Part old-school barbershop and part hip-destination salon, tonsorial Barbershop is the brain child of Crystal McDaniel, who prides herself on excellent hairstyles for those who love short hair.
Tonsorial (adj.) — a word you may not come across often, but by the end of this article, you’ll be glad you did. It’s a term that refers to the work of those who give shaves and haircuts. In other words, a barber. Tonsorial is also the appellation of a great location for a short haircut, beard and mustache trim, or other unassuming yet fashion-forward hair care need in The Boxyard in downtown Tulsa.
Part old-school barbershop and part hip destination salon, tonsorial (the lowercase “t” in the name is intentional) is the brain child of Crystal McDaniel, who prides herself on offering excellent hairstyles for those who love short hair. Tonsorial draws both men and women, though the clientele tends to skew toward men for one obvious reason — McDaniel and her fellow barber, Meriah, don’t do elaborate up-dos, complex coloring, acrylic nails or anything else that you’ll see at a female-oriented salon. What they do offer, though, is caring, detailed, cutting-edge styles for those who want their locks cut tight to their scalps.
McDaniel’s love for everything barber-related started at a young age. “When I first started my career, I was 16 and doing an apprenticeship,” she says. “I knew I loved what I was doing, but I didn’t know what the next step was. So, I got with some friends and we made a beauty shop in McAlester [Okla.].” McDaniel worked there for 20 years, until she and her wife decided on a move to Tulsa at the end of 2016.
Once in Tulsa, McDaniel investigated rental spots where she might open a new barber shop, but was turned down from the first few sites she visited because none of them wanted to house a hairstyling business. Then The Boxyard opened up as a possibility, and McDaniel was sold on it. Soon, she says, her barbershop business took off.
“The space was small, and it was easy enough for me. I thought I would be a single chair,” she says. “But then it got busier and busier. I thought, ‘I’m going to have to hire somebody.’ So we picked up the other chair, and Meriah moved here from California.”
It was a match made in barber heaven, clearly, since Meriah fit right in and helped tonsorial double its clientele in no time.
What can you expect when you visit tonsorial? Pretty much what you’d expect from a high-quality barber shop that can accommodate the latest trends. “This is a barbershop by definition, because I’m a barber,” says McDaniel. “Is it a barbershop that your granddad goes to? If he’s cool, he will! It’s a very trendy spot because it’s in The Boxyard, and my wife is a very trendy decorator. We’re kind of quirky, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It’s a really balanced location.”
By balanced, McDaniel means that not only does the shop blend a casual yet eclectic feel that appeals to a wide clientele, but also that despite the word “barber” in its business description, tonsorial draws every gender, every age, and every sensibility from the Tulsa population.
“We have a lot of guys who come through, but we also have a lot of girls who come through,” she says. “I’m very focused on fashion-forward, trendy, barbershop styles. And there’s a bunch of girls who like short, trendy hairstyles. It’s not just your father’s barbershop.”
Tonsorial draws a steady clientele of both regulars and drop-ins, and they’re busy enough that appointments are recommended. It’s easy to see why the spot is so popular. Customers rave about the service, the artistry that goes into each haircut and beard trim, the expertise that both McDaniel and Meriah display, and the fun, warm vibe of the shop and its barbers.
A lot of this is due directly to McDaniel’s passion for her craft and her dedication to always learning new things. It’s not her style to do the same-old, same-old over and over, and that love of discovery proves its worth with customers who are happy to benefit from McDaniel’s experience.
“We’re going to a barber expo in Connecticut in April,” she says. “We’re really excited about that, just to make sure we’re spot on with what we’re doing. Last year, I went to a shave class in London, just to make sure I’m constantly growing.”
This commitment to constantly learning more and offering the best service means that customers at tonsorial can expect to receive the best in all-around care and techniques.
“We’re a full-service barbershop,” says McDaniel. “We do hot towel, two-pass shaves, which is where we use a straight razor on the face. Every short hairstyle that we do, we’ll always use a straight razor on the back of the neck, and always try to take it to that next level of shortness if we can. We have limited color. We do eyebrow waxes. We do beard trims and mustache trims, mainly above-the-shoulder hair.”
If you’re looking for what’s super popular right now in short hair, McDaniel recommends the undercut as one option — a hairstyle where the scalp is shaved underneath, and the remaining hair hangs over it, a throwback to ‘80s style that is making a comeback. She also gets asked for cropped textured fades. The Caesar-style haircut is also in again, she says, with some tweaks that make it fit for 2018. Traditional haircuts are also always popular, as are well-trimmed beards. McDaniel can offer tips on beard care for those who need some coaching.
Though the shop typically keeps daytime hours, tonsorial happily incorporates special times to match up with special events at The Boxyard, as well as First Friday Art Crawl — anything that will help bring people downtown and show off what makes Tulsa so special. “We’ll have some late night, Friday night shave nights,” says McDaniel.
All in all, McDaniel is thrilled with the response tonsorial has received since the shop opened, and she is happy to give that love back to the Tulsa community. “It’s been great,” she says. “It’s like Tulsa really wants us to succeed. I am so grateful.”
The Boxyard | 502 E. 3rd St., Unit 36 | Tulsa
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
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