WOLFVILLE, NS – Classic hairstyles with a sleek new finish while patrons hang out in comfort and style.
This is what Wolfville’s new barbershop business Ascension is offering up.
It’s a combination of cutting edge and tradition that’s set to appeal to Wolfville’s unique diversity of locals and students and their various tastes in hairstyles at its new location at 24 Harbourside Drive.
Shop owner and master barber Marvin Upshaw wants everyone – all community members of all backgrounds – to feel comfortable and at home in his barbershop.
“It’s all about that classic barbershop experience. This is a safe space for people of all ages, sexes and ethnicities where people can talk about whatever they want and leave with a sleek look,” said Upshaw.
Setting up shop in a traditional town
Upshaw has been a professional barber for 18 years, and has helped launch countless barbershops across the country.
He first opened several barbershop locations in Lower Sackville and in Halifax that also carried clothing. While the idea was a lucrative one, he could feel his vision slipping away.
“I knew we had to get that focus back, so I honed the business in on the one thing I do best: being a barber,” he said.
Ascension has two other locations in Lower Sackville and at Dalhousie University in Halifax, and after seeing how the shop worked within a student demographic, Upshaw looked into opening the newest Wolfville location.
But with a large student population and sizeable town population living side by side, he knew keeping things current yet classy would be essential.
The shop currently employs one head barber, Mike Meaney, one apprentice, Acadia student Sehkahnee Reynolds, and a hairstylist, Autumn Butler, all of whom come from different aesthetic influences and offer different styles.
“Our barbers all come with such unique styles that we’re able to adapt to our varied customer base. We can take someone’s look and perfect it, or we can give them something totally different,” said Upshaw.
It’s also how Upshaw says they separate themselves from other barbershops, including Kentville’s Sailor Bup’s.
“We’re a hybrid, and we’re the yin to their yang. Our shop stays classic as a fundamental, but in order to go to that new, modern twist, we can also expand that a little by incorporating any style,” he said.
Helping local barbers make the cut
Upshaw wants students and other locals to know if they’ve ever considered cutting hair, there could be a place for them at the shop, whether it be through its apprenticeship opportunities or soon to be offered workshops.
As a master barber, Upshaw is able and eager to work with apprentice barbers, like current apprentice Reynolds, to help them hone their craft.
Reynolds is currently in his third month as an apprentice, and balances his job with his studies at Acadia.
He pursued the trade after finding he and his friends wanted hairstyles that weren’t available in the area. After three years of barbering for fun, he took up the trade professionally.
“Having that barbershop in town means people get to have that vibe and say, ‘that’s where I go.’ It’s good conversation, and being in that chair is like a bonding experience. It’s different, and it’s what I’d been looking for myself,” he said.
Meaney has been a barber for five years, and likes seeing the reactions of first-time customers.
“I cut someone’s hair the other day who’d never had their hair cut professionally. Seeing the expression on his face when he looked in the mirror was amazing, he loved it,” he said.
Bringing back the barbershop culture for patrons and apprentices alike is a passion for Upshaw, who knows the trade can hold lots of potential.
“I want younger barbers to know you can make a lot of money in this industry, and that you can be yourself. You get to interact with your community and be there for people, and give them a fresh look. This is why barbershops are back,” he said.
Ascension hours of operation:
Tuesday – Friday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday: by appointment only, booked on the Reserva phone app.
To contact the shop: