CHAMPAIGN — A small quantity of graffiti nonetheless stays on the road in entrance of the brick constructing on the nook of Washington and Hickory in downtown Champaign, remnants of final summer time’s Black Lives Matter protests on the enterprise that previously occupied the house, Rogue Barber Co.
Al Allison will ensure that to wash the graffiti off within the subsequent few weeks as he will get prepared for opening day of a brand new type of hair parlor, not just for the house, but additionally for Champaign.
“There’s stuff I’ve to power-spray off that you just don’t need a child to learn,” he mentioned.
The concept for Subsequent Stage Hair Parlor got here to Allison as he was driving down Neil Road from considered one of his companies to a different. The proprietor of CBPB Popcorn Store and a number of other different institutions had considered opening a barbershop for years, however had by no means discovered the proper place and time.
As he drove by the intersection and seemed over, it hit him.
“I mentioned, ‘Wait a second. Duh,’” mentioned Allison, who’s Black. “I preserve a fairly low profile with companies. I simply do what I do with my companies and I disappear. That is one thing I don’t usually do with, ‘Oh, it’s time for this.’ However on this scenario, it’s actually time for it.”
The previous web site of Rogue Barber Co. was the place to unleash his plan.
He wouldn’t simply open a barbershop, he determined. He’d open a hair parlor, the place everyone seems to be welcome. He’d rent two stylists to primarily minimize girls’s hair and 4 barbers to chop males’s hair.
And they might make it a degree to serve prospects of all types.
“Once I do search for a barber, I search for, ‘Can you chop everyone’s hair?’” Allison mentioned. “As a result of I don’t need anyone to stroll by that door and really feel like they’re not welcome. I need them to really feel like, whenever you are available right here, we are able to service you. And never on a stage that simply passes. We wish service nearly as good as anyone else.”
Final summer time, Rogue Barbershop was the positioning of intense protests after asserting on Fb that it was a “personal membership conventional barbershop (not unisex) not open to most people,” and that potential members have been to fill out an software that, prospects alleged, agreed that they didn’t sympathize with violent extremist teams” that included antifa or Black Lives Matter.
The way in which Allison understands it, the issues started when a lady was denied service on the store earlier than the membership software was uncovered.
“It was a nightmare story all the best way round,” Allison mentioned. Proprietor Michael Lengthy “didn’t characterize something that I really feel Champaign is or was about. … You simply can’t choose and select within the service trade who your prospects are. You present a service. I feel that’s most likely what he simply didn’t perceive.”
The brand new store is bodily smaller than Rogue, however it gives loads of house for a entrance desk, 4 chairs for barbers and two personal stations for stylists, which Allison created by placing up partitions.
Stylist Krissy Ostrander known as it a “distinctive enterprise imaginative and prescient,” that bucks some unsavory traits of conventional barbershops and hair salons.
“It needs to be, ‘Each particular person is valued,’” Ostrander mentioned. “There needs to be no cause to show somebody away on this career. … When it comes all the way down to being valued on your beliefs, your look, the way you’re attempting to ascertain your self, I’ve no points with that.”
Allison, who doesn’t minimize hair and plans to be principally hands-off as soon as enterprise begins, mentioned he’s nonetheless in search of two barbers. Along with their abilities, they have to match some easy standards.
“Whenever you go to barber college or magnificence college, they train you every thing,” he mentioned. “It’s the place you go whenever you get out. You attempt to discover anyone that, even when they don’t know learn how to do each, they’re prepared to learn to do each. As a result of it’s not exhausting. Hair is hair. So with Subsequent Stage, that’s what we’re in search of — barbers who can do each.”
Allison is placing the ending touches on the store, and this week, he’ll have an indication put up on the window that describes the shop’s new identification.
“It’ll say, ‘All hair textures,’” he mentioned. “As a result of my hair shouldn’t be the identical as yours, shouldn’t be the identical as (Ostrander’s). … We don’t need somebody working round Champaign for a White barbershop or a Black barbershop.
“On the finish of the day, simply come right here. We obtained you.”