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Lesbian-Owned Barbershop Creates Refuge For Men

What do you get when you cross a neurological nursing instructor, over 100 tattoos and a burning desire to produce the best barbering experience around? You get, Dot The Barber.

Located in Richmond, VA, Refuge for Men, an African-American, lesbian-owned, multicultural barbershop is an experience all its own. From the custom, intuitive mobile app booking system, to the local art covered walls to the random Redskins cheerleaders prancing through its doors, you won’t find another experience quite like it in Richmond. The minute you walk in you feel the rustic, old time energy of the community driven barbershop that your grandfather used to frequent.

Refuge for Men owner, Dot Reid, known in the community as Dot The Barber, started her professional journey studying nursing at North Carolina A&T State Universiy, following in her mother’s footsteps. Her mom was a nurse by day and a fashion designer by passion. Scissors were always around the house, cutting and shaping and designing. While nursing was the family legacy, fashion and design was the family business and Dot caught the bug.

After five years as a nurse and nursing instructor, Dot moved from Greensboro, NC to Atlanta, GA where she spent a lot of her social time in the local barber shops; not just for the maintenance of her short hair cut, but for the experience of community that the barber shop provided her. It was her friends who saw her passion for the barbershop experience that encouraged her to go to barber school. She was off to start a whole other career; one that fueled her passion, individuality and philanthropic heart.

Refuge For Men Mural

Refuge For Men Mural created by Hamilton Glass

On any given day you will find Dot and her entire staff changing lives in her community. She regularly provides free haircuts to kids in her neighborhood. She also donates her time and efforts to the RVA Beard League as their official RVA barber. RVA Bead League adopts one non-profit a year and donates their time and energy to that organization. This year they sponsor Safe Harbor Shelter for Women. They have raised over $12,000 for abused women and children. Dot and her barbers provide free haircuts for homeless women and children as a service to boost their image and self-esteem as they recover from the devastation of domestic violence.

Refuge for Men also provides gallery space for local artists to display and sell their art. Artists like, Hamilton Glass who Dot commissioned to paint a mural on the outside wall of her shop. This magnificent painting on the side of her shop dawns a bald gentleman with a massive beard and the historic barber colors of red, white and blue. You can’t miss it. Hamilton Glass also painted the murals in the parks she grew up and played in, so it was important to support him and the art she grew up with.

When asked about her business model, Dot spoke with pride about her dream of creating a space where clients were celebrated for their individuality. Her motto, “It’s not just a haircut”, speaks the experience one has from the moment they make contact with her shop. It starts with the booking process, and a custom mobile app, designed by Dot where her clients can individualize their experience with personal information like their favorite sports teams and beer. It is designed to create conversation and bonding experiences with the barbers and their clients.  Her goal is to set each client apart by his or her individuality and then integrate that into each visit to Refuge for Men.

Between the warm, inviting shop decor, the love for her community, her celebration of the arts, her philanthropic spirit and dedication to her clients, it’s safe to say that Refuge for Men is truly a refuge for all.