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Valleywide search for ‘the perfect location’ lands new barber in the Crossroads of Taylorsville

Aug 29, 2018 04:32PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Darren Herder (R) trims his Dad’s beard while Mom supervises. Rob and Valerie flew in from Philadelphia for their son’s barber shop grand opening. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com 

Nearly every business card we’re handed in the Salt Lake Valley includes a phone number with the familiar 801 area code. When we see 435 we think “outside the valley.” And most of us associate 385 with ‘some government office — here comes the phone maze.’ 

So, when Darren Herder hands us a business card, what are we to make of his 215 area code? In a word, that makes one of Taylorsville’s newest business owners “authentic.” 

Darren owns and operates “A Philly-Aided Barbers.” That 215 area code — just like Herder’s childhood — is rooted in his hometown, the “City of Brotherly Love.” 

“I moved out west in 2007 to attend Weber State University,” Herder said, sitting inside his spacious new barber shop (5608 South Redwood Road). “I planned to move out here to get an education and then move back to Philadelphia. But I got distracted…and before I knew it, I fell in love with the place.” 

However, after leaving Weber State Darren admits, his life didn’t really have a lot of direction for a couple of years. He worked a sales job, and he helped a friend coach a little league football team. But his meandering career path led Darren to what he calls “my loser moment.” 

“I was cutting a friend’s hair, which is something I have loved to do — with no real education or training — for years,” he said.  “My friend got tired of hearing me whine about my situation and asked, ‘Why don’t you go to barber school?’ So I thought about it for a week and couldn’t come up with a reason not to do it.” 

So, in 2016, Darren enrolled in The Barber School, in Midvale, much to the delight of his mother, Valerie Herder-Dean, back home in Philly. 

“It (barbering) seemed like something he was really interested in — and I hoped for a long time he could find something to sink his teeth into,” she said. “I knew it had been a hobby of his for many years. So why not make a career of it?” 

Indeed, Herder gave his first haircut, to himself, at about age 11. But he’d never actually been paid to give one, until he started attending barber school. 

“Over the past two years — while attending barber school and since finishing there — I have built up a clientele of about 50 regular customers,” Herder added. “That’s when I decided to get serious about it and started looking for a shop location.” 

Herder considered locating in downtown Salt Lake, West Valley City, South Salt Lake and elsewhere, before settling on his Taylorsville location (north of Ross Dress For Less, and around the corner west of the FedEx Center).

“My lease here is $1,400 per month; total expenses are closer to $1800 monthly, and I invested nearly $25,000 to remodel and equip the shop,” he added. “It’s a big commitment. But if you are going to do something, do it right.” 

Herder’s first employee hire, not surprisingly, is a cosmetologist who’s also from Philadelphia, Gabrielle Hill. 

“I’ve known her my whole life,” Herder said. “She moved out from Philly about 18 months ago and agreed to join me. She’s one of the reasons I decided to open.” 

Herder also hired a second barber early on but is now waiting to staff his other three chairs — in the 1,200-square-foot space — until the business grows. 

“I am excited for him,” Rob Dean said of his stepson. “We’ve always had faith that everything will work out for him, and I think this will.” 

Rob and Valerie have made the Philadelphia to Salt Lake flight several times to visit their son. But when they came out this summer — for the A Philly-Aided Barbers shop grand opening — a couple of Valerie’s sisters joined them, each making their first-ever Utah visit. 

As per barber tradition, the shop is closed Mondays. The other six days Darren and staff provide: haircuts, head shaves, beard trims, scalp services and other treatments for men, women and children. 

“We spent a lot of long nights and 14-hour days getting the shop ready to open,” Herder concluded. “I’ve never worked so hard in my life. But it was also fun.” 

If you’d like to know more, you can call or text Darren — and possibly dial the 215 Philadelphia area code for the first time in your life — at 215-285-5678.

 

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