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Crimson Cuts: UA student opens barber shop downtown – The University of Alabama Crimson White

CW / Kate Brooks
Madison Duboise | @madison.duboise, Contributing Writer

In its first month of business, the new barber shop Crimson Cuts has carved out a new space for college students to get haircuts.
What started as one chair in a dorm building turned into multiple chairs in a space off-campus. 
The University holds the annual Edward K. Aldag Jr. Business Plan Competition, where students pitch business ideas to a panel of judges, with a chance to win $50,000. 
Jack Mauldin, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies in the New College, heard about this competition during his sophomore year. 
He brainstormed business ideas when he saw a need for a barber shop accessible to students who did not drive; his initial idea was to start cutting hair on campus.
“We have about 4,000 freshman males every year, and the closest barber shop was almost two miles away,” he  said. 
According to U.S. News & World Report, nearly 20% of UA students do not have a vehicle. 
Mauldin wanted to set up inside each of the residential dorms and rotate daily. He headed into the competition last spring with this idea and made it to the final round. Although Mauldin didn’t win the competition, he walked away with a business idea and a plan. 
“I learned a lot about being an entrepreneur through the entire process, and I decided I wanted to continue going down that path and explore the idea I had,” Mauldin said. 
During the summer, Mauldin attended the Crimson Entrepreneurship Academy, a nine-week summer program where students are encouraged to grow and refine their business ideas. 
“They brought in attorneys, accountants, local business owners, venture capitalists and angel investors, and you really get to develop your idea,” Mauldin said. “It really helped me towards my goal of opening this business. Getting to talk to people like me and that believed in me really helped my confidence and set me up to where I am today.”
After going through both of these processes, Mauldin was determined to start his business. He began reaching out to the University about the possibility of opening up on campus. With each new location idea, he was turned down. He realized he might have to take things off campus. 
He found a space at 2115 University Blvd. that needed renovations. 
Mauldin was four weeks out from opening, and he had no barbers. Missing the key component to run his business, he reached out to local Terry McMiller, the owner of Superior Haircuts, Patriot Clips and Superior Styles & Barber Lounge.
“I wanted to help him out because I know what it takes and I knew what he was about to go through,” McMiller said. “I wanted to see if the kid was really prepared for what was to come.”
The two met the next day and hit it off. 
“Jack reminds me of a young baby lion: They will walk up to anything, bold and not afraid of anything. Even with all the uncertainties I could see his drive, his honesty and his extreme intelligence,” McMiller said. “He reminds me a lot of myself when I first got into the business, not willing to take no for an answer.”
Together the two found employees in time for the grand opening, but Mauldin still lacked marketing. He created social media pages, hung flyers around campus and sent people out with business cards for his upcoming grand opening. 
“Everywhere else I have gone to get my haircut, I usually am never satisfied, and I have to try a new place every time,” said Jake Johnson, a junior majoring in marketing and management. “When I found out about Crimson Cuts, I figured I would give it a try because it is so close to my house.”
Mauldin said he was confident heading into opening day because he believed he was meeting a need in the community.
“It is definitely a more friendly environment compared to other places I have been,” Johnson said. “The music was stuff that most students would listen to, it was really laid back, and it is set up really modern, which I think draws in the younger group.”
Mauldin hopes to create special cards for local groups and organizations that include discounts for community members, such as the fire department and the ROTC program.
“This business is really for the community. Students and other members of the community are why I am here, so I want to find ways to support them and bring them in,” Mauldin said. “I want to find a way to make these groups feel special, because they are special to our community.”
Mauldin also hopes to expand the business outside of the community, possibly throughout the country. 
“I, of course, want to focus on making sure Crimson Cuts is a success, but I do have an idea to expand to have a main company, possibly called College Cuts. We would have different shops for different schools, like Crimson Cuts, at different campuses in the country,” Mauldin said. “I hope to provide a barber shop geared around the wants and needs of students at particular campuses across the country.”
Questions? Email the Culture desk at [email protected].
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