Adrian Zemora, barber and owner of Adrian’s Barber Shop in Garden Grove, was fascinated with the art of cutting hair at a young age. He started to cut hair on his own at around the age of 10 when he found a pair of clippers that belonged to his older brother.
Zemora would practice by cutting his friend’s hair, which then led to him getting into trouble with his friend’s parents.
“Their parents would come to my mom’s house and they would start telling my mom, ‘Look what your son did to my son.’’” Zemora said. “My mom would always go, ‘Where are you, where did you get those clippers?!’ She found them and of course threw them away, but my brother had another pair and I continued to do what I was doing, just cutting friends’ hair.”
When Zemora reached his teenage years, he continued to practice cutting hair, and had a lot of friends who would ask him to clean them up with a fresh cut. Despite his early passion for it, Zemora didn’t immediately go into furthering his education in barbering or cosmetology school.
After high school, he went into the dry cleaning business and stayed there for a portion of his life.
“I did dry cleaning for a long time … I managed dry cleaning plants, I went to dry cleaning seminars, but my heart and soul was in barbering,” Zemora said. “I just never knew how to go about going to school to become a barber. I always thought you learned by yourself in order to become a barber.”
Zemora eventually dropped the dry cleaning business and sought out to pursue his dream. After a couple years of learning cosmetology and barbering, Zemora graduated from Rosslyn’s Barber College and acquired his license.
“I took my test in Whittier and I came back yelling through the freeway, ‘I’m a barber, I’m a barber’ and I was on top of the world,” Zemora said.
Zemora went back to his barber college as an instructor and worked at another barber shop for a couple of years. After his time in these places, he saw the opportunity to open his own establishment by the name of Adrian’s Barber Shop.
Bob Dinsen, former city councilman of Garden Grove and a customer of Zemora’s, donated $3,000 to Zemora to help start his business after he was let go from the barber shop where he was working at the time.
“(Dinsen) wanted to open up a lumber yard (when he was younger) and a gentleman opened up his wallet to help him out. He wanted to do that for somebody if somebody would have done the same thing to him when he was younger,” Zemora said. “I owe him the gratitude that I’m in business because of him.”
Zemora also gives back to the community by committing two days each week to cut hair for firemen at all seven fire stations in Garden Grove.
This tradition originally started because firemen would come into his shop during their working hours. As soon as they would get a call, they would be forced to immediately leave. People from Garden Grove complained about the situation and said it wasn’t right for the firemen to be pampered on tax payers’ money. It was then appealed through the city council, Zemora said.
“After that meeting they were told that they could no longer come in here.” Zemora said. “So the fire captain asked me ‘Hey Adrian, my boys can’t go to you. But if you come to us, we’ll take care of you,’ and I said sure.”
Back in the early 2000s, some of the Angels baseball players, including Bengie Molina who was the former catcher of the 2002 World Series Championship team, took note of Zemora’s barber shop and payed him a visit. Some of the athletes became regulars and even stopped by to give him memorabilia and to sign things for his customers.
“They would bring me their autographed pictures and they would also come here on Saturdays to surprise some of my clients,” Zemora said.
Despite dedicating his entire life to cutting hair and being in business for 23 years, Zemora continues to live his dream, remains fascinated with barbering and said he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I think I must have been a barber in my past life because to this day barbering intrigues me. I just can’t get enough of it,” Zemora said. “I want to do it as long as the good Lord gives me my health, my vision and I’m not shaking.”
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