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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

After Losing Their Jobs During Coronavirus, Hair Stylists Open Their Own Edgewater Salons

After losing their jobs, two stylists on the Far North Side are realizing their dreams of owning their own hair salons.

Alonso Rodriguez (l.) and Greg Nelson have opened The Cuttery and Studio 64, respectively, after their previous salons closed.
Joe Ward/Block Club Chicago
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EDGEWATER — The coronavirus pandemic caused the closure of two local hair salons, but former stylists at those salons are now opening their own businesses.

Following the stay at home order in March, Salon 64 on Berwyn Avenue and the Hair Cuttery on North Clark Street were forced to shut down.

At Salon 64, 1064 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., the owner decided to retire rather than try to reopen during the pandemic. Hair Cuttery’s parent company filed for bankruptcy and closed all of its city stores, including the Andersonville location.

But those storefronts did not stay empty long, as stylists at the closed salons have opened their own businesses.

Studio 64

The former Salon 64 is now Studio 64, a salon themed after famed New York night club Studio 54.

It is the brainchild of Greg Nelson, a former stylist at Salon 64 who decided to take over the business after his boss’ retirement.

“My clients kept saying, ‘When is he going to hand this over to you?'” Nelson said. “He was just ready to retire, and I had all these ideas.”

The timing of Salon 64’s closure worked out for Nelson, even if it meant he was out of job.

The building that housed the salon had recently been sold to a new landlord, who didn’t want a vacancy. Nelson got a good deal on the space and decided to use his unemployment money to launch his own business.

Studio 64 has a renovated interior, including brightly colored walls with glitter. A red velvet rope hangs from the store’s front door, and disco ball chimes ring out when someone walks in.

“I took my inspiration from Studio 54,” Nelson said. “It’s brighter, more inviting.”

Studio 64 will eventually be a full-service salon, with coloring and manicures available. Pricing will be gender-neutral, so the cost of a service will be determined by the length of the hair, Nelson said.

Studio 64 is aiming for a Oct. 1 opening. After having dreams of owning his own salon, Nelson said he is happy to see it come to fruition, even if it’s during a pandemic.

“Every piece of the puzzle lined up for me,” he said. “Sometimes, the stars align.”

The Cuttery

Hair Cuttery’s bankruptcy has been Alonso Rodriguez’s gain, even though he also lost his job in the process.

The nationwide salon chain had been at 5539 N. Clark St. for more than 17 years. The stylists were ready to return to their chairs when the company abruptly announced it was closing.

“They told us the morning of [the scheduled reopening], ‘Your store won’t be open any more,'” Rodriguez said. “Fourteen of us were out of a job on a single day.”

Soon after that, Rodriguez saw a “for rent” sign in the former Hair Cuttery, its styling booths and furniture still in the shop.

The location already had a built-in clientele, so Rodriguez thought to try his hand at owning a salon. He joined with his boyfriend and a business partner to open The Cuttery on July 1.

“It was either [open it ourselves] or find someplace else to work,” Rodriguez said. “I couldn’t look for a job because everything was closed.”

Rodriguez was able to rehire five of his former coworkers — the most allowed to operate in the salon at one time.

Some customers returned right away, but Rodriguez said some are still nervous to venture out for things like haircuts. He said the store is doing about one-third of the business Hair Cuttery was doing before the pandemic.

The business should be enough to see him through the pandemic. Once that happens, Rodriguez said he will truly make the place his own, putting up new signs and awnings.

“That was always the goal,” he said of opening his own shop. “I just didn’t think it would happen this fast.”

The Cuttery is open noon-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

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