For barber Stefon Alston, who manages North End Barbershop in Norlina, building a strong rapport with clients is essential to a thriving business. With a clientele base from Warren and surrounding counties — and as far away as Raleigh — Alston has more than met his definition of success.
A Warren County native and graduate of Warren County High School, Alston has managed the barbershop since it reopened in 2015.
The Rev. Francis Alston opened the barbershop in 1967 and continued its operation until 2009. After his death in 2012, the building became a clothing shop.
By August 2014, Alston’s son and daughter, Al Alston and Mary Porter, and his nephew, the Rev. John Earl Alston, were making plans to return the building to its roots as a barbershop. In determining who would manage the reopened barbershop, the family turned to Stefon Alston, a member of John Earl Alston’s church.
Besides the church connection and having the same last name as the longtime barbershop operator, Stefon seemed to be the perfect choice for manager in other ways. Growing up, he met Francis Alston and learning that he was a barber. Stefon grew up watching his grandfather and father cut the hair of family members and friends.
When Stefon was 19, he found an opportunity to try his hands with the clippers. A friend needed a cut, and Stefon offered to do it. Recalling the days of watching his grandfather and father at work, he delivered what he described as a good-looking cut for a first effort. At that moment, he felt that he had found his calling in life.
More friends and family members turned to Stefon for haircuts, and his father encouraged him to attend barber school. Stefon acted on that advice, graduating from Park West Barber School. He began his career as a barber at K&K Barber Shop in Warrenton and remained there until North End Barbershop saw its first customers in February 2015.
Members of Francis Alston’s family attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and officially welcomed Stefon to the business. Today, a photograph of the barbershop’s founder is displayed in a prominent place to honor the man whose legacy Stefon continues.
He is grateful for the opportunity to carry on the business and for the client base he has developed.
“I am grateful for the people who trust in my services,” Stefon said last week.
North End Barbershop is located on the north side of Norlina on busy US 1, either heading into or out of town, depending on one’s direction of travel. The location is convenient for customers traveling from other areas of Warren County, from Vance, Granville and other surrounding counties and for people coming from Wake County. People who are natives of other countries have also found their way to the barbershop.
Stefon offers a range of services for people of all ages, from children to senior citizens: haircuts for men and women (short hair styles), hair dyes, eyebrow arches for women and facials, popular with both women and men.
“The heart of the business is having a good rapport with people,” he said. “To supply people with the services they need is the core part of it.”
Stefon has built a full clientele, but finds time to squeeze in new customers. When clients come in, he asks them what type of look they want, and goes from there. A favorite among all ages right now is the fade, but he can handle all types of men’s haircuts. Many customers are women who want to go to or maintain a short hairstyle. Eyebrow arching is also popular.
Stefon loves working in his home county.
“I already know a lot of people,” he said. “It is easier for people to warm up to me since I am from here.”
In a number of cases, several generations of the same family look to Stefon to keep them looking their best. He has watched plenty of children grow up since he has been a barber.
Other customers include friends he went to school with. Stefon considers all of his customers to be special, no matter how long they have been coming to North End Barbershop. They are the reason he is happy to be working in his home county.
“I want to give great appreciation to all of my customers,” he said. “I hope everyone has a great and happy New Year.”
Stefon is excited about the future of North End Barbershop as well. He still considers being a barber as his calling from God and is grateful to be able to fulfill that calling right where he is.
“I am looking forward to the future,” Stefon said. “I hope to stay consistent, to be around many more years, because I enjoy what I do.”
North End Barbershop is located at 915 US Hwy. 1 north, Norlina, and is open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 252-820-9886; or find him on Facebook (Stefon Alston) or Instagram/clipperman_stef.