Andrew Boyd came to Chicago Heights in 1981, just a year after losing his father.
Originally from East Chicago Heights (now known as Ford Heights) Boyd came of age in the schoolyards of Kennedy Elementary and Washington Junior High before making Bloom High School his alma mater.
Boyd became a man in Chicago Heights, and at 41 years old, he hasn't forgotten that.
"This is my home," Boyd said, leaning forward as he sat in a barber chair. "That’s why I stay here, because this is home."
Boyd has been cutting hair in the same storefront shop at the intersection of Ashland and Route 30 since 2001. He took over the business, now known as Supreme Clientele, in 2004, and the rent has not been cheap.
"I've been paying $18,000 a year since 2004." Boyd said. "That's a lot of money. I thought, 'I might as well put that into my own building.'"
Boyd dreamed of taking his business to the next level, free of strip-mall renting expenses.
In May 2011, the business owner became a building owner, sidestepping a mortgage payment in favor of buying a building on Halsted Street outright. But the entrepreneur was quickly exposed to the financial burden of owning a building.
"Honestly, it’s been a living hell just getting funding for this," Boyd said. "We bought the building with cash. That pretty much wiped me out. I’m thinking since I’ve got a building and I own it, I can go to the banks and get money. It was hell trying to get loans anywhere. Nobody would give me a loan. They said I went about it the wrong way. ‘You should’ve got the building financed.'"
Boyd was shocked when he was told paying a mortgage was better than paying cash. He says the taxes alone on his new building are more than the rent he paid at his previous location.
As time passed, however, equipment loans and the help of friends and family broughthe business owner closer to his dream. Boyd said the contractor did most of the building renovation without taking any money up front, agreeing to wait until Boyd's small business loan was approved.
"I’ve been blessed to have good people in my corner," Boyd said.
Once a kid in the Heights, Boyd now sits in a barber chair surrounded by walls he owns, proudly reflecting on his grand opening last Sunday. Mayor David Gonzalez helped cut the ribbon and even got a haircut while he was there.
"Upscale" has become a frequent term for Boyd, who said his primary goal in opening up at the new location was to put people in awe.
Anyone who walks into the new Supreme Clientele on Halsted Street will see flat screen TVs, monitors in the mirrors, hardwood floors and tons of space. The shop is broken into two sides with equal space for barbers and cosmologists, including Boyd's partner Tiffany Bennett. A central hallway takes customers to a small spa, where they can get facials, manicures, pedicures and massages.
"I heard, 'Man, you went over and beyond on this one,'" Boyd said. "That was my objective. To keep the same intent and the same atmosphere, but to make it more upscale."
Boyd is bringing four other barbers and two cosmetologists from his previous location and expects to end up with a total of ten barbers, eight cosmetologists, two or three nail technicians and a masseuse. but Boyd said a higher quantity of personnel won't detract from his business's service.
"We do good quality work," Boyd said. "We can't just have people come in that can't do that. Besides being in a nice homely spot, you're getting the right services."
The longtime Heights resident has participated in back-to-school events for years, giving hundreds of District 170 students free haircuts —a way of returning a favor to the schools that raised him. Boyd keeps the kids in mind when he talks about his new shop, located at 301 S. Halsted Street.
"We are a family-oriented place," Boyd said. "A nice place where you don't mind bringing your children. Your kids can get their nails painted while you get your hair done. That kind of place."
When it comes down to it, Boyd simply wants his customers to feel the way he does in Chicago Heights: at home.
To learn more about Supreme Clientele visit the Patch Directory listing.