The first thing I noticed when I took a seat in Suite72 was the wall decor: Al Pacino, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Jamie Foxx all had framed posters –Muhammad Ali had two. Beside the master barber’s chair, a pair of Luke Cage figurines rested on a wooden shelf. Within the chair sat the master barber himself, Suite72’s proprietor Rick James.
Hailing from Sikeston, Missouri, Rick James was born an only child. Rick’s parents had him later in life, so they had plenty of life lessons to impart. They taught Rick the importance of valuing family, working hard, and being a gentleman. Rick’s father passed down skills such as how to tie ties and shine shoes, skills that helped Rick develop an appreciation for style and precision that has stuck with him his whole life and is manifested within his craft.
Rick began his hair-cutting career at Leonard’s Barber College, a school in St. Louis that prioritizes skill and professionalism. He attended school for eight months and lined up a job at a friend’s barbershop in Cape Girardeau.
“The day of my graduation, I got my license at 12 o’clock, drove down to Cape, and was cutting hair at 2 o’clock. It all happened like that,” said Rick, with an emphatic snap of his fingers.
Although the team cut hair together for a while, Rick’s coworker was forced to leave the shop when his mother fell ill. In 1996, Rick’s friend offered up ownership of the shop to Rick. Although Rick wasn’t sure whether he was ready to run the business, he accepted the offer and bought the shop with money that his father loaned him.
Twenty-two years later, Rick James continues providing his customers with traditional razor shaves, beard trimmings, and steam towel treatments. He has many clients of all ages and professions, but they all depend on Rick for the same thing: making them look good. It is demanding, but Rick enjoys every minute of it. Being a barber is more than just being a person that can cut hair. Your barber is your friend, mentor, confidant, and your wingman. Rick embraces his roles with pride, and knows that his experiences and wisdom make a difference in his community.
When he’s not behind the chair with scissors in his hands, Rick spends his free time with his wife and kids. Rick and his wife met years ago by bumping into each other at Schnucks. Rick asked her out then and there, and now they have four daughters and a son. They spend most evenings as a family and attend Lighthouse Church services together on Sundays. When Rick does get a moment to himself, you’ll catch him cruising through town on his Harley-Davidson Road Glide.
Rick is also a film connoisseur. There was only one TV in his childhood household, so when it got dark outside Rick would watch movies with his father. Cinema became a shared love between Rick and his father, and it led to Rick developing an appreciation for old-school classics. Some of his favorite actors are Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson, but he still appreciates more contemporary actors like Idris Elba and Tom Hardy. Asking him to pick a favorite movie would be like asking him to pick his favorite child, but he could definitively tell me that The Godfather Part II is the best sequel of all time.
As far as upcoming projects are concerned, Rick excited to focus on building his brand. Rick teaches a class at Trendsetters during the week, and he’s debating a change of attire for Suite72 employees. Whatever’s in store, there’s no doubt that Rick James will remain committed to ensuring that everyone who walks through the glass door of their favorite barber’s barbershop experiences the Suite life.
Disclaimer: This blog post and other Brick-and-Mortar Bulletins on this blog are not an advertisements, nor are they an expression of favoritism on the City of Cape Girardeau’s behalf. The purpose of this blog is to spotlight our local business owners/managers and thank them for providing the innovation that shapes the identity of the city and allows our community to thrive.
Seth Watkins is from Troy, Illinois and attends Southeast Missouri State University. He majors in public relations and minors in writing. Although his dream job would be drumming in a rock band, Seth hopes to build a career for himself in either the corporate or healthcare sector of PR. To learn more about him, visit his LinkedIn profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sethwatkinspr/.