New Dinkytown barber shop caters to multi-cultural customers

Some say Cliques fills a long-needed void near campus.

by Tara Bannow

Jordan Becker used to have to take a bus all the way to Bloomington or Lake Street just to get a haircut. âÄúI know a lot of people that travel all the way down to Chicago and Franklin just to get cuts,âÄù he said. But now that Cliques Beauty and Barber , a multi-cultural barber shop, is open in Dinkytown , the electrical engineering freshman only has to walk a few blocks. In addition to haircuts, the shop does dreadlocks, cornrows, afro cuts, braids and weaves. Starting in November, it will offer hair color and perms. Owner PJ Hubbard , who also owns Mass Appeal in north Minneapolis, said he realized the need for Cliques last year when his staff gave free haircuts in Coffman Union . Members of the Black Student Union (BSU) helped out by starting a petition, which reached 300 signatures, to bring a multi-cultural hair salon to campus. âÄúThe response was overwhelming that there were no hair care services for students of color on campus,âÄù Hubbard said. âÄúThere was a big need for something multi-cultural and diverse that can cater to the needs of all students, regardless of color.âÄù Ashton Penister , a member of BSU, has been pushing to get Cliques on campus since a similar shop in Stadium Village closed in 2006. âÄúWhen we want to go to the barber shop, we have to take buses,âÄù he said. âÄúWe have to drive and waste gas. We have to go half-way across town to a barber shop that knows us and can give us a quality haircut.âÄù For Penister, the salon provides more than convenience, but a way to support black business on campus, he said. The shopâÄôs four barbers, stylist and specialty technician come from a wide range of backgrounds and have experience working with ethnic hair. âÄúWhat sets us apart is we can do more of a diversity: Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, Caucasians,âÄù Mike Ingram, barber and manager, said. âÄúWeâÄôre a more well-rounded shop.âÄù BSU president Cortez Riley said the mission of Cliques and his organization align well, because they both strive to help people expand their cultural horizons. The partnership between the two groups will remain strong in the future, and is likely to include collaboration on events such as BSUâÄôs annual Ebony Ball , Hubbard said. From across the street, Phillip Stevens, manager of Hair By Stewarts , said heâÄôs glad to see Cliques moving in. With students on campus from all over the world, itâÄôs important to have stylists who are experienced in dealing with highly textured hair, he said. âÄúThere are certain areas of the beauty industry that not everybodyâÄôs familiar with,âÄù he said. While he has a stylist who does dreadlocks and extensions, Stevens said he hopes his staff can learn a trick or two from Cliques. Although Cliques is licensed to perform both barber and cosmetology services such as hair color and perms, Hubbard said he chose to call it a barber shop to avoid the stigma of the word âÄòsalon.âÄô âÄúPeople associate salon with expensive,âÄù he said, adding he priced CliquesâÄô services with students in mind. On the shopâÄôs largest wall, Hubbard said he plans to build a âÄúwall of cliques,âÄù a collection of memorabilia from each crowd in the University neighborhood âÄî student and athletic organizations, local businesses, college departments, fraternities, sororities âÄî whoever provides photos or souvenirs. After hopping down from the barber chair, Becker smiled, admiring his freshly-trimmed side burns and beard. âÄúIf you know exactly what you want and they can do it, thatâÄôs probably the most key,âÄù he said. âÄúSo far, they got me.âÄù