May 29, 2020
Written By: Shiloh Francis
From humble beginnings in a garage to a dream location in Downtown Rapid City. That’s been the story for 25-year-old Dom Clucas.
Four or five years ago, Dom found a set of clippers at TJ Maxx. “It was $20 and was like I had to get this,” Clucas shared. “So I started cutting my little brother’s hair and it just progressed from there.” Clucas would ask his mom almost weekly to cut his hair. He realized there was no barbershop in Rapid City that could do the fades or designed he wanted as a teenager. Dom used those TJ Maxx clippers to begin practicing on his friends’ and brother’s hair at home until he was able to attend Barber School at the Emily Griffith Institute in Denver, Colorado.
His barber school classmates questioned his desire to come back to South Dakota. But Dom knew there was a need and he could fill it. He brought the skills and new styles he learned home to Rapid City. “I was a little nervous coming back here,” he says. “In Denver I got to experiment with a lot of different styles and hair types. Coming back, I was afraid it would just be same cut over and over again.”
Slowly, Dom earned the trust of his friends and clients to the point where he’s been able to do the styles he’s passionate about. “My close friends all probably got a 2 or 3’s on the side and now I’m giving them all skin fades. It’s cool.” Building trust and taking care of people is one of the biggest factors Dom credits for his success. He realized quickly that your clients are walking billboards and you want them to proudly say where they got their cut.
Dom’s mission: “I want this to be the barber shop of the Black Hills.” His dream has been to bring the old-school barber shop culture to Rapid City, while also doing fresh and modern cuts. “I want it to be the shop where you see the men reading newspapers and chatting the day away. Not people quickly coming in and out for a cut.”
Currently Dom is the only barber in his shop, it won’t be that way for long. He wants to hire other barbers and hopes to inspire the next generation. And why stop there? He would like to see Black Hills Barbershop expand to multiple locations and ultimately help his brother own his own location.
Being in downtown Rapid City is a dream location for Dom. Like many businesses in the area, the recent pandemic created a lot of uncertainty for this young business owner. Black Hills Barbershop has only been open for two years. While he was not forced to close his doors, Dom had made the choice to keep his customers safe by closing with the rest of the Rapid City business community.
While many businesses were able to keep cash flowing by offering services through curbside, to-go, or virtually, that wasn’t the case for this barber. When you aren’t cutting hair, you aren’t making money. “It’s not like I could do a haircut through Zoom or something,” he laughs. Fortunately, for Dom, Elevate Rapid City created the Bridge Loan program.
Dom was one of more than a dozen businesses that received a Bridge Loan to help cover expenses during a time when businesses were shutdown. “You couldn’t prepare for this, no matter how much money you have,” Dom states. “I’m really grateful for the Bridge Loan through Elevate Rapid City because it definitely helped me stay open.”
Entrepreneurship comes with risk and reward, and not without a lot of hard work and creativity. Dom is young and passionate about what he can offer the Rapid City and surrounding area. Dom shared that “there’s a lot of small things behind the scenes that people don’t see. They just see the clippers, but there’s a lot of other little things that add up.”
It’s safe to say that Clucas has far surpassed his days in the garage. His drive and passion for the Barbershop culture will ensure the people of Rapid City have the perfect place to go for a fresh fade, hot shave, or maybe just some banter.