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For many African American males, going to the barbershop consists of sitting in a grimy room while being served and listening to and participating in animated conversations on subjects such as politics, sports and the opposite sex while barbers cut hair.
The clipping and cutting of the hair usually are the services male customers partake in, with an occasional shampoo. However, Le’Vance Bell, the owner of Advanced Grooming located in Virginia malls Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington and Woodbridge’s Potomac Mills, wants the customer experience to be more professional and pleasant.
“Men are beginning to pamper themselves,” Bell, 39, said. “We offer our customers more than just haircuts. We offer grooming as far as their face and head is concerned. In addition to haircuts, we offer facials, shampoos, shaves and treatments for conditions such as hair loss.”
Bell said he intentionally doesn’t follow the traditional barbershop model.
“When you come into our place, it doesn’t resemble a barbershop,” he said. “We have a grooming lounge where you can sit back in comfortable chairs and be served. We have a laid-back, mature atmosphere. Our customers and barbers talk about sports and other subjects in a quiet, dignified atmosphere, no loud talk or crazy music in the background. I have had women who bring their sons to my shops and say they do so because they feel comfortable.”
Bell, a native and resident of Woodbridge, said he started barbering at the age of 12, but formally started his training as an apprentice. He has been grooming hair fulltime for over 15 years.
Bell primarily works out of his Pentagon City location. He credits the Simon Property Group for working with him on both of his locations.
“The leasing agent told me about the opportunity to come to the Fashion Centre and we worked it out,” Bell said. “We are one of a dozen Black businesses in this mall. I like it here because we are close to D.C. The potential for growth is amazing and there are great opportunities for economic growth.”