Barber shop hopes to 'transform' East St. Louis one haircut at a time – Bloomington Pantagraph

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EAST ST. LOUIS — Rescue Cuts and Styles Barber Salon in East St. Louis aims to “transform, impact, and empower one life at a time.”
Owner Arnold Tutson Jr., known also as Mr. T.J., says he wants his new hair salon and barber shop to reflect some of the city that raised him and “leave a legacy” behind.
“I’ve always had that kind of heart for the community and for the city because I know there is a ton of value in East St. Louis but there is just not a lot of opportunity,” Tutson said. “I’m trying to motivate the next generation, create a business and a brand that people can follow within the community.”
Tutson has partnered with longtime friend Eunolia Williams, aka Coco the Stylist, in the new salon. The pair aim to leave a legacy in the city that raised him.
“Growing up in East St. Louis everything I learned was from the streets of East St. Louis but when I went to the military I saw the world,” he said. “I was able to see what was outside of the 89 blocks of East St. Louis so it’s like now I have to share that knowledge with people, especially the next generation because I know how they feel. When I was their age, I only seen life in one way.”
East St. Louis Mayor Robert Eastern III said he is excited about the growth in businesses and entrepreneurship within the community.
“Any time that we’ve had anybody that wants to open a business in East St. Louis is exciting,” he said. “East St. Louis is open for business for all entrepreneurs. The building where Rescue Cuts and Styles Barber Salon is now located has been closed for some time and we have a new business coming in and breathing life back into it.”
Tutson said he began barbering almost five years ago; he went to barber school after a friend recommended it to him. At that time, he didn’t have any prior knowledge of cutting hair. After enrolling, he said he began to gain experience and respect the craft.
“It’s instant gratification in this industry,” he said. “I get to transform you right now for 35 minutes. I started getting addicted to that, I started looking at it like this is dope. This is something I actually feel like I can do and I’m not too bad at it.”
Occupying once vacant property isn’t the only investment Tutson is making in East St. Louis. Three years ago, Tutson began a nonprofit organization called Haircuts for the Homeless. He has provided over 250 free haircuts in that time, he said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tutson had to halt his services but he plans to continue Haircuts for the Homeless in a new way.
“Right now, I’m actually retrofitting a trailer for a mobile barbershop so we can set it up and have ongoing services for the homeless community so it’s not just a yearly thing, it’s going to be a monthly thing,” he said.
Tutson says he also has been working to implement community-based programs. Some of the programs he has in place now are a reading and voucher program, as well as an apprenticeship.
Gov. Pritzker attends the start of the Du Quoin Illinois State Fair.
Despite facing challenges in his profession, Tutson likes to keep a positive attitude.
“I had to choose my own path and figure things out as I go,” he said. “You’ll bump your head a lot when you do that but you can’t be afraid to keep going.
“I consider myself to be blessed regardless of any experiences I’ve had.”
Tutson’s advice to someone who one day wants to own a barbershop is create a plan, create a strategy, and execute. No matter how bad you want to quit, “just keep going,” he said.
There are 226 businesses in East St. Louis, according to the city clerk’s office in May.
Eastern wishes Tutson and Williams “all the luck in the word” and said they’ll be getting his money when he stops by to get a trim.
Rescue Cuts and Styles Barber Salon is at 1751 Baugh Ave. in East St. Louis. Its hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
A statewide indoor mask mandate for all Illinois residents, regardless of vaccination status, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates continue to increase, effective Monday.
It applies to everyone over the age of 2 and is similar to an order issued in May 2020, which was later relaxed for vaccinated people. 
While face coverings are not required outdoors, masks are strongly encouraged in crowded outdoor settings like festivals and concerts as well as for activities that require close contact with people who are not vaccinated,” the governor’s office
All health care workers, including workers at public and private nursing homes, must get vaccinated. The vaccine has been available for health care and nursing home workers since Dec.15.
​Teachers and staff at pre-kindergarten-12 schools as well as personnel and students at higher education institutions are required to get the vaccine. They must get the first dose of a two-dose vaccination series or a single-dose vaccination by Sept. 5. Second doses of the vaccine must be received by 30 days after the first dose. The COVID-19 vaccine has been open to teachers since Jan. 25.

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