Logan Square salon caters to queer-clientele

By Sophia Coleman

In the city, enjoying a complimentary beer with a haircut is becoming commonplace, but a stylist who knows queer hair may be harder to come by.

That is where Barbara & Barbara, 3131 W. Logan Blvd., comes in.

Celebrating their one-year anniversary at the prime location in Logan Square in June 2011, owners Sierra Berquist, 25, and Kara Wabbel, 28, have made it their mission to give the LGBTQ community the gender-neutral haircuts they might desire.

The two agreed that too often lesbians and gays go to mainstream salons and come out with haircuts falling squarely in either the male or female category.

At Barbara & Barbara, gender doesn’t enter the equation.

“Originally, we called them ‘lesbian haircuts,’ so we started with a bunch of gay clientele,” Berquist said. “[During] the year, we’ve had people of all orientations come in.”

With Clippers, Fades and Pixies galore, the clients of Barbara & Barbara have nothing to fear or hide once stepping into the small salon, equipped with vintage chairs, a giant storefront window and a mural that depicts the salon owners’ personalities.

“Stylists are afraid to take the clippers to a girl’s hair,” Berquist said. “Here, we’re like, ‘Hell yeah, shave that s–t.’”

Valter Desfassiaux, receptionist at Barbara & Barbara, said the salon mantra of understanding queer hair is more than a marketing slogan. It is part of who each individual working at the salon is.

The name Barbara & Barbara was derived from a long-standing joke between the two owners during a drunken conversation arguing that 20-somethings were no longer named Barbara, and that they should change their names. At the end of the night, it seemed to be a more fitting name for the gallery they had opened before the salon, which was host to queer art shows every other month.

Berquist and Wabbel said the gallery constantly left them broke because they didn’t charge the artists commission. In order to pay rent, they offered haircuts in the back of the gallery.

Though they were getting a steady flow of clients via word-of-mouth, the two knew that opening a stand-alone hair salon would prove to be a better investment.

“It was the organic thing to do,” said Claire Bibbs, longtime friend-turned-receptionist. “The gallery space was great, but they weren’t able to make money out of it.”

Like Desfassiaux, Bibbs was a frequent client before becoming a receptionist. She used to receive bob after bob when she went to mainstream salons. Finally, when Wabbel cut her hair, she felt complete.

“Before, no one had the guts to give me the haircut I was asking for,” Bibbs said.

Now with a staff of eight stylists and a couple of eccentric receptionists, Barbara & Barbara has massive numbers of clients who are looking for haircuts beyond the gender spectrum. Berquist said now more than ever, obscure haircuts are in high demand.

Not to mention, the prices and salon-hours are hard to beat in the city.

“We know we can’t afford a $60 haircut [and that] people have busy schedules,” Wabbel said. “We wanted to provide a quality haircut to the community at an affordable price.”

Above-the-shoulder cuts are $20 and anything falling below the shoulders is $30, which includes a Pabst Blue Ribbon, as long as you’re of age. The salon is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m every day.

“Without judgment, we understand that not everyone wants to look like either a boy or girl,” Desfassiaux said. “Sometimes a person wants to look somewhere in between.”