What's in a name? Stages

PHOTO: ANNE KRASSNER
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Two year-old Stages Grooming Lounge, a hair care establishment at 464 Grand Avenue (between Fulton & Lefferts—next to "Samantha's Southern Cuisine" and the new café "Brooklyn Natural"—provides a relaxed and professional atmosphere.  The vibe comes from John Olds, the owner, whose trials in life have made him embrace the importance of doing what he does to the fullest and having fun each day.  John, a native Brooklynite, and the other 3 hair care specialists with whom he works, have a commitment to provide a pleasurable experience and excellent hair care to the diverse array of clients who come through the doors.

FAB: How did you get started in the business?

John Olds: It was a mystery when I went to the barber as a kid to see a full head of hair turned so nice.  When I was twelve, they told me to take my cousin to the barbershop.  Instead, I used my stepfather’s clippers and I tried to remember everything I saw my barber do.  The clippers got so hot they started burning my hand; I couldn’t hold them.  It was summertime too, so you know it was hot.  I got through the cut and took him back to the house.  Everyone liked the cut, and that’s how I got my start.  I got my first shop gig when I was fifteen.  I learned from a lot of barbers.  I would ask what clippers were for what. 

From seventeen to twenty I worked in Manhattan, cutting celebrity hair–Bill Bellamy when he was on TV, Jagged Edge, Wu Tang, Andre Harrel.  I started working for Mona Scott, the talent manager, and Puffy’s barber, Mike.  They had a salon, but they wanted barbers, so I put a team together.  It was good.  I had a lot of fun with it.  Every job I’ve had, they had a name or I helped them get a name.

In 1999, I started working at Levels in Harlem.  Eventually, I asked the owner, Kamal, if he would consider opening one in Brooklyn.  At first he was reluctant, but when a friend of mine and I picked out a perfect spot on Fulton Street, Kamal came in and helped us get it.

FAB: How long have you been in the area and what made you choose it?

John Olds:  Two years.  I knew the area because I was managing another  shop in Clinton Hill before I opened this shop.  I felt it was time to move on–to build my own business, and I wanted to stay around here.

FAB: What do you like about the area?

John Olds:  I like the people.  Good people. Diverse people. I like that there are more stores and more choices–the eateries, where to go.  Didn’t have much of that before.

FAB: Working with FAB, the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) created a new pedestrian plaza at the Putnam Triangle. What are your thoughts on that?

John Olds:  It’s cool.  I was for it.  I still am for it.

FAB: What would you recommend to other businesses in the area to be successful?

John Olds:  We need to promote each other.  Talk to each other.  Promote each other to our customers.  I already do this with Samantha’s and Edward Jones, and some of the others.

FAB: What do you want the community to know about the shop?

John Olds:  We’re for the people. We cut all kinds of hair.  It’s a homey shop; it feels like home.  People can come here and be themselves.  We do hair cuts, hair washing, facials, hot oil treatment.  It’s not a hang out spot.  We play nice music. It’s a shop for the mature.  Also, my door is always open for new talent.

FAB: What do you want people to know about you?

John Olds:  I call this place Stages because of the different stages of my life.  I had 2 kidney transplants and dialysis.  I damned near went blind.  The medicine gave me diabetes.  I didn’t know if I was going to make it.  I had one foot in the casket and one foot on the ground.  I figured I better do this now.  Move on to the next stage.

Stages Grooming Lounge
464 Grand Avenue (Between Fulton & Lefferts Place)
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
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