Before Lloyd Hayes can unlock the front door of his barbershop, he has a customer waiting. The one-chair shop called All-Star Cuts at 601 Business Loop 70 has only been open for a year, but Lloyd feels blessed by the business.
Throughout the morning, regulars stream through the glass doors and take a seat on one of the overstuffed chairs to wait their turn. Smooth jazz provides a quiet background for the wide-ranging conversations, which Lloyd says are the backbone of his business.
"The haircut is the icebreaker, that's the given," he explains. "The relationship-building is the real goal."
To do that, Lloyd has worked hard to cultivate a positive environment. "I want to bring back the professional atmosphere, not the hustle and bustle and loud loitering."
Positive affirmations and religious iconography adorn the walls, painted green, white and gold. They are the colors of his high school back in Kansas City, but Lloyd explains they also stand for prosperity, peace and royalty. "People say I'm too deep with this stuff, but everything matters," he says.
He is just as attentive with clippers and a straight razor.
"He gives me the mirror at the end," loyal customer Terrence Williams says, "but I don't even need it. I already know it's perfect."
"I treat this person in my chair as if it were me," Lloyd says. "I'm reviving their image of themselves, their self-worth and self-esteem."
Hayes has a small, regular clientele that he hopes will grow with time. "When you see them coming back, I'm inspired to keep them coming back," Lloyd says.
"One day at a time, one head at a time."