Cut, style, dread

Kim Brown

Kent’s Skullz Salon is like no other

On South Water Street in downtown Kent stands Skullz Hair Salon, neatly tucked between buildings. But on the door screams a bright red, serif “Skullz Salon.”

Walk in. Instant shock. Bubblegum pink walls with black trim. Jet black ceilings and speckled black linoleum floors. Walls covered with vinyl ‘80s and ‘90s rock, punk and metal records. Posters of Kiss and Pretty Boy Floyd. Two long, black leather mod sofas. A pink shag rug. Glitter and toy skulls.

The waiting room: A small TV playing an old Daria episode. Ceiling-to-wall black sheer curtains with silver glitter. Magazines from “Nylon” to “Lucky.” Books from “Film Posters Horror” to “Where’s Waldo?”

Meet Lizz, a Skullz stylist. She’s petite and slender wearing dark, skinny jeans, a black top and black boots. Her hair is short and blond. She’s standing behind the tall, black wooden reception desk splattered with pink paint.

Behind her: more metal and rock music records cover the entire wall of crevice behind her. Kiss. Pretty Boy Floyd. Above the desk: a pink and clear glass chandelier. Hidden in another corner: two blue and red old bubblegum machines, desperately seeking attention in a room full of commotion.

Jeremy, another Skullz stylist, comes walking in to greet his next customer. He stands tall with long, wavy, dirty blond and red hair with black highlighting underneath. His arms are covered with tattoos. He’s wearing an old cut-off T-shirt with military boots and cropped camouflage pants. A middle-aged woman walks into the waiting room from the back of the salon ready to pay, newest hair cut in place. The cut is stylish, short and light with accenting highlights.

Follow Jeremy through the hall. On the left of the door: a sign reading, “Shoes and shirts required. Bras and panties optional.” Down the hall: two large cartoons of painted doves in front of a pink merchandise counter. Red skulls, black T-shirts with the Skullz logo. Skullz keychains. More pink walls with black trim.

On the right: the nail and skin room, brightly accented in neon green paint.

The break room: a vault left from when the building was a bank. A silver vault door stands wide open in front of a normal card table.

Farther down the corridor: A leopard-painted cross on a black painted canvas.

On the left is the office of Angelique, the owner.

Angelique is dressed in a black, swaying summer dress with black leather boots clinging to her feet. She too, possesses several body tattoos placed carefully on her body.

This is the salon’s third location in two and a half years, needing to expand for more space and better location. Angelique says she would like to even expand to a second location eventually. Skullz Salon came as an, “act of God,” she says, after only starting with $3,000 and after she attended beauty school then worked in Columbus and Kent salons. She never intended on going to beauty school and originally planned on going into forensic science.

The four stylists, Angelique, Lizz, Jeremy and Hayley, provide an array of services ranging from styling, coloring, skin and nail care and, yes, even dread locking. Skullz also has one masseuse.

“Most of our clientele is college students, but we still get all kinds of customers, like ‘Hudson moms,’” Angelique says with a smile. “Why should getting your hair cut not be fun?”

“It’s a genuine, fun atmosphere and very laid back,” she says.

Angelique says it’s difficult finding the right stylists and she has been content with the other three she works with.

“I’m investing so much time into this place, you know? Finding someone takes time,” she says. “However, I want the stylists to feel like it’s a part of them, too, as they contribute.”

After Angelique’s office, further down the hall: a wash and dry room, still neon green.

Finally we come to the styling room: Walls covered in graffiti artwork. Cartoon cats. Women. Hearts. Star. Like art fighting against television. Art wins.

Above: A drop ceiling, still black, with white trim. The floor: still black with white specks. Above: large black chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. Six work stations, each original to itself. One: magazine clippings and pictures everywhere. Another: a shelf of rock ’n’ roll dolls. A third: a Freddy Krueger life-size cutout standing next to the station.

In a corner: a boom box blaring punk and rock music. An Etch-A-Sketch sits on pink velvet waiting seats.

Despite all that, it’s a clean place to get your hair styled. There’s no smell. Styling tools are put away.

Flashes of conversation: Old VH1 shows and drag queens. Car repairs. Drinking and turning 21.

Angelique creates dreads in her customer’s hair. He sits quietly in a smock with a pattern of dice and playing cards. The dreading process seems long.

Teasing, twisting, separating, shaping, rolling, repeat. Again. And again.

Lizz walks back, grabs something and leaves for the front, which seems so distant from this room. Angelique teasingly tells her to tell another stylist to wash the waiting room floor — but be frugal with the cleaner — unlike the last time. Angelique calls for a quick break from the dreadlocking.

Out front another middle-aged woman with blond hair walks through the door and into the salon, ready for a cut.

Sometimes the look of the haircut is normal. But the look of the salon is not.

Contact features correspondent Kim Brown at [email protected].