘what do you think that guy does? This guy’s a priest; this guy maybe isn’t in the most professional sorts of ways of making a living.’ All those different people can sit in the shop together and converse. And nobody thinks twice about it. And I thought that was pretty cool.”
On top of working at The Ritual and before returning to Atascadero to open up shop, Abate worked a short stint at Pistons and Pearls in Monterey, California. He also went out of the country to work at a Barbershop in Toronto, Canada.
“I went there twice,” Abate says of his Barbering days in Canada.
“When I was working at The Ritual in SLO, I got an offer from Brian Hurson, who owns The Night Owl Barbershop in Toronto. It’s a shop that’s been there since the 40s. And it’s pretty well known in the industry. He had reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to do a guest spot. And so I went up there for a month, and I did it. And then I was like, ‘wow, this is awesome,’ and he invited me to come back full-time. They were opening up another location. And so I went up there to be in that shop. I was able to learn a lot from him because he’s from Ireland, and he learned in a shop over there that’s a staple in Dublin. So it was a good experience, and I just wanted to bring all of that knowledge back to my hometown.”
Over the last two years, Abate has been looking to hire Barbers who share his passion for the trade, but he’s had no such luck.
“I can’t just put up a “help wanted” sign. I have to have someone who has their Barber’s license. So that’s a requirement, which is harder to fill than you think,” Abate said about finding fellow Barbers to work at Abate’s.
However, Abate has seen a growth in clientele over the last year, with people coming to the area from LA and San Francisco, but it’s his local, loyal customers who are his bread and butter.
“If you do 15 people in a day, in a city, you might see those people again. Whereas here, it’s the same group of guys month in month out. Those are the guys who pay the bills, Abate explained.
Abate’s love for Barbering is highly evident, and he’s excited about younger generations finding the profession in the future.
“Younger kids, you can do a trade. You can become a Barber. It’s a cool profession, and arguably, especially if you don’t know what you want to do, you get to meet so many different types of people.”
To make an appointment at Nate’s Barbershop, go to: natesbarbershop.resurva.com