At 26 years old, Nasir Sobhani has already battled drug addiction, achieved sobriety through rehab, and created a new life for himself devoted to helping those in need. Now, the Melbourne, Australia-based barber is giving back to the community by cutting the hair of homeless people on the street as part of an initiative he calls “Clean Cut, Clean Start.”
Sobhani, who works at a hair salon six days a week, transforms into the “Streets Barber” on his only day off. With his barber kit and skateboard in hand, he roams the streets of Footscray to offer free haircuts to anyone who needs a little help getting back on their feet. As he cuts their hair, Sobhani talks candidly to his street clients, often sharing his own story of addiction and sobriety before asking how they ended up where they are now. Often, the personal conversation strikes a chord in the client, offering a rare chance to connect. “They need actual human contact,” Sobhani shares in a new PLGRM documentary about his kind deeds. “They need some stimulus to help engage them in some intimacy with human beings who actually care for them.”
The barber first started his “Clean Cut, Clean Start” initiative two years ago after he struck up a conversation with a former heroin addict who washed the windows of the salon he worked at. The man had been clean for a month, and wanted a haircut to celebrate the occasion. Smiling through tears, the man's mother photographed her son's transformation after his haircut. This encounter impacted Sobhani deeply, leaving him with the desire to use his craft to inspire change in those who need it.
“I remember the days of when I used to just hate myself, and not even look in the mirror without crying because I would just be so disgusted at who I was. And I find that embedded within a lot of my street clients. They feel so ashamed of who they are,” Sobhani says in the documentary. Giving haircuts to the homeless is his way of encouraging others to get a clean start in life as they leave behind their demons and look forward to the future.