Uncle Keese realizes a Detroit barber’s long-time passion

Uncle Keese realizes a Detroit barber’s long-time passion
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Sometimes finding a passion takes time and might not line up with original plans.

That was the case for local barber Marquis McMillan, 31, owner of Uncle Keese Barbershop, 14723 Plymouth Road. It wasn’t until later in life that he started pursuing his long-time passion.

Marquis McMillan opened Uncle Keese Barbershop on Plymouth Road near the neighborhood where he grew up.

“I’ve been cutting hair since I was about 13,” says McMillan. “I started out small and as I got older, about 18, I took it a little more seriously.”

Though only open eight months, the shop finds itself with a number of regular customers. Before opening the business McMillan went to school at Wayne State University and Argosy University in North Virginia to become a teacher.

He realized later what he truly wanted to do. At 25, McMillan graduated from Michigan Barber School and has been cutting hair professionally ever since.

Currently the store has four part-time employees and operates from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The shop averages several customers a day and more during weekends, but service is by appointment-only.

McMillan averages several customers a day and more during weekends, but service is by appointment-only.

He opened Uncle Keese’s near the same community where he grew up.

“For me it felt right. It felt authentic,” says McMillan. “There’s a certain feeling of home. I feel like these are my people. So some of us feel comfortable being close to what you’re familiar with.”

McMillan likens the barbering experience to more than just cutting hair. For him, it’s beyond the title of “image specialist,” letting him use his grooming expertise to help others. One of the ways he helps customers is by cutting hair at three nursing homes, including Regency HealthCare Nursing & Rehabilitation in Troy.

“I used to work in a nursing home,” he adds. “Working there you meet so many different interesting people and a lot of them don’t have family, so they tend to gravitate to the employees. So I developed a lot of relationships while there.”

Women are frequent customers at the barber shop.

Kayloni Posey, an Uncle Keese customer, gets her eyebrows arched at the shop.

What she likes most about the way McMillan does business is his professionalism.

“He’s not like normal barbershops,” she says. “You go to a normal barbershop, they’re playing all that rap music and the men are going to be men. Here you feel comfortable. It’s not like men versus women. And he’s very educated.”

Posey also says McMillan’s variety of services gives women a reason to visit.

“I think it’s good to be able to diversify yourself because you get different types of people to come into your shop,” she says. “If you (only) specialize in cutting hair, a woman wouldn’t think to walk in.”

Editor’s Note: This small business feature is sponsored by Bank of America. To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go.

Small shops are the mainstay of our neighborhoods. Open the door and look inside and you will discover dreamers and doers who embody the spirit and energy of Detroit’s entrepreneurial class. We invite you to meet them inside our Small Shops series, sponsored by Bank of America
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