Charlay Robinson excitedly greets seven players of the Savannah State football team as they enter his barbershop.
Deandre Vickers sits in his usual chair and Robinson starts to cut. Vickers doesn’t need to say what he wants. Robinson already knows, as he cuts the team’s hair before every game. Vickers has been going to Robinson for about a year.
During home games, he works out of one of the football player’s room, located in the University Commons on campus.
“I always wanted to cut hair. I want to teach people how to cut hair one day,” said the 39-year-old barber Robinson.
Robinson is a popular barber for students at Savannah State University. Robinson started cutting hair when he was in the military at the age of 20 and has been cutting hair for 12 years.
After his military service, he met Ray Mcllellan, who owned his own barbershop and needed an apprentice. “He just took me under his wing and just taught me how to really cut hair and service customers in the chair and I just stuck with it since said Robinson.
Mcllellan taught Robinson the ins and outs of cutting hair. “I saw the potential in Charlay and that made me make him my apprentice. Being a barber is an art that a lot of people just can’t do and I knew he could,” said Mcllellan.
Robinson is a business management student at Savannah State University who cuts hair full-time, and knows his future will involve clippers. With his business management degree, Robinson wants to open his own barbershop.
At Savannah State Robinson has a big client base of students. He cuts more than half of the football team’s hair before games and during the off-season. On average, he cuts about 15 players per week. Haircuts are $10 for college students and $15 for everybody else.
Robinson is treated as one of the football teammates nowadays. He has an orange Savannah State football helmet displayed in his unnamed shop on Mall Boulevard. He gets a team schedule poster each year for his shop, as well.
Jason Jean-Louis, Jr., a wide receiver at Savannah State, has been getting his hair cut from Robinson since January. He trusts Robinson with his hair. “He knows what I like, he’s my only barber in Savannah and when people need haircuts I refer them to Charlay,” said Jean-Louis.
Deandre Vickers, a senior wide receiver at Savannah State, and he has been getting his haircut from Robinson for about a year. “He’s nice with the clippers and he cuts my hair just how I want it. He’s the only barber I recommend in Savannah and his prices are fair.”
Annually Robinson averages $42,000 per year as a barber with a clientele of more than 150 regulars.
“The majority of college students don’t work or make a lot of money so I don’t want the price of a haircut to be difficult for them,” said Robinson. On average in Savannah, barbers charge $15 for regular cuts and $20 for style cuts.
Robinson is the modern-day Calvin from “Barbershop.” In the 2002 movie, Calvin helps the community with cheap haircut prices while trying to keep the black community up on their feet. Robinson wants to open a chain of barbershops and also a “sandwich spot” for the community.
“Me and my clients talk about any and everything, that’s the biggest thing to me, being able to hold conversation with my clients and being able to talk about anything with them,” said Robinson.
The hardest part of being a barber for Robinson is standing up and being on his feet for the majority of the day. Some days, he spends 13 to 14 hours cutting hair.
"At the end of the day, I just want to provide college students at Savannah State with a reasonable price for a haircut," he said.