Larissa Chippett came to the Yukon 17 months ago from Kazakhstan. Now, she has opened Yukon Man, Whitehorse’s newest barber shop.
With 25 years of experience as a stylist and 18 running her own salon, Chippett is no stranger to the art and business of hair.
But why start a barber shop? Why cater to men?
For starters, it was the love of one Yukon man in particular that brought her to Canada in the first place.
She met her husband on a dating site for Russians, she said.
“It’s very interesting history. I tried to meet some guy. I apply my resume on a Russian website, and my husband found me. Do you see? He’s not from Russia, he’s from Canada!” said Chippett, with a laugh.
“I don’t know why he is going to look in Russian websites. Probably he want to have adventure with Russian woman.”
Chippett, it seems, was up for an adventure, too.
“When I met him, my English was probably zero. I know the words ‘hello,’ ‘how are you,’ ‘goodbye.’ And now I’m here.”
After nine months of corresponding online, he came to visit her. Soon, they were engaged to be married.
Still today, there is a language barrier. “But heart is heart.”
Chippett had to wait two years in Kazakhstan for a visa to come to Canada, she said.
“I prayed, and I said, ‘Oh my Lord, let me go to Canada, I will be useful, I will respect people, I will do everything they ask me.’ I try to be a good person for Canada.”
Moving here meant giving up the salon she had built over 18 years.
“It was a pretty big salon, I had 12 employees every day, I had two teams. When I decided to be married with my husband, we talked about my business and I decided to sell.”
She promised her husband she would never again start her own business, she said.
But after getting here, she found both life and business to be much easier in Canada.
A friend back home who started a business two months ago had to spend $5,000 on documents alone, she said.
And so, after a year working as a stylist at the Hello Gorgeous salon in Whitehorse, Chippett once again staked out on her own.
“Of course, I am so grateful that they gave me a start there. They teach me, I learn some terminology.”
The Whitehorse business community has been very supportive, she said.
On her opening day, 18 people came to visit with gifts and kind words, said Chippett.
“They brought flowers, they give me cards, congratulations. It shows, people are happy here.
“I felt nervous because it’s a new country, new people, new life. But I believe, since first day, that business will go very well, and I didn’t have mistakes. I see, I am busy now, even just in two weeks.”
Chippett hopes to make her barber shop a special place for Yukon men, because Yukon men are special, she said.
“Canadian law, Canadian rules, grow very, very good men. I can see that because Russian men are alcoholic. They drink. It’s not everybody, but I will tell you, many people drink alcohol.
“When I came to Canada, I found men very reliable, they are very good husbands, they are very good fathers, they are very good. Canada is growing very good men.”
Part of the reason for her business’s focus on men is that she wanted to move away from the dying and chemical treatments that are part of the women’s hair care world, she said.
But she continues to see some of her old clients from the salon.
“It’s not exactly that I prefer to cut men. I’m a stylist, and I like women’s haircuts too. I really cannot give you an answer why I opened a barber shop. Probably because I see what is a different man in Yukon, what is a different man in Canada. I see how they are very reliable, very open. It’s different.”
Yukon Man is located on 3rd Ave. between Steele St. and Wood St. It is open Monday through Saturday.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at