Dearborn – Iraqi immigrant and businessman Jasim Sakban Alezerej can be seen driving his innovative new business on four wheels around Dearborn and parts of greater Metro Detroit.
Named Ethereal Mobile, the barber shop is housed within a Mercedes Sprinter van. Alezerej, who also goes by the handle Jayy Cutz, came up with the concept and designed the shop himself.
“I started cutting hair when I was 13,” Alezerej, 25, told The Arab American News this week. “I practiced on my nephews, friends and honestly whoever needed a cut. By the time I turned 16, I attended school for hair for both men and women.
“I have always loved to change a person’s outlook on life. Being a barber isn’t only about changing someone’s hair or giving them a new look. It’s about so much more than that. You’re literally a therapist, listening to their stories and making them feel amazing in the process.”
After owning and managing the brick and mortar Ethereal Touch Hair Studio for almost two years, Alezerej, who has only been in the U.S. for five years, was anxious to do something innovative.
“(I wanted to do) something different, something completely out of the box,” he said. “I saw these mobile barbershops which were mostly very common in California and in Georgia.”
He thought of moving out to those states to join their mobile barber shop markets. After some reflection, he instead chose Dearborn as his base, in no small part due to his affiliation with the city and its Arab American population.
“I wanted to give my clientele quality haircuts with VIP services,” he said. “Everyone deserves to feel like royalty no matter who they are.”
True to Alezerej’s VIP business attitude, the black van comes equipped with a hi-tech sound system, a large flat screen, mechanized waiting area chairs with drink holders, a minifridge and most importantly a barber chair and sink with a large mirror attached to the back wall of the vehicle.
“While I was working at the shop, I slowly started to design the van,” he said. “In the beginning, progress was really slow because I was working full time and managing a business.
“I would literally work from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., then come home and work on the mobile shop. I worked with different businesses around America. For example, I purchased the custom chair from New York and the custom AC from Indiana.”
The van is usually parked at 15010 West Warren Avenue in Dearborn. Onsite appointments, where Alezerej brings his business to customers’ doorsteps, come with a travel fee. This price usually varies depending on the distance traveled. He travels as far as 30 miles from Dearborn, but may go out to further communities in the future.
He starts his day early, getting a head start on things before appointments begin at 11 a.m.
“I like to arrive early to work so I can take my time to get my station ready for my clients,” Alezerej said. “Sanitize and disinfect all my tools and make sure everything is clean and ready.”
Alezerej does seven to 10 cuts a day on average. A family man, he shuts down his van on Mondays to spend time with them.
Although the business has only been operating for a little over a month, he is grateful for his clientele and can feel the support from the Dearborn community.
“I would like to thank my loyal clients for everything,” he said. “For inspiring me to better myself as a barber and as an artist. I’m humbled by their trust in me and giving me the opportunity to better my craft each and every day.”