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When Pigs Fly

Photo: Ben Sauer | 35mm Film

“I graduated in 2008 – the worst year to finish school,” sighed Dane Hesse, founder of Eagle & Pig, as he reflected back on his college years. The economy was at its lowest point since 1930, just as Hesse was graduating from Vanguard University with a B.A. in History and Political Science.

As the economy stagnated and the future loomed – and his peers mostly went into finance – Hesse felt pressured to practice something safe, like law. Instead, he decided to pivot and go into business with a couple of his friends, Tom Roussel and Jon Kendall.

“Attending another four years of school just did not sound appealing, so I took matters into my own hands,” said Hesse.

Hesse and Kendall managed Maw ‘N Paw Kettlekorn from 2005-2010. After years of managing the store, they had they idea of starting a distribution out of the shop called “Brentwood.” The distribution was a success, however, Dane did not desire to remain in the popcorn business forever. Eventually, he gained enough entrepreneurial experience to start another company, Orange Surfboards, with Roussel in 2007. Hesse being a man of many hats, didn’t stop there – he enrolled in The Real Barbers Collegeamidst his other ventures, in 2009.

“I was getting my haircut by Mark Miller at his family-owned barbershop on Broadway, and he inspired me to pursue the profession,” Hesse shared.

After completing vocational school, Dane was hired by a local barbershop – all the while still distributing popcorn and running his surf brand.

Hesse was surfing as much as possible, while also managing two companies, building furniture and barbering. Having grown up in San Diego, he was immersed in the surfing and skateboarding culture from a very early age. Surfing had remained his favorite pastime.

“I was riding a lot of ‘pig style’ surfboards around the time we were launching Orange Surfboards,” said Hesse, who preferred classic, 60’s longboards because the wide point back and narrow nose allowed faster trimming through waves.

That board of choice, coupled with his scissor skills, eventually earned Hesse the moniker “Pig Barber” – and it’s stuck.

“People no longer know me be my first name,” he said.

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Work of Art: Clippers are his brush, Clients are his canvas

Photo: Ben Sauer | 35mm Film

As time went on, and Hesse honed his entrepreneurial chops through various ventures, his mind started playing with the idea of starting an independent barbershop. In August 2010, he quietly signed a lease on a unit in Westside Costa Mesa. When the shop in Corona del Mar caught wind of his plans, they asked him to leave, which forced Hesse to launch much sooner than anticipated.

“It catapulted me into the industry,” he said. “I had to either sink or swim.”

Terrible Two: Dane and Justin preparing their stations

Photo: Ben Sauer | 35mm Film

The risk was worth the reward and Eagle & Pig Barbershop open in January, 2011. Having his own space allowed Hesse full freedom in creative expression. Visiting the shop is like traveling back in time: vintage vehicles, motorcycles, craft beer, surfboards, skateboards, and various “American pride” paraphernalia surrounding the perimeters.

At first, Hesse only worked a few days per week, doing about ten haircuts a day. But over the next two years, that’s grown to 20 cuts a day, six days a week.

“In 2012, I also started working with Uppercut Deluxe, expanding my reach in the barbering world. It gave me the opportunity to travel to cut hair,” Hesse shared.

By his fifth year in business, he brought on his current partner, Justin Schiele. The clientele has grown exponentially, ever since. They’re now cutting the hair of NFL, MLB, and NHL players, and local skateboard industry legends like Christian Hosoi, Paul Schmitt and Eric Dressen. Hesse has also had the opportunity to travel all over the states, to Australia, and the through the United Kingdom, barbering.

“I love my clients—they’re Costa Mesa locals. My business is cyclical and word-of-mouth. People meet me around town, find out I cut hair, and stop by later that week. It’s great!” Hesse smiled.

Finishing Touches: Justin showing his blade who’s boss

Photo: Ben Sauer | 35mm Film

You might bump into dynamic duo, Dane and Justin, yourself – at the Wayfarer throughout the week. They have an infectious friendship that can’t be missed.

From delivering top notch haircuts, to being staples in the local community, Dane and Justin are the perfect team. Check out their website or stop by their shop and join the “Swine Club.” ♥

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About The Author

Ben Sauer

I am an entrepreneurial Portland, OR transplant residing in Costa Mesa, CA. Skateboarding and music have wildly impacted my perception of the world onward from the age of four. I am now the Content Coordinator for I Heart Costa Mesa online magazine, as well as the drummer for the band Widows Gold, endorsed skateboarder, and free lance social media coordinator for local small businesses.

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