HASTINGS, Minn. — If you ask anyone from Corey Cook’s past, it wouldn’t be surprising to them that he would eventually become a full-time barber and open up his own shop.

Last week, Cook achieved just that — officially opening the doors of Rivertown Barbers on Friday, Jan. 3 in downtown Hastings.

Despite feeling the pull of the industry from a young age, it was three years ago that Cook decided to go all in on barbering. He sold his house and moved to Minneapolis to be close to the Morel Barber School that he would be attending. Once he finished and got his license, he worked as a barber in West St. Paul to start building on his experience.

“To me, a barber should be able to service everybody that comes to the barber. You shouldn’t be able to do just a certain kind of hair or a certain cut,” Cook said, adding that the diverse clientele in West St. Paul taught him to be the well-rounded barber he is today. Now he gets to enjoy his own business.

The cozy room in the back of the old Meyer building, which once had brighter white walls, is a warm mix of vintage and modern. Rich wood tones and a combination of black painted, stone and metal walls makes a welcoming space. One black wall acts as a large chalkboard for clients to sign their names after receiving a service from Cook.

The vintage meets modern vibe reflects Cook’s goal of being a traditional barber doing modern work.

“I think sometimes barbering has become too much of a revolving door atmosphere where people get in and get out. You aren’t going to come here and get a 15-minute hair cut. You’re going to come here and it’s going to be precise. It’s going to be detail oriented and it’s going to be done in a traditional style,” Cook said.

In making a hair cut or beard trim more of an experience for the customer, Cook is able to express his passion for the art and find joy in making an impact on others.

An example of the joy he finds in his work, Cook shared, was the story of a truck driver who came into the shop with a large beard and long hair.

“He didn’t know what to do so he came in and told me to do whatever I wanted. I went ahead and cut him up. Someone came in after and mentioned that he was doing selfies in the parking lot,” Cook said. “That’s why I do it.”

In opening Rivertown Barbers, part of Cook’s goal is to not only be a space where people can stop in for a haircut and a good conversation, but a place that gives confidence to men in how they look.

“I think a lot of times men want to look a certain way. And maybe the societal norm around them or where they’re from, whether it be the city, or their friends, they don’t necessarily feel comfortable in doing that,” Cook said. “It’s OK to do your hair. It’s OK to have a groomed beard. It’s OK to smell good. And that’s what I like most about what I do because I get to be a part of changing someone’s outlook.”

Rivertown Barbers is located at 110 Sibley St. Suite 104 and is open 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Walk-ins are welcome. Visit the Rivertown Barbers Facebook page for more information.