Kyle Parker: Finding comfort in being uncomfortable

by Contributing Writer, Kelby McIntosh

As Black people, we understand the power of appearance. Throughout our time walking this earth, our cultural influences have generated ripples within fashion, media, and more. While you could probably pinpoint our sense of creativity for ourselves to so many things–one of those will always be our hair.

Whether every week, every two weeks, or whenever you can, the barber shop is a staple institution in a Black man’s life. As a man, a barber shop is a place not only to get a fresh high fade, but it’s home to see the social dynamics of Black men in a healthy light. That’s how Kyle Parker, CEO, and Founder of mobile barber shop service ClipDart–knows the power of a good haircut.    

“I lost complete access to a good haircare out there for three years,” Kyle said as he recalls leaving Chicago to attend Grinnell College in Iowa. “The nearest barber was three hours away, which affected my mental health. I didn’t feel I was putting my best foot forward, so I took the steps forward to make sure people would never feel like me,” he further stated.

THE HUB: So, how did ClipDart start?

Parker: We first created an on-demand barber app, like Uber or DoorDash, but for haircuts. We worked on this app for about six years and had an official launch date of  March 15, 2020–three to four days before the pandemic. It was devastating to do all that hard work and be unable to release due to that unforeseen occurrence. But it was a blessing in disguise because it gave us the time to rethink our direction, like “do we really just want to create this cool app” or want to do something more?   

Kyle raised good points about doing more. Since launching in 2022, ClipDart has expanded into 27 states and given over 150 haircuts through their nonprofit, The ClipDart Giveback–with the central pillar of ClipDart’s appeal being mental health. “When you give someone a haircut, and they can look in the mirror and feel like someone–they feel recognized,” Kyle stated. “That’s why we focus on mental health and continuing that is the most important thing.”  

THE HUB: Is it a challenging selection process when figuring out where to go?

Parker: I think the sad part is it isn’t. I believe that some colleges are realizing the differences between availability and accessibility. It took me being in the middle of Iowa to understand the importance of having access to good hair care.  Explaining these things to colleges is easy; I think the challenge lies in finding good barbers who want to focus on putting mental health first.  

THE HUB:  What’s the process for those who want to use ClipDart?

Parker:  We have three different ways we offer hair care. One way is through our app that launched earlier this year. Our headquarters is in Pheonix, AZ and most of our barbers are in that area. The second is we do business-to-business partnerships (colleges, offices, etc.). You can sign up on our website to list your business or education institution on our list. Finally, the third way is through The ClipDart Giveback, where we partner with non-profits to supply haircuts to diverse communities. We have acquired 20 different partners since 2022. We’re in 15 states and have provided over 3000 haircuts-our non-profit is the fastest growing part.  

THE HUB: As a Black business owner, do you have any words for up and coming black entrepreneurs?

Parker: Don’t take criticism from people you wouldn’t take advice from, and don’t take advice from people you wouldn’t take criticism from. I believe that if you have a vision in your heart, then that’s what you should follow. You should believe in yourself and not be afraid of failure, but always have a plan b–never limit yourself on what you can do or accomplish.  You should constantly be pushing yourself as I find comfort in being uncomfortable.

Kyle and the ClipsDart team are doing fantastic community work through a lane that I didn’t even come to mind. ClipDart has shown me how you can ease the woes of finding a good hair care experience–no matter where you are. Honestly, it makes me rethink what the power of a haircut represents for us as Black people, specifically us as Black men.   

Visit HUB Magazine coverage of local news in Sacramento county  is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.


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