Our spotlight shines this week on Andrew Lee, owner of Paloma Barbershop. A native San Diegan with a passion for inspiring confidence, Lee’s goal is to provide a peaceful place where people can get cleaned up for the daily grind, practice self care, and create community.

Andrew Lee, owner of Paloma Barbershop

“When we take care of ourselves, we can connect with each other a little easier.”

Andrew Lee

A good barber not only knows the ins and outs of cutting hair but must also have a sympathetic ear. There is something about sitting in a barber’s chair that allows people to open up and express themselves. The barber is someone who has probably heard it all, and as such can offer keen advice.

For Andrew Lee, owner of Paloma Barbershop, becoming a barber was a natural choice. Coming from two generations of nurses, Lee realized it’s in his blood to help ease people through life’s ebbs and flows. He is a great listener. He’s patient. And he genuinely cares about people.

Inspired by the confidence a fresh haircut gave him to land a new job, Lee set out to learn the trade. He trained at a local barber academy, mentored with established barbers, and finally in 2016 launched his own shop.

Lee wanted a barbershop with a positive ethos. So, he baked the mission right in the name, “Paloma”, Spanish for dove. Lee chose the dove, a symbol for peace, claiming it’s the only hope we have for the world. He says, “When we take care of ourselves, we can connect with each other a little easier.”

Lee believes the barbershop experience is one that reflects the unique lifestyles and personalities of each individual who sits in the chair. Personal connection, empathy, and inclusivity can make a basic grooming practice go from an act of duty to one of strength and self care. “Cold drinks and great tunes are also paramount to having a good time in life,” Lee added. “So we have those, too.”

Picking a location for his business was a little challenging, but Lee fell in love with a cozy spot on 28th Street. He said Golden Hill was the place he felt he could best serve because of the eclectic mix of people who seemed to really care about their neighborhood. He describes his storefront, “Like a geode in the heart of San Diego’s Golden Hill: a little rough and unassuming on the outside with a burst of color and intentional expression inside.”

Indeed, the inside of Paloma Barbershop is exciting. A pink lava-lamp mural pulsating magic vibes dominates the far wall. There is a custom pink and green barber’s pole in the corner and a handmade stained glass sign hanging from the ceiling. Old school barber’s chairs sit across from sleek wooden benches. Lee certainly put a lot of thought and effort into creating a vibrant space that also feels warm and welcoming.

Lee specializes in both traditional clipper cuts as well as mod-inspired, shaggy cuts with shears. He is inspired by traditional barbering techniques that transform a normal haircut into something of a pampered grooming. Lee only uses cruelty-free, natural products, including his own handcrafted rosewater aftershave. No matter the cut, customers will leave Paloma with a freshly shaved neck, a nice smelling aftershave, and maybe a pep in their step.

“I pride myself in using my empathy and expertise in traditional barbering for a holistic, comforting experience,” says Lee. “My daily motivator is making people feel welcome and boosting their confidence.”

Traditionally, the barbershop is a community space where people gather and meet their grooming needs. At Paloma, they take this communal ritual to the next level. Their book club events and creative potlucks bring a diverse range of people and their talents under one roof to share their joy and merriment.

While the pandemic has put many of his community events on hold, Lee still offers support and advice to anyone in his chair. When I visited, I asked him if he had any advice for young entrepreneurs. Lee stroked his beard as he thought and said, “Put intention into every detail of your business.”

Wise words from Mr. Lee. From the art-filled walls to his community building efforts, Lee has without a doubt infused intention into every detail.

Paloma Barbershop is located at 2802 B Street. They are open Tuesday to Saturday. Appointments necessary; no walk-ins at this time. You can reach them at (619) 542-9181, by visiting, or on social media @palomabarbershop.

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