No Grease barbershop expands again, now with a franchisee who has big goals

No Grease barbershop expands again, now with a franchisee who has big goals

No Grease! franchise owner Edmund Washington stands in front of a mural by Marcus Kiser and Wolly McNair in his second No Grease! location. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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Edmund Washington wants to own more No Grease barbershop locations than the founders.

Washington opened his first location at Northlake Mall in 2019, becoming the first franchisee who was not a barber.

“Strictly entrepreneur,” Washington told Axios with a smile.

  • His second barbershop opened in August at Charlotte Premium Outlets, with a grand opening scheduled for Oct. 23 from 3-8 p.m.
  • The grand opening, which is open to the public, will feature a red carpet and food by chef Siobhan Brown, Washington’s sister.

Why it matters: This is what twin brothers Damian and Jermaine Johnson, who founded No Grease in 1997, have long hoped to build: a business that lifts up not only them but other Black businesspeople and barbers.

  • Since shedding high-interest loans in 2018, they’ve accelerated their growth intentionally, planting No Grease shops from here to Atlanta and elsewhere.
  • They now have a barber school and 12 locations, six corporate and six franchise locations.
  • Washington owns two franchise locations, and hopes to open a third location in late 2022.
  • “This journey with Edmund has been quite an experience,” Damian told Axios. “By him not being in the industry and just diving right in and really wanting to be a sponge and learn the barber industry has been one of the joys of my journey as an owner.”
    No Grease! co-founder Damian Johnson and franchisee Edmund Washington.

    No Grease co-founder Damian Johnson and franchisee Edmund Washington. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

    His backstory: Washington holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Gardner-Webb University and a master’s in information technology and cyber security from Florida Institute of Technology.

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    Passion project: By day, he works as a technical sales specialist for Microsoft.

    • No Grease! is his passion project and something he is building for his 12-year-old son, Caleb Washington.
    • “It’s a legacy move I can pass down,” Washington said.
    • Like the Johnsons, who got the entrepreneurial itch from their mother, a hairstylist in Buffalo, Washington was inspired by his great grandmother. She owned a nail salon and a restaurant.

    Building others up is key to Washington’s entrepreneurial vision.

    • Lead barber Darnele Chisholm also owns 10% of the venture.
    • Washington hopes the equity in the company will allow Chisholm to open his own barbershop one day.
    Lead barber Darnele Chisholm and franchise owner Edmund Washington stand in front of a mural in the new No Grease! barbershop.

    Lead barber Darnele Chisholm and franchise owner Edmund Washington stand in front of a mural in the new No Grease barbershop. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

    By the numbers: Washington invested $180,000 into transforming the space, approximately the same amount he spent preparing his first location.

    • “You need to invest six figures to get a six-figure return,” Washington said.
    • He used contractor Ramon Perry of Like Father Like Son.
    • Designers Megan Butler and Wendy Brit-Perez, who worked on the Northlake barbershop too, helped create a luxurious atmosphere at the Charlotte Premium Outlets space.
    • No Grease Charlotte Premium Outlets includes seven chairs for clients to be serviced.

    💭 My thought bubble: The barbershop incorporated real brick, which gives it an elegant feel.

    Young child receives haircut at No Grease!

    No Grease! in action. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

    Art makes a space: Charlotte artists Marcus Kiser and Wolly McNair created a mural highlighting the Black experience for the new location.

    • The Savage Way also produced moss art, including a sign reading “No Grease!” above the front desk.
    No Grease! in moss art.

    Moss art by The Savage Way. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

    More than a barbershop: Washington envisioned a luxury concept expanding beyond a haircut or shave.

    • He partnered with entrepreneur Sheena Pickett to add Alpha Male nail care to the space.
    • Alpha Male is only for men.
    • Washington is also pursuing a liquor license for this location in order to add a bar.
    • It will be a full-service bar with a cocktail menu, and customers will be able to scan a code with their phone to place a drink order upon arrival.
    • Twin Towers is signature cocktail named for the Johnson brothers, featuring Maker’s Mark, maple syrup and bitters.

    Go deeper with Michael Graff’s reporting on the No Grease! franchise.

    Alpha Male nail care.

    Alpha Male nail care. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

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