Student Opinion: More Than Just a Shave and a Haircut

Photo by Akshaj Mehta

LOS ANGELES — Oakley’s Barber Shop became an integral part of the Westwood community in 1929, and has been serving UCLA students ever since. Clinton Schudy, the current owner of Oakley’s Barber Shop, started working there in 1990.

I started working at Oakley’s in 1990 when I moved out to (LA). I just finished my degrees in Arkansas and for a few months worked here part-time until I found my first job, and then continued to work for many years part-time for the clients that I had established… eventually transitioning back full-time,” 

Initially, Schudy wasn’t entirely sure which career path he wanted to pursue; design or being a barber.

“I had gone to college for one year and then laid out for three years trying to decide if college was for me…I decided to get my hair licensing first, then get a job in the industry and then re-enroll back into college, which is what I did,” said Schudy. 

Since 1990 when Schudy started, Oakley’s has gone through many changes;an important one being a massive increase in the use of technology over the past 30 years.

“It happened mid September 2022 when we went from a paper appointment book to an online booking system with two touchscreen monitors. It was a huge change. The transition for everybody to an electronic system from paper was very daunting, but we had a great trainer. I didn’t have to carry a flask the first month at the job, it was great,” said Schudy. 

Alongside this rapid adoption of technology, Schudy has noticed a  major change in the lives of many of his UCLA student clients.

“I think students are massively struggling with social interaction and other activities away from their phones or the computer screens,” said Schudy. From his conversations with students, he believes that this is a result of both the increasing use of technology and the long-standing social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schudy feels that more and more students are suffering from this isolation  and the negative effects associated with it. He feels as though events like UCLA’s First Thursdays may be a step in the right direction.

“First Thursdays allow students to feel more able to connect with others and meet people… which is a good thing. I think a lot of students suffer from depression, and feel isolated currently compared to students in the past,” said Schudy. 

However, in Schudy’s experience, many things have stayed the same.

“The core things are the same. Students, just like in the past, always have a lot of indecision and uncertainty in trying to decide their major and any other big decisions. As this time in their life is always a growing life lesson in trying to figure yourself out, just like students in the past,” said Schudy. 

The longevity of Oakleys and Schudy’s expertise has led to many UCLA clients returning with their own kids to have their hair cut.

“I have many clients that I am cutting their children’s hair… My best story would be of my client Derek, who first came to me when he was a sophomore at UCLA. This past year, I cut his oldest son’s hair for his graduation from college,” said Schudy. 

Schudy has also given haircuts that have had a life-long impact on clients, one being where a haircut had a part to play in a marriage.

The best example of this that Schudy can remember is a client who, after his second haircut, “had this lady come up to him and say that she really liked how his hair looked.” “He said ‘I think she’s the one.’ They now have been married for many many years and have a daughter about to start college,” said Schudy.

Schudy explained that the most rewarding aspect about being at Oakley’s is the relationships he fosters with his clients. “I think the most rewarding thing about being at Oakley’s is the established relationships I’ve had over all these years with my coworkers, and with all of my clients, as well as being able to continue a historic legacy business. Oakley’s is a very integral part of Westwood and the UCLA campus.”

About The Author

Akshaj Mehta is currently a first year at UCLA, as a political science major. He is a published author with 5 published books, the most recent titled The Butterfly Effect in collaboration with non-profit KidsFirst Roseville. He has written for the N Magazine of Natomas and Sacramento School Beat in the past. His passion for writing has been a central part of his life ever since he was young, and is excited to continue his writing journey.

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