“When you look good, you feel good and it helps you do well in school,” says Jeff “JP” Patterson, owner of JP Hair Design on Madison’s west side. “That’s our goal:  to have kids feeling good about themselves and looking good.”

With that in mind, the 13th Annual 2019 Back to School Haircutz will be held Sunday, Aug. 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center. This gigantic “Pop-Up” Barber Shop, organized by Patterson, plans on serving more than 600 Madison-area students.

“I have 35 barbers that have committed to the event this year,” Patterson tells Madison365. “We’re starting at 10 a.m. and our last appointment is at 4 p.m. It should be a very busy day.”

The 2019 Back to School Haircutz event will be structured so groups of young people will come in at a specific time so that there generally will be no log jam.

“It’s been working pretty well since we’ve been doing this,” Patterson says. “Last year, we cut hair for a little over 500 kids. The year before we were at 430. Our goal, someday, is 1,000. I’m not sure if we can get there, but that’s our goal. This year we expect to get to 600.”

The vibe at the event – despite the chaos of having hundreds of young people come in and out throughout the day – is fun and relaxed. 

“We have great help and great volunteers to keep things running smoothly,” Patterson says. “The wait hasn’t been long and the barbers haven’t been overworked. We really want to turn it up a notch this year and get more kids in.”

This year the participating shops include JP Hair Design, Resilient Hair Design, Regent Cuts, The Edge of Freshness Barber Shop, Atwood Barbers, Crowns of Glory Hair Salon, Inspire Barber and Beauty Salon, Vernee Nycole Barbers and other local barbers and students.


Barbers from the community pose for a picture at a previous Annual Back to School Haircutz event.
(Photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography)

“When you look at other cities, they don’t have barbershops and barbers that work together like this. They are more about competing with each other,” Patterson says. “Madison is unique in that we work together. I can go into any shop and they welcome me there.  That’s why it’s so cool to see all of these different shops come together for this event.”

Madison365 is a media sponsor for the 13th Annual Back to School Haircutz event that will also a chance to present the Taylor “Smitty” Smith Scholarship. Madison’s first black barber Taylor “Smitty” Smith was a legendary and inspirational pioneer in his trade and a mentor to Patterson.

“I’m thinking we might be giving away two scholarships at the back-to-school event,” Patterson says. “We are asking people to apply for the apprenticeship. We have some people who have applied already and we’d love to have some more.”

(Photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography)

Patterson says that at 3 p.m. they plan on stopping the event and presenting the apprentice scholarships to the recipients. You can apply here.

Smith passed away in 2016 at the age of 92 after more than six decades in the barbering business.  

“Smitty was a quiet leader. He was somebody that did things in a way where he didn’t have to pull you to the side to lead you,” Patterson remembers. “By his actions, I learned so much from him about the business and about the community.”

Taylor “Smitty” Smith

You can get tickets for a free haircut at numerous places around town. Tickets will have appointment time on them and no youths will be turned away if they have a ticket or not. 

“A lot of times we let our clients know that we have a free haircut for the kids and some of the parents are like ‘We don’t need the free haircuts’ or ‘Let someone else get it.’ But that’s not what this day is about – giving to less-fortunate people,” Patterson says. “It’s about all of the barbershops giving back to the community.

“So, we want kids to come regardless of whether they can pay for it 20 times or can’t pay for a single cut,” he adds. “This is a community thing. We always want parents to know that this is about all of us coming together to give back to the community and letting them know that we are there for them.”


Do you know a kid who could use a free hair cut at the 13th Annual Back to School Haircutz? Call Dianna Shinall at (608)446-8022 to schedule a time to come in.