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Traverse City Barber Inspires New Legislation

Reid Jenson and Client
Bulldog's Barbershop

Jeff Jenson of Traverse City, with Representative John Roth, proposed legislation to help trim the licensure process for barbers.

Jenson, now retired from his Bulldog’s Barbershop, got into the field after retiring from an office job.

He and his son, Reid, moved to Traverse City six years ago, looking for a way to get to know the community.

“I’ve met so many great people here and got to know them,” says Jenson. “It’s fun to watch people’s lives progress, little kids that come in and now they’re driving here.”

They opened the barbershop and didn’t realize that there was a shortage of barbers in the area.

“It’s very popular and there are lots of barbers in other parts of the country,” says Jenson. “With a little investigation I found all the barber schools are downstate and there just aren’t many people up here pursuing that career.  Then as we cut peoples hair there are a lot of people getting out of school that just don’t know what they want to do. College may not be for them. In talking with them I tried to encourage them that this was a great way to go.

“But it’s tough for a lot of young people to pick up and go and move for a year to another part of the state. Some people have young children and things like that, so it becomes tough. That’s why we decided to pursue the apprenticeship program.”

The apprenticeship program is an added option for those who do not want to complete 1,800 hours of course study.

The program wasn’t an option before was signed into law in November.

Before then, the Michigan Occupational Code did not allow for applicants for a barber’s license to substitute any hours with an apprenticeship.

The change works similarly to cosmetology licenses.

Apprenticeships won’t be available quit yet. Currently, all barber licensing in Michigan falls under the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs – Barber Examiners.

Jenson guesses it will be early 2023 when he can bring on an apprentice to fill one of his two empty chairs.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” says Jenson, “There are lots of young people that just don’t know where to go or what to do. It’s an industry that can use some help like so many others here in the area.”

Roger Argue, owner of Robertson’s Hair Center, down the street in Traverse City could also use some help.

“[We] probably could yes part of the time anyways,” Argue says. “We have another shop upstairs and we’re short one person up there.”

Argue says he’s been cutting hair for 53 years. He went through training in 1966.

“I think it’s a worthwhile thing to get into if you want to work hard,” he says. “That’s not a lot of lot of advice, but it requires a lot of work. You’ve got to take it pretty serious, sometimes more than 40 hours a week.”

An apprentice would not be able to work over 40 hours a week, their attendance would be documented, and grading system would be provided.

They would have to also take a barber exam and pass. Those interested must be a high school graduate or have an equivalent education.

“We’ve already had a couple of people interested,” says Jenson. “We’re really excited. We want to get it going. We’ve got it set up so we can start as soon as we get the green light.”

Jeff Jenson can be reached with questions about the apprenticeship program at or 231-642-5544.