Thirty-two years ago Dawn Sanford found herself pregnant and needing not only money, but a career. While that was a start of her happy family, it was also the beginning of a dream.
Despite having no inclination to ever become a barber, she graduated from the Michigan Barber College and took up a chair at Big D Barber and Beauty Unisex Salon (Big D’s) on Livernois Ave.
There, she says she was treated like family, and embraced. Still she wanted to have her own business one day.
You could say the kindness started her on her journey to open her new business, Shears & Shaves Barber and Spa, at 20202 Livernois Ave. in the Livernois Avenue of Fashion District. The business officially opens today, August 12.
“My long-time dream of creating a neighborhood barber and spa where people and families come together for community and comradery has been realized,” says Sanford. “It’s been a long road to get here, but I’ve been fortunate to have so many wonderful people support me on my journey. I look forward to recognizing all of them during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.”
In her first year as a barber at Big D’s, she was given a trip to a spa as a gift. Every year after, they would do the same. Clearly, she was a part of the community. Sanford appreciated and enjoyed it each time the gesture was made. However, she kept noticing they were in places like Bloomfield and Birmingham.
“I wondered, why can’t we have something like that in the city?” she says.
For more than three decades she worked at trying to make that a reality and bring to the city what the suburbs already had.
Sometimes she got closer, and sometimes she suffered setbacks, but she kept her eye on her dream and kept working towards that goal.
Now it has all finally paid off.
Shears and Shaves will offer all the experiences of both a spa and a barber shop. It is divided into two areas, one for the men and one for the women, so everyone can find what they need easily.
The new shop will also call the Livernois Corridor home. It has been good to Sanford, and now she wants to be good to the neighborhood.
Her plan goes far beyond just bringing in a new business. She wants to echo the type of environment she experienced at Big D’s.
Shears and Shaves is to be a place for family and the community – a place where people can get to know each other and hopefully form bonds.
“The barber shop is the drum beat of the city,” says Sanford.
A community center is hardly the end of the discussion. This is something she wants to bring to her store.
Sanford was also inspired when local businesses sponsored Little League teams and other local events. While sponsoring a Little League team may be a ways down the road, Sanford already plans to pick an event to donate to every year. Even as she begins on the path of entrepreneurship, she has something in mind.
She says the first few days of profits will see 10 percent going to worthy causes, and in the spirit on the unisex nature of the business, one will be for men and one for women.
To help men in need, she will give the Willie Horton Foundation. For women, it will be the Amelia Agnes Transitional House.
“That is part of my vision,” says Sanford, “to be part of the solution.”
Clearly, the community and its openness had a big impact on Sanford. It is even how she finally got her dream realized.
It was a customer at Big D’s who first told her about Motor City Match, a partnership between the City of Detroit, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation of the City of Detroit and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which invests in new local businesses it believes can help revitalize neighborhoods.
One of those award winners in 2018 was Sanford, who received $55,000 toward her new business.
She has taken what she loved about the corridor, nursed it, and made it reach further. Shears & Shaves Barber and Spa will be off to a good start as a place for family and community.
Photos courtesy of Shears & Shaves Barber and Spa.
This small business feature is sponsored by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go.