CARIBOU, Maine – Jamie Irving wants customers to feel at home when they step into Norseman Barbering Co., her new business in Caribou.
Irving opened Norseman Barbering Jan. 16 in the Bennett Drive shopping plaza. She has catered it toward a mostly male crowd, hoping to fill a void in the community.
Though many salons in Caribou take male clients, shops that tailor specifically to barbering are not as common. Before Norseman, Alphie’s Barbershop on High Street, where Irving most recently worked, was Caribou’s only barbershop.
“Shaving with a straight-edge razor is not a skill many people use anymore, but it’s coming back,” Irving said. “I want to bring back some of the nostalgia and old barbershop vibe.”
Originally from Washington State, Irving moved to Aroostook County at age 20 and earned her cosmetology license at the former Empire Beauty School in Caribou. She went on to study and teach barbering at the Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Irving later taught at Empire beauty school in Portland and worked as a barber at shops in Topsham and Freeport. She returned to Caribou in 2017 to care for a family member and began barbering at Alphie’s.
“I always knew I wanted to open my own shop,” Irving said.
Irving has decorated her shop as a tribute to veterans and a relaxing place for boys and men to enjoy themselves. A large painted American flag hangs above the waiting area, and Irving keeps snacks and drinks for children and adults in the mini refrigerator. She has also included a coffee bar for adults and massage chairs.
At Norseman, Irving also offers cosmetology services for women and men’s tanning and pedicures. Since her shop’s debut, Irving has been busy meeting new customers and chatting with old friends.
Early one Tuesday morning, 73-year-old Reggie Bouchard of Caribou stopped in for a haircut and beard shave. He has been one of Irving’s regular customers since her days at Alphie’s and enjoys her shop’s friendly atmosphere.
“I’ve had at least 15 barbers in my life but she’s the best,” Bouchard said. “She takes good care of you and knows everyone who comes in.”
Irving said she has gotten many similar reactions from the community. No matter their age, she wants men to have a unique barbershop experience.
“There are many places for women to get pampered, but not much for men,” Irving said. “No matter what type of day they’re having, I want them to relax and leave it all at the door.”