Tarentum barber makes impact on customers, community | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Tarentum barber makes impact on customers, community

Madasyn Czebiniak
1307323_web1_vnd-tavarez1-062519
Madasyn Czebiniak | Tribune-Review
Tarentum barber William Tavarez works on client Luke Bondra in his shop, Willy T’s Cuts, on Friday, June 14, 2019.
1307323_web1_vnd-tavarez2-062519
Madasyn Czebiniak | Tribune-Review
Tarentum barber William Tavarez works on client Luke Bondra in his shop, Willy T’s Cuts, on Friday, June 14, 2019.

Editor’s note: Building the Valley tells stories of businesses big and small and the employees who make them special. If you know of any standout employees, bosses or companies with a great story to tell, contact reporter Madasyn Czebiniak at [email protected]

William Tavarez is more than just a neighborhood barber.

He’s someone a kid can look up to.

When youngsters go to Willy T’s Cuts in Tarentum, Tavarez doesn’t just cut their hair and send them on their way. He’ll talk with them about sports and grades and the importance of getting an education. He’s not afraid to give a little tough love when he hears someone has been getting in trouble.

“I think I have a pretty good relationship with most of the kids in the community,” said Tavarez, who turns 29 Saturday. “I try to steer them in the right way.”

Tavarez and his wife, Nicole Tavarez, had an atypical childhood.

She became pregnant with their first child, Jade, when they were both 15 and sophomores at Valley High School in New Kensington.

“We were just being kids, doing whatever, not thinking, and Jade came around,” Tavarez said.

Around that time, Tavarez was cutting hair as a hobby, not as a career. He and his friends would buzz each other’s hair short before they went out.

More than a decade later, he now is a successful barber with his own salon. His cuts are so in demand that reservations are often booked a week in advance.

Getting there wasn’t an easy road.

As a teenage parent, Tavarez was forced to grow up quickly.

While other kids his age were worried about things like going out and partying, Tavarez was focused on making money and taking care of his family. He even went to a job interview on his 16th birthday.

“He never faltered on anything,” Nicole Tavarez said. “He’s just always been the type of person to want to do better and to want to help people at the same time.”

Tavarez said Jade inspired him to be the man he is today.

He worked a series of jobs through high school to support his family.

“She’s motivated me a lot, my daughter, my oldest, to not be part of the statistic like everyone says,” he said.

After graduating from high school in 2008, Tavarez enrolled in Westmoreland County Community College. Within a month, he realized the academic route wasn’t for him and dropped out.

“I wasn’t too good in high school. I didn’t like sitting there and just learning. I wanted to be more hands-on,” he said.

Having trouble finding a steady job, salvation came in the form of a commercial for Empire Beauty School. The catchy jingle grabbed Tavarez’s ear and put him on the path to getting his cosmetology license.

Ever supportive, Tavarez’s wife and mother-in-law built Tavarez an in-house barber shop so he could cut hair in their New Kensington home while he was still in beauty school.

“That was big motivation for sure,” Tavarez said.

Tavarez graduated from Empire in 2010. He married his wife in 2011, opened Willy T’s Cuts in New Kensington in 2012, and relocated the salon to Tarentum in 2015.

He works six days a week, doing an average of 80 to 100 haircuts each week.

He loves it so much it doesn’t feel like work.

“I just like cutting hair. It makes people feel good,” he said. “That’s the best part, showing kids their cuts after and they’re all smiling in the mirror.”

Tavarez makes a point to give back to the community.

In conjunction with other salons, Willy T’s has provided free haircuts at the Allegheny Valley Worship & Service Center’s Back to School Bash for at least two years. Last summer, the salon raised more than $1,300 for the Brackenridge-based center on its own, donating all the proceeds from a Sunday of cuts at the shop.

“It doesn’t matter who you are,” Tavarez said of his salon. “Everyone comes here.”

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.