Friday, March 30, 2012
Moneta man carves out a new career
Greg Desaulniers, aka The Yankee Whittler, now operates a barbershop.
LAURIE EDWARDS | Laker Weekly
Jeremy Poe of Moneta has been getting his hair cut at SML Barbershop by Greg Desaulniers since the shop opened in May.
Last year, Greg Desaulniers traded in his chainsaw for something with a little less power and a lot more precision: barber's clippers.
The Moneta resident is well known around the lake for his 20-plus years as The Yankee Whittler. Desaulniers turned living trees into works of art, such as the 13-foot-tall sea captain that stands lakeside in Boxwood Green, that visitors and locals used as landmarks.
But business, while fun and lucrative, was tough.
"Doing that type of hard work, running a chainsaw six to eight hours a day, that's young man's work," said Desaulniers, 58.
Illness also influenced Desaulniers' decision. He had to undergo six months of medical treatment after working with spalted wood left him with a potentially lethal respiratory infection.
In 2007, he attended Excel Barber College in Lynchburg thanks to Goodwill Industries' Vocational Rehab program that helps people learn new skills for job placement. From 2008-2011, Desaulniers worked at a Vinton barbershop.
Last year, Kenny Pagans approached Desaulniers about renting some commercial space in the former Pagans Grocery, built by the Pagans family in 1965. Desaulniers renovated the space, equipped it with three barber stations (he hopes to grow the business) and decorated it with his own wood carvings and wood furniture.
"This is a shop built by a guy for guys," he said.
The shop's menu is simple. Regular cuts cost $13. Flat tops, bald fades and hot shaves ring in at $15, and full beard trims are $8. Although he learned to do them in barber school, Desaulniers doesn't offer perms, colors or styling. Still, he's been able to attract half a dozen female clients.
Although Desaulniers doesn't wield the chainsaw full time anymore, he still runs it on the side. One of his most recent works, an antique barbershop pole replica, sits in front of the shop.
SML Barbershop is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 8a.m. to 6p.m., Thursday from 8a.m. to 7p.m., Friday from 8a.m. to 5p.m. and Saturday from 8a.m. to 1p.m. 1776 Scruggs Road, Moneta. 721-0068.