CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Shawn Paul is the co-owner of Shawn Paul’s Salon in Cleveland Heights. He said he prides himself on making everyone, and anyone, feel beautiful and the truest versions of themselves when they leave his salon.
“We want everyone who walks in this door to feel welcome and feel loved,” he said.
But traditional salons, can at times, feel anything but welcoming for members of the LGBTQ community.
“A salon puts you in a binary role. You’re getting a women’s cut, or a men’s cut,” he said. “Salons have always been set up to be male or female and it’s ridiculous because that’s just not how the human population works anymore.”
Salons, typically, rely on gender identification to determine the price of a service, but Paul’s salon has made a change: the length of hair determines the price of the service and that’s it.
“When we switched our format, we added barber cuts, that means we are going to use clippers. Short cuts can be on any human, it’s just a technical length of what we are doing. Medium, long hair, any human,” he said. “ I’m not sure how the gender binary came to be in our industry but it never needed to be. It should’ve always been about skill and length.”
Daniel Hamilton with the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland said the hair industry is one of the only industries in which the price of service is determined by gender.
“There’s always that risk that someone’s going to be perceived as a gender that they don’t identify with. Or, if somebody is non-binary or doesn’t pertain to the typical look of a woman or a man, that can be really challenging to distinguish what services they are going to be provide,” said Hamilton.
To Hamilton, the move makes sense for everyone and creates a fairer pricing system. Paul said they’ve always charged based on the service provided, now, it’s just official.
“We’ve had guests for years make comments like ‘yes I am a female and you’re charging me for this women’s haircut, even though I’m getting a buzz cut,’ so we’ve always adjusted our prices to the cut,” he said.
Paul hopes the change creates a more inclusive Northeast Ohio.
“We want everyone who walks in this door to feel welcome and feel loved, and that’s our mission,” he said.