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The Dapper Devil barbershop fosters inclusive atmosphere

The Dapper Devil barbershop fosters inclusive atmosphere

The Dapper Devil barbershop fosters inclusive atmosphere
June 16
13:00 2022

Anthony Proa, The Dapper Devil owner and former marine, is an artist. The difference is rather than paintings and sculptures, the masterpieces that Proa creates are haircuts.

“This is art,” Proa said. “Me taking someone’s head as a canvas and my clippers and my scissors those are my tools to sculpt something or make something.”

Proa has been creating art in his own barbershop since The Dapper Devil opened in December. Owning a business has always been a dream of Proa’s and he says being the owner allows him to run the business in a way that sets them apart from other barbershops.

Anthony Proa cuts hair in his barbershop on June 9, 2022. John Anderson

“Customer service is what I like to really focus on,” Proa said. “My motto is quality over convenience, […] I would rather you be greeted and sit down and have a good conversation while you’re getting your hair cut.”

Getting to know clients as individuals and forming relationships is also one of the reasons that The Dapper Devil advertises as “experienced in working with special needs clients.” Proa has two sons and has been cutting their hair ever since they were young. His oldest is currently studying computer science at the university. Proa’s sons are both autistic and he says that raising them has taught him a lot about how to relate to people with autism.

Proa said that working with any individual is about getting to know them and when it comes to working with clients with autism, it is important to work around any triggers that may exist.

“I have so much more patience with people on the spectrum,” Proa said. “You have to be fluid with it, and hit those peaks and valleys.”

Sometimes clients are sensitive to loud noises from clippers, so instead, he will exclusively use scissors for the haircut. He said it is important for anyone that works with autistic individuals to remember to have patience and understanding and to not talk down to them.

“[You should] treat people the way you want to be treated,” Proa said. “Sometimes obviously you have to go the extra mile but there are things that everybody in their day-to-day lives can’t handle.”

Proa said that clients with autism make up roughly five percent of his business but he’s hopeful that with more exposure “It could get higher.”

Proa’s practice of forming relationships with clients keeps some coming back for a long time. Denton resident and self-proclaimed “old customer” Marcus Polk has been a client of his for over a year and has followed him from the barbershop he used to work at.

“I love coming here,” Polk said. “It’s a nice atmosphere and Anthony always does a great job.”

Proa and Polk talked throughout the appointment about topics ranging from skincare to weekend plans and thoughts about the new “Jurassic World” movie. Pop culture is alive and well at The Dapper Devil and the decorations serve as proof.

The devilish red walls of the barbershop don’t leave a space wasted and are lined with an assortment of memorabilia. Standouts from the collection include a patron saint poster of John Wick and a stormtrooper helmet.

Anthony Proa cuts hair in The Dapper Devil on June 9, 2022. John Anderson

The Dapper Devil employee and Lewisville native James Trice said he enjoys the friendly atmosphere of the barbershop.

“It’s really relaxed and easy-going,” Trice said. “It’s just definitely a place where people can come in and be themselves.”

The shop’s name was inspired by the term handsome devil, but as Proa was choosing the name he said he wanted something that would stand out a little more. Through the art of alliteration, The Dapper Devil was born. Proa said he wanted the shop to be edgy but still a fun place where families could come.

Proa was confident he could get away with the macabre moniker because of the openness of the Denton community, which allows him to try out new plans and ways to do things as he thinks of them.

“Denton is such a great place to experiment with those ideas,” Proa said. “[It is a] great place to own a business.”

Proa’s next idea is a beard and mustache competition that will also serve as a market to help promote businesses south of the Square.

“This side of town is the island of misfit toys,” Proa said. “There are some really great businesses over on this side of town.”

The event will take place on July 23 and will also feature a car show and live music, as well as a donation drive for the Denton Food Bank.

“I really do have a fondness and joy for what I do,” Proa said. “If you genuinely put yourself into your work then people will see it and appreciate it. “

Featured Image: Anthony Proa cuts the hair of longtime customer Marcus Polk on June 9, 2022. Photo by John Anderson

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John Anderson

John Anderson

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