Typically, when you’re ready to book an appointment to get your hair done, you think salon or barber shop. The industry is undoubtedly gendered. Yolanda Trejo, the founder of Yo:u, is aiming to blur those lines. Her equal parts salon and barber shop refuses to differentiate by gender, race, sexuality, or any other social confines that have acted as barriers in the past.
Trejo opened her business on Halloween of 2015, but when asked when her passion for hair originated, she recalls liking hair and people from an early age.
“I think it discovered me,” she said.
Trejo reflects on some of her original goals including attending beauty school, barber school, and massage school. She knew that she wouldn’t feel comfortable calling herself a true hair guru without a well-rounded understanding of the industry’s many components.
Following barber school, Trejo began to realize that no such salon existed that would accommodate her desire to do it all, and to do it all well. So, she instead started her own.
“I feel that incorporating both [a salon and a barber shop] has nothing to do with competition and has more to do with inspiring my industry and the world to stop segregating our minds, our talents, our communities, and our people.
The tradition of barbering and hairdressing goes back to Egypt [and] it’s sacred. I feel blessed to be doing what I do. The only thing I compete with is my mind and [my] time.”
Much like her broad, all-encompassing interest in hair, Trejo wanted the interior of her space to reflect the same sentiment. Wanting a space that could be morphed easily, everything in her shop is designed to be flexible, open, and allow plenty of light in. This movability allows Trejo’s salon to not only serve its purpose, but to provide a community for creatives in Chicago.
“I see it as my purpose to do as much as I can to help make this world a more beautiful and positive place. I consider myself an artist but it took a long time for me to get here because I “do” hair, not paint or sculpt. I think this industry has grown and is getting the respect and artist appreciation it deserves. The idea of hair being art came after hours of brainstorming. My clients, friends, and family have all put their love into this (which is why it’s called Yo:u). Part me and part you, we are nothing without each other.”
When asked about some of her favorite hair products, Trejo swears by Bumble and Bumble, which she’s been using for over a decade now.
“My go-to is BB Tonic Lotion which is amazing for air drying or refreshening your hai. It has tea tree and nettle which helps deodorize and rebalance the hair. BB Grooming Creme is also a favorite which is great for enhancing my soft natural wave, controlling poof and frizz, but without taking away from my hair being big. My favorite for my guys is Sumotech which is a flexible matte paste that allows you to have a great look but still move your hair around.
My sister has a line called Mammabruha which I sell. She’s in San Francisco and her lip balm and beard / hair oils are a must!”
In this field or any other, Trejo is inspired to save the world.
“I love humanity,” she said.