In his element: an alum’s journey from chemistry to clippers

By Carly Whetter, Foundation and Alumni Relations
Photos courtesy of Barber & Co.

When Jamie Stanton was earning his Chemistry diploma at Douglas College, he never thought he’d end up working in a lab at a barbershop.

“I thought I would be specializing in waste water management,” he says. “But then I realized I wanted to be in a lab and researching. I don’t think it matters if my lab is in a barber shop or if it’s in a university or if it’s in its own multi-million dollar facility. I’m still doing what I love to do,” he says.

There’ll be no mad scientist hair in this lab.

Jamie has been working at Barber & Co., an environmentally conscious barbershop in Vancouver’s Yaletown, since early this year. As the barbershop’s only chemist, Jamie is in charge of research, product development and testing.

Ultimately, he focuses on producing high quality, environmentally sustainable products – like their matte pomade and forthcoming aftershave tonic – for barbers and clients alike. “A lot of products can have toxic chemicals in them and there’s not enough consumer education on why these ingredients can be harmful. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research into natural preservation systems. We don’t use any perfume or any artificial scents or fragrances, only essential oils because they have medicinal benefits,” he says.

Building blocks for success

Jamie applied to Douglas College on the recommendation of a family friend and began his studies in 2009. He applied his academics to a co-op work term at ALS Environmental as a lab assistant, where he also conducted an independent research project.

Jamie, mixing up a batch of sustainable hair products.

He says the education, skills and experience he received at Douglas continue to benefit him. But mostly, it was about the people. “My education at Douglas was so valuable because I was able to form relationships with my instructors. The whole chemistry department was just fantastic and was super beneficial in forming the chemist I am today,” says Jamie.

Doing what he loves

After two years at Douglas, Jamie transferred his credits to Thompson Rivers University to complete a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He plans to eventually pursue his PhD. Until then, he hopes to continue to grow as a chemist at Barber & Co. “This job has taught me a lot about doing what you love and what that looks like in your own life. I’ve realized that going into the lab every day isn’t work – I get to do what I want to do. Every single day is fun.” 

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