Malichi Male is dedicated to a few things, and barbering isn’t necessarily one of them. But St. Thomas is, and he’s opened his new urban barbershop called Saint T Fashion & Hair Design in the downtown core because he wants to help revitalize Talbot Street and fill a need for the people of St. Thomas.
Located at 587 Talbot St., Saint T Fashion & Hair Design will have a hairstylist and another barber joining the team by the time they have their official grand opening in early March. This is also when the “fashion” part of the store opens. Malichi’s business partner, who currently sells urban clothing at his London store The Jumpoff, will be bringing in brands like Crooks & Castles and Prada, as well as shoe brands like Puma and Nike.
Filling a Need in St. Thomas
Saint T Hair Design began as an idea after Malichi posted a video on Facebook of himself doing a haircut. He says his inbox was immediately flooded with requests from followers to start an urban barbershop specializing in hairstyles like fades and hair tattoos, particularly for mixed race hair. Several messages were from moms of mixed race kids who have to go to London to get a haircut because the few places in St. Thomas that offer these types of cuts are slammed and require booking months in advance. Without a car, their trip to London using transit was expensive and time consuming.
“Once people were like, ‘This is what we need,’ I was like oh man, I did that years ago, I don’t want to do that,” Malichi says. “But then the inbox messages just kept coming and coming and coming.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t like hair design: “It’s art – equivalent to me painting or drawing or making music,” he says. Malichi started cutting his own hair at age 12, and soon word got out that he had skill with a razor. The demand from classmates and neighbourhood kids was enough that soon after high school, he opened up his own barbershop with some friends. It still operates in Mississauga as Imperial Hair Design.
“I’m not afraid of failure. If I fail, who cares, I’ll just do something else.” –Malichi Male
Helping Talbot Street Come Alive
The hip hop artist and producer’s main motivation for Saint T Fashion & Hair Design can be found in the name; he wants to see St. Thomas revitalized. He chose to call his shop a St. Thomas nickname to “keep it in people’s mouths,” similar to how Toronto is affectionately known as ‘TDot’ or ‘The Six.’ He wanted to create something that would attract people from outside St. Thomas to the city, and an urban barbershop will provide a needed service for people in Aylmer, Port Stanley, and Elgin County. “I’m sick of everybody leaving St. Thomas. I want to bring in stuff where people have to come to St. Thomas,” Malichi says.
The barbershop is currently open until 7pm, with plans to have it open later and later as it grows. Offering a music and entertainment aspect will help keep it busy later into the evening. Malichi’s business partner, King, is involved in night entertainment and they plan on hosting autograph signings and allowing new artists to perform there and market their CDs. Malichi wants to help extend the life on Talbot Street: “Right now, after 6 o’clock, the street’s dead,” he says, but he can see things slowly changing as new businesses arrive on Talbot, and he wants to contribute to that change. “It’s gonna be the happening place,” Malichi says.
The artist from Mississauga has been involved in everything from producing music to acting in OTC Therapy’s upcoming film to running for mayor in 2018, but the heart is the same. “I don’t love stuff, I love the fact that I’m able to supply something that people need or want,” he says.
“It’s almost like, you have a child and your child loves soccer. You hate soccer, but you’re gonna go to every single game, you’re gonna be there, you’re gonna soccer mom, you have the t-shirt, you’re yelling, but you hate soccer! But that’s your child, so you love soccer because of that.”
Malichi loves St. Thomas and its people, and his barbershop is what the people want.
Video and song by Malichi Male. Featured image by Marty Lewis, Establish Media.