This story was republished with permission from The Buckeye Flame
Getting the right haircut doesn’t just mean finding a style that suits you; it also means finding a barbershop where you can feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging.
At LGBTQ+-owned Barbercult and LGBTQ+-friendly Black Cat Barbershop — both in Cleveland, Ohio — getting a haircut also means being a part of an environment that is warm and inclusive to every patron who sits in those swiveling chairs.
The Buckeye Flame reached out to Barbercult’s owner Ariana Perez, and Black Cat’s co-owner Patrick Corrigan, to learn how these two shops create “vibes” that convey a feeling that everyone is welcome from the moment they walk through the door to that inevitable gram-worthy pic with their fresh new fade.
What does identifying as an LGBTQ+-friendly shop mean to you?
Perez: An LGBTQ+ barbershop is identified to me as a safe place where a barber can work and a client can be served. As an LGBTQ+ barber, it’s important to find an environment and people you feel comfortable working with.
Corrigan: Identifying a LGBTQ+ friendly shop really stems from the culture they exhibit. In most cases these shops are located within LGBTQ+ friendly neighborhoods where other small businesses bond together to create a comfortable “scene” for everyone. Our shop created a mission statement in our bio online, embracing all the culture from within the diverse community in which we exist. Obviously, word of mouth and internet views aside, it really comes down to the “vibe” and tone set from the moment you walk in a shop. It’s important for anyone and everyone to feel welcome the second they walk through the door.
What is it about your shop that makes it unique and inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community?
Perez: Barbercult was uniquely put together for the LGBTQ+ community, but everyone is welcome. We are undergoing renovations but I will be looking to hire a few barbers from the LGBTQ+ community. This is an occult barbershop, not the typical bro vibes. If you walk past my shop, you’ll smell incense burning and see a creepy Santa Muerte Altar. We listen to dubstep and Bad Bunny. We are Barbercult.
Corrigan: I wish I had a more complex answer but honestly…We just treat everyone nicely. We operate under the ideal that anyone who comes through our door is treated equally. It’s as simple as that.
How can you decide on a new cut that works for someone, such as a haircut for a gender non-conforming person?
Perez: I usually suggest some pictures of haircuts that may catch their interest, unless they show me an idea of what they are looking for!
Corrigan: We listen to our clients. A lot of times for clients, their hair and personal style do the talking for us. It’s really all about being an open book when it comes to giving someone the perfect haircut. Just listen and be nice!
What are some brief tips you can offer for someone choosing a haircut or barbershop?
Perez: When choosing a haircut:
It’s great to have a picture to show your barber or stylist the look you want.
If you want, look up the dimensions of your face so you can see what kind of haircut looks best with your shape.
Figure out how much length you want to take off when you get a haircut.
Choosing a barbershop is crucial. It’s all about the vibe and yes the haircuts. Some tips on choosing a barbershop:
Look up the social media and see if it’s your vibe.
Read the reviews and check the online portfolios.
Look up prices and check out the barber if there’s any info on them!
Corrigan: Again, it’s all about vibe and being yourself. Go where you feel comfortable and communicate freely. It’s about being in an environment that gets you. It is our hope that this wouldn’t make our shop that unique. But if a rock’n’roll, tattooed, old school Barbershop/Salon in a funky neighborhood is what you’re looking for…c’mon down and see us!
Cassidy Naypauer is a future Speech-Language Pathologist who has always been passionate about writing, languages, and travel. She double-majored in speech pathology and Spanish at Miami University, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in speech pathology at Baldwin Wallace University.