Outlook Barber Shop and Salon is “on a journey to change hair industry culture.” Co-owner and barber Alex Ryan Brady-Martinez has been working in the hair industry for five years, in both barber shops and salons. Instead of assigning genders to one or the other, his more inclusive approach considers the kind of haircut or style. He explains that the term barber applies to cutting shorter hair while stylist refers to longer locks — and neither term necessarily has anything to do with gender.
“I’ve noticed that barber shops and salons are always separate from each other and rarely work within the same space. We wanted to change that,” he says. “A lot of times barber shops are hyper-masculinized and, on the flip side of that, salons are overly feminized. We wanted to create a space that is very neutral and inviting for all types of people.”
A graduate of Lansing Barber College, Brady-Martinez gives his grandmother, Mercedes, credit for inspiring his fascination with barbering. She grew up cutting her six brother’s hair, and then her grandson’s. Brady-Martinez and his partner, Alex Karatkiewicz, got the keys to the space on July 1. They chose the west side location because they live less than a mile away, they are impressed with the neighborhood’s recent development, and they love being right next to Lincoln Park.
Karatkiewicz, also co-owner, handles Outlook Barber Shop and Salon’s social media and serves as receptionist. A 2017 Aquinas College graduate with a degree in Community Leadership & Communications, he worked in AmeriCorps reconstructing homes destroyed by natural disasters. He used his building skills to renovate the shop’s new space, doing everything except electrical and plumbing.
“We looked up psychology of colors,” Brady-Martinez says. “We decided to go with green because it makes people feel fresh, clean, and the green against the wood creates a foresty [sic], earthy, harmonious vibe.”
Clients will also appreciate the natural, gentle product lines that Outlook Barber Shop and Salon uses and sells. All avoid the standard harsh chemicals traditionally associated with the industry and are cruelty-free. Some are vegan or gluten free. The shop also features soaps, lotions, bath bombs, and deodorant handmade in Muskegon by Soap Dude Cosmetics. Another local twist: the shop will display the work of local artists on its walls and provide those artists with generous commissions when patrons make a purchase.
Best of all, Outlook Barber and Salon has experience with all hair ethnicities and offers generous couple’s discounts.
“The couple’s discount isn’t just for straight couples. It extends to our queer clients, too,” Brady-Martinez says. “Because we have all of the different abilities to do all the different types of hair, we can reach all the different people in the same space.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photo courtesy Outlook Barber Shop and Salon