Nate Mitchell

Nate Mitchell (Photo: Ken Neely)

Nate Mitchell (Photo: Ken Neely)

It is commonly said that artists have the ability to express themselves through multiple mediums. Maybe it is because they are known for taking chances. Nate Mitchell, owner of The Natural Choice Barber Shop & Salon and a professional DJ, goes above and beyond “chance.” He makes things happen.

Mitchell was born in Homewood, and grew up on nearby Lincoln Avenue. He moved from there to Homestead, and returned to Homewood during his teenage years. In fact, his return to Homewood aligned with his discovery of his talents. A Christmas gift of clippers from his parents — with the promise that they would not be paying for his excessive haircuts anymore —inspired him to learn how to cut hair himself. Around the same time, a friend allowed him to experiment with his music equipment and collection, sparking Mitchell’s interest in manipulating sound.

The day before he planned to leave Pittsburgh for Washington, D.C., he learned that he was an expectant father. Realizing his responsibility, he stayed in Pittsburgh, attending classes at Community College Allegheny County/Homewood Brushton while cutting hair in surrounding barbershops. In 1997, he decided to venture out on his own, and opened The Natural Choice in Oakland. He felt that the college town needed a hair shop serving students of various backgrounds, and planned to take advantage of the location.

Later, he saw a similar opportunity in up-and- coming Lawrenceville. He co-founded 720 Records and Cafe, which sold records, merchandise, and housed a cafe for store-goers. Although he is no longer a part of the business, 720 was a great environment for his love of music. He still DJs under the pseudonym DJ Nate Da Barber, traveling across the country and internationally to share his gift.

Mitchell is a lifelong Pittsburgher. And he, and his wife, caring for their two daughters, are raising the next generation of Pittsburghers. Consequently, he can testify to the changes, positive and negative, that local neighborhoods have gone through. Now he is witnessing Homewood experience its own revival. The recent opening of his second barbershop, located on Homewood’s Dallas Avenue, is contributing growth in the community. Not only does Mitchell employ three neighborhood employees, but is also training a barber apprentice. He also rents out The Shop, the facility where the barbershop is housed, to local businesses — but not for money. Instead, he allows them to utilize the extra space if they agree to perform a reasonable amount of hours of community service in Homewood.

Despite all of his endeavors, Mitchell is proudest of being able to leave his mark on his childhood neighborhood through doing what he loves. His business, the Natural Choice, is set to mark its 20th anniversary and Mitchell is planning a free celebration downtown at the August Wilson Center. Like he does in everyday life, Mitchell hopes to bring locals together through creativity and positivity. That winning combination has allowed him to live his fullest life, granting his community the ability to share in his success.