As the world becomes more racially integrated, many of the past's prejudices are falling away. However, a place that people tend to feel more at ease with "their own kind" is in the barbershop and hair salon.
Tiffany Wilson, owner of V.I.P. Hair and Nails, 1154 Hennepin Ave S., is working hard to break these stereotypes. Working hard to promote a diverse environment, Wilson wants V.I.P. to be known as a place where all people, regardless of race, can feel comfortable.
Why do you think that people feel the need to have their hair done at a shop perceived to be a "white salon" or a "black salon?"
A lot of times, I have black clients say that they go to a white salon and can't have their hair done, and white clients who say they have had the same problems the other way. I've had people told that they need to pretty much get their hair cut off from someone at another salon because they [the stylist] could not do their hair properly.
How do you overcome that?
You have to be sensitive to a large number of people and be comfortable with a wide variety of nationalities. We have a wide variety of clients -- black, Asian, Puerto Rican, white -- we have a good flow of all sorts of people coming through here. Sensitivity is encouraged with the people I interview to work here, as well as the people who already do.
Why do you think it's important to serve a diverse clientele?
We have to break against the norm and be comfortable with a wide variety of nationalities. Plus, there are so many people mixing with one another now, the world is getting closer and closer together.
Do you see the salon as a microcosm of a close-knit world?
Yes, I do see the salon as a mirror reflection of that. It's a representation of all kinds of people, and I'm so grateful for that. Life would be so dull if you only dealt with the same kind of people all the time.