Inches and looks, not inches and yards


Eagle alumnus offers cool cuts and slick s

Photo by Aaron Malmoe

Darius Washington is familiar with two different kinds of games: the nitty, gritty grind on the football field and the precision craft of cutting hair.

Washington is the owner and top barber at University Cutz in downtown Cheney.

Washington played for Eastern’s football team as a running back. He was an FCS All-American in 2004, with 1,127 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, according to the GoEags web archive.

Washington said he is proud of being part of the football team with Paul Wulf as head coach.

“We were in that era that was the huge push over the mountain to grow the school,” he said.

According to Washington, the football team helped the university get more attention.

Washington said he had been cutting hair since he was a kid.

“My mom used to cut our hair. She’d give us that bowl cut, the one where you’d get picked on at school for having. … But then she got too busy to do it and I just started cutting mine and my brother’s hair,” he said.

While attending Eastern on scholarship, Washington studied communications and broadcasting. “I wanted to be on TV,” he said.

Washington worked for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association calling games for local high schools.

“It was really fun. We had to do spots [commercials] and they would hand us a script. We got to have fun with it and it was really creative,” he said.

His broadcasting choice was influenced by modeling jobs he had while in high school, according to Washington.

“I’ve always been in front of the camera. You’d be there and they’re pointing cameras at you, and I always wanted to know what it’s like on the other side,” he said.

It was his girlfriend that was already in the business that pushed him into a modeling job for himself, said Washington. His first contract was free, and he has modeled for companies like Macy’s and appeared in soccer commercials in Seattle.

The multiple contracts he had to work out on his own allowed him to be more independent, according to Washington. Handling his own affairs forced him to grow up.

Modeling and communications helped Washington be more sociable, a much-needed skill for barbers, Washington said.

“Sometimes you do get people who don’t talk,” he said. “Some of them just want to sit in the chair. They like being pampered.”

University Cutz started, said Washington, because he wanted to work for himself and barbering was something he found that was relaxing. He spent eight months at beauty school learning how to cut, using shears and even a straight blade for facial shaves.

Jacob Sjolie, Washington’s co-worker at University Cutz, met Washington at cosmetology school.

“I think we were the only ones brave enough to touch them [razor blades],” he said.

The two are part of a growing professional culture, that involves a lot of competition and people who only let certain others touch their hair, according to Washington.

Barbers themselves are also tough on each other, stated Sjolie. The two have an agreement to not be harshly critical of one another which could result in a damaged reputation.

“It’s called the barber game,” Washington said. “One barber can say one thing about another barber and they can go out of business.”

Sjolie said that he and Washington are willing to sit down and bounce ideas off each other.

“What I tell him he might already know, but it’s a learning process,” he said.

When they are not cutting hair, Sjolie said they hang out at the shop and watch movies. He said he likes the fact that he can sleep in and come to the shop at 10 a.m. and be relaxed.

Washington stayed in Cheney, he said, because the town is a close-knit community.

“Everyone knows each other, you can walk everywhere. There’s just something about the town,” he said.

About the barber trend in the country, Washington said there are barbers who make thousands of dollars solely by cutting hair. The trend is slowly but surely coming this way out west.

“Someone is always going to need a haircut,” Sjolie said.