New salon on Wayne State campus to highlight the social side of the barbershop
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Detroit Lions running back Keiland Williams gets his hair cut by Sebastian Jackson, who made a house call to Williams' home.
Photo: Michelle Muņoz
Wayne State University's campus is about to get a new hangout.
The Social Club, a salon with an emphasis on socializing, is set to take over a space at 5272 Anthony Wayne Dr. Jan. 16.
Founder Sebastian Jackson wants to make The Social Club just that: a place where people gather. He wants it to have a "cool country club" atmosphere with salon services.
The space wasn't easy to get. Businesses seeking to operate on the campus must get approval from the university. He said he frequently called Wayne State for about 10 months to see what the status of the space was and to work out a plan for a profitable business.
Jackson, a 25-year-old public relations student at the school, had to tweak the plan he presented to Wayne State several times in order to get the site formerly occupied by Salon X, where Sebastian worked as a barber.
Originally, Jackson had hoped to create a nonprofit salon space where high school and college students could get free services and entrepreneurial hopefuls could gain experience. But Wayne State wanted the space to be occupied by a for-profit.
Though the previous salon business in the same space closed, Jackson said he isn't nervous. He goes back to a saying he heard to justify his belief that the new salon will prove successful.
"Bet on the jockey, not the horse. ... This is a great horse, but I'm an even better jockey," Jackson said. "I know me, I wouldn't let it fail."
Jackson is hoping to create a more comfortable and homey feeling than the previous space had.
"I feel like (the salon) was kind of cold," Jackson said. "Being here three years, I had a lot of time to think about how I wanted it to be."
To make guests feel more at home, there will be couches and chairs, rather than hard plastic chairs that make some salons feel like a waiting room. There will also be desks so students can get work done.
One thing that won't be there is a television, so people will be more likely to talk to each other rather than stare at a screen.
Everyone working in his salon will be fully licensed, and he said the stylists will be full-service, from perms to wraps. He has hired nine people and plans to hire four more.
Also included in his concept for the 1,554-square-foot space are massage therapists, a nail technician, stylists, barbers, a shoe-shine station, study stations, couches and chairs. Jackson is planning to price cuts at a student-friendly $12 with occasional specials.
The stylists and barbers will be well suited to serve the needs of all ethnicities, Jackson said. The prospect of having a diverse crowd is something he is looking forward to.
"You can learn so much from different types of people," he said.
Jackson has been crafting his idea for about two years. He saved $20,000 to start the business by working as a career services advisor, cutting hair and convincing generous family members to help out.
Rent for the space is $14 per square foot — 26 percent less than when he first started bidding. If it hadn't been for Wayne State pressing him to polish the business plan, he would have ended up with the higher rate and a more difficult road ahead."Everything happens for a reason," Jackson said.
In the meantime, Jackson has been traveling to meet clients he met during his work at Salon X, like former Wayne State running back Joique Bell, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints, and also picked up some new ones.
Detroit Lions running back Keiland Williams is one of those new clients. Jackson travels to Williams' home to cut his hair for now, but Williams said he'll be in the shop once it opens.
For a recent cut, Williams closed his eyes and got relaxed for a recent cut, something he finds easy to do around Jackson.
"Any real good barber will form a real good relationship with clients," Williams said. "We pick up each week like we've been talking all week."The original idea to give students free services and would-be entrepreneurs some experience has not been cut. Jackson said he plans to start that program, called Campus Cuts, possibly in September.