Two new hair cutting businesses are shaping up in the region, each with a focus on the upper tier of the market.
Order, a high-end salon, plans to open at 405 E. Grace St. by early May in the redeveloped building that was formerly the longtime home of The Honey Shop health food store.
The trio of hair stylists behind the concept are trying to fill a niche as a go-to place for people who want a cut that’s more on the artful side.
“We like to approach it on very technical terms. Structured, clean cuts,” Order co-owner Kyed Najdawi said. “If you want something next-level or something more difficult to cut, we can provide that. We see a lack of that in Richmond. Other cities have that caliber of salon we haven’t seen in Richmond.”
The salon will serve both men and women, and will also feature a photography studio to document Order’s work. Najdawi declined to share price points on services, saying they would vary from client to client.
The salon is leasing 3,700 square feet within the building, which sold in 2017 and was redeveloped into a new commercial storefront and apartments. A nonprofit briefly occupied the space Order is taking.
Zach Hernandez at S.L. Nusbaum represented Order in the deal. Andrew Thacker and Thomas Langston, also of S.L. Nusbaum, represented the landlord.
Najdawi, who has cut hair at Hive Salon Studios for five years, will be joined at Order by Corey King (formerly of High Point Barbershop) and Dustin Owen (who has cut hair at High Point and Hive).
Najdawi said the team plans to run the salon as a collective of independent stylists, with each stylist cutting hair and pocketing their earnings as three separate limited-liability companies but splitting rent on Order’s space.
Najdawi said some traditional salon set-ups operate on a commission basis, where the employees pay the owner a percentage of the services rendered.
“It’s a shared space we’re independently working from. Us being so similar in our sensibilities and how we do hair, it made sense to come together,” Najdawi said. “We evolved this brand to put a name to what we’re doing creatively. We’re modernizing what a hair salon could be.”
The trio had been planning this move since around the time the coronavirus pandemic’s economic effects began to be felt in the U.S. last spring.
“The demand for hair is never going away. It’ll be amazing to have more clients as we open the space up, but we’ve established enough of a clientele to do this without walkups,” Najdawi said.
The Confident Barbershop
Another shop with a similar focus on a higher-end experience recently launched in Henrico County’s West End.
The Confident Barbershop opened at 11051 Three Chopt Road in November. Shop owner Wathiq Al’Akelee said he saw an opportunity for a high-end barber shop in the Richmond area, which motivated him to open a shop after several years cutting hair at other local shops.
“Richmond doesn’t really have a fancy, nice barbershop. Some people are looking to spend a good time with the barber,” he said.
The barbershop’s full service package (which includes a haircut, shave and scalp massage) is $45.
Al’Akelee moved to Richmond in 2016 after working for 13 years as an insurance consultant for MetLife in several Middle Eastern countries.
The last post during his stint with MetLife happened to bring him to Bahrain during the Arab Spring of the early 2010s. Unrest in Bahrain and danger in his native Iraq motivated him to seek asylum in the U.S.
“I was very worried about myself because in the Middle East, being from Iraq, you know you’re Sunni or Shia based on your last name. I was worried about my future there,” Al’Akelee said. “I was living in Bahrain, Dubai, and Qatar and I traveled to over 25 different countries. I never felt like I do here. I feel like this is my home.”
Al’Akelee learned to cut hair as a teenager from his uncle and spent summers in his youth cutting the hair of other kids in his neighborhood.
He picked up the scissors again when he reached the U.S., in part due to a lack of English fluency that posed a hurdle to continued work in the insurance industry. He worked at Taylor’s Barbershop in Monroe Ward for two years, then spent a year at Ironworks for Men in Short Pump.
Al’Akelee’s shop is 1,000 square feet and has four chairs. Al’Akelee invested $95,000 into the space, and he has three employees.