Crime to clippers: Local barber turns life around, opens shop in - KMOV.com

Crime to clippers: Local barber turns life around, opens shop in south St. Louis

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Willie Calloway working inside his barbershop (Credit: KMOV) Willie Calloway working inside his barbershop (Credit: KMOV)
SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -

A South City business owner changed his life behind bars into owning his own barbershop.

Willie “Redd the barber” Calloway said at 17-years old he was in trouble and ended up getting locked up.

“A few years ago, I mean, it was ruff,” said Calloway. “[I was thinking] maybe this jail life ain’t for me.”

While in jail, 24-year-old Calloway said he had a mentor who pushed him to pursue the hair cutting business. A mentor he said saw more in him than he saw in himself. 

He ended up going to barber school and then started working for another barber. That’s where he met Demi Owens – his business partner.

“When something is supposed to happen, it’s going to happen regardless,” said Owens. “If you don’t take a normal route there are always other options where you can still be successful.”

Owens' walk wasn’t easy either. She went to college in Tennessee and said she had more fun than actually studying, so she was forced to come back home.

Their old boss, they said, pushed them to open their own shop to reach their full potential. They said within a month’s time, it happened.

The duo opened The Salon on the corner of Cherokee and Nebraska in early July and it is thriving.

The owners said the neighborhood has been very welcoming and it’s slowly thriving.

“They come in here and they may have certain problems with their hair or even in their personal life,” said Ownes. “Then, once you get done sitting back. Relaxing getting a shampoo, getting your hair down, you feel so much better about yourself and about life.”

Calloway said he hopes his life serves as an example to other young men and women that they can do it too.

“It actually calms me down. As I’m cutting hair, I love the sounds of clippers, I love the sounds of hair cutting and the blades sliding back and forth. It just realizes me and keeps me level headed,” said Calloway.

The owners said they have more than 100 clients and they hope that continues to grow while making people feel better and look better to help them do better.

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