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PHOTOS: Kelowna’s mobile barbershop, the Okanagan Lake Serpent

“I could set up anywhere like a food truck. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, what could go wrong?”

Shemaine Sugarcane moved to Kelowna from Merritt in 2009 with hopes of going to school for interior design.

She didn’t end up enrolling, but after spending a year in Kelowna, she knew she wanted to stay. She dreamed of going to hair-dressing school during her years as a high school student, so she decided to give MC College a try, the city’s hairstyling and esthetics school.

While she completed the program, she realized halfway through that she wasn’t really interested in being a hairdresser.

“I didn’t like doing the perming and the updos — all that extra jazz. But I liked cutting hair,” Sugarcane said. “I thought, ‘How can I do that?’”

Shortly after graduating, the Kelowna Barber Shop was willing to take her under their wing. From there, she spent the next eight years working and learning the ways of a traditional barber.

“I’m grateful for that training that I got because not everybody gets that anymore. A lot of people just have hairdressing training,” she said.

As she settled into her role at the shop, the idea of launching her own slowly began to germinate.

“Eventually, we got a phone call at the shop and they were asking for someone to come out to do shaves and haircuts for a wedding party at Lake Okanagan Resort,” she said. “I couldn’t go out there and do shaves and a haircut in a hotel room. It’s not really set up for that. I thought I would build one in a bus or a trailer or something.”

As she gave it more and more thought, she decided to do just that. After returning to Kelowna in April 2019 following a six-month stint in Australia, Sugarcane began working on her own mobile barbershop.

“I just wanted to own my own shop. Having it mobile made it so I could do weddings and events,” she said. “I could set up anywhere like a food truck. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, what could go wrong?”

With the help of friends, she slowly converted a small cargo trailer — six feet by 10 feet to be exact — into a mini barbershop. In October 2020, she launched her one-person business: the Okanagan Lake Serpent Mobile Barber Shop.

“It’s been good so far. I’m really happy that I’ve done it,” she said.

Located in the parking lot of ONE Boardshop off of Enterprise Way, the Okanagan Lake Serpent Mobile Barber Shop operates Tuesdays to Saturdays.

“I just want the customer’s life to be easy with their hair. I guess my goal is to give someone a haircut that works for their personal life and their style,” she said.

Eight months into her business, she said her focus right now is building her clientele and growing her portfolio. She recently towed the shop to her first event: a wedding in Penticton.

“I want to get to a point where I can build a bigger shop because this is a little tight,” she said. “It’s good for now and what I could afford at this time. Eventually, I would like to get into a bigger bus and maybe bring an apprentice on.”

Looking back on her journey, she said she never thought she would get to this point.

“It seemed like a good idea, so it got to the point where I needed to grow and move on from where I was at,” she said. “I had to do it. I just had to do it.”

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