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Beauty and diversity

Classy Cuts beauty salon brings people together and makes them feel good

Classy Cuts salon
Classy Cuts owner Kris O’Connor (top photo) and stylist Audrey Perkins (bottom photo) have found that they like working together. “I thought it would be a big deal, but it wasn’t,” says Audrey. (Photos: Matthew J. Splant)
LANSING, Ill. (August) – In the naturally segregated world of beauty salons, Kris and Audrey do not consider themselves crusaders for social change. They just happen to like working together.

Kristine O’Connor is the owner of Classy Cuts. She’s white. Audrey Perkins is a stylist at Classy Cuts. She’s black.

Kris’s story

Kris took over Classy Cuts when the previous owner sold the shop. The sale was somewhat sudden, and in the confusion, most of the previous operators found work elsewhere, though Kris would have been happy to keep them. But she took advantage of the opportunity to do some painting and remodeling before officially re-opening the salon on November 1, 2016.

“I’ve been self-employed on booth rental for about 33 years,” says Kris. “I figured I have another 17 in me, and I might as well do it for myself!

“My clients would always ask me when I was going to get my own shop. I used to tell them, ‘When my son is raised. I really don’t want to take time away from him.’ And now he’s grown. So the timing was perfect.”

Audrey’s story

Audrey has been doing hair in her home for the past 15 years, with a faithful following of clients. When she downsized into a condo, she knew she had to move her hair business into a shop. Classy Cuts is within walking distance of her home, so when her husband saw the “Operators Wanted” sign in the window, he suggested she call the number.

Never having worked in a white salon before, Audrey had some worries. “I’ll be honest,” she says, “I didn’t want Kris to lose clients because I showed up.”

But when Audrey met with Kris, a lot of her fears were relieved. Audrey admits, “I thought it would be a big deal, but it wasn’t.”

No big deal

Of course, it helps that both Kris and Audrey have clients who trust them enough to follow them into a new experience. “It’s safer to just stay with what you know,” said the woman in Audrey’s chair one Saturday morning. “It’s easier for me to just go to a shop where everybody looks like me.” But with Audrey’s reassurance, she came to Classy Cuts, and she has no regrets.

Though coming to a new salon—a mixed salon—can be intimidating for clients, Kris and Audrey are enjoying the experience. “We’re at the point now where we’re trading recipes,” laughs Kris. And both women agree that their husbands are the ones benefiting the most from the relationship—Kris’s husband loves Audrey’s greens, and Audrey’s husband loves Kris’s biscuits and gravy.

Feeling good

Kris understands that the purpose of a beauty salon is to help people feel good. The atmosphere at Classy Cuts is relaxed and fun. And Kris knows that the right cut and style can give people a confidence boost.

Classy Cuts salon
Penny Sumner is a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Registered Nurse who understands the health benefits of massage. Clients can call her directly and then meet her at Classy Cuts, where a relaxing massage room is available. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
To further serve her clients, Kris added massage to the list of services available at Classy Cuts. Penny Sumner is a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Registered Nurse who has set up a comfortable massage room at the shop. She preaches the medical benefits of massage, which include enhanced relaxation, improved circulation, lower blood pressure, and reduced muscle tension. Penny is available by appointment only, as her nursing schedule allows, so Kris encourages people to call Penny directly to make an appointment.

“Everyone but the dog”

Rita Welch is another Classy Cuts stylist. She works days, while her children are in school. Her availability is perfect for seniors who are retired, or local business people who need a trim during their lunch hour.

“I would say we do family hair care,” says Kris, describing her salon. “From children to grammas, we do it all. Everyone but the dog!” Roller sets, coloring, highlighting, perms, and haircuts are all in a day’s work.

With a range of hair services that already includes men and women, young and old, black and white, Classy Cuts is eager to keep growing. Kris has open booths that she would love to fill with stylists who bring their own strengths to the team. She also wants a nail technician to complete the ensemble.

“I love people and this is just what I was meant to do,” she shrugs.


The public is invited to celebrate with Classy Cuts at their ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, October 4, at 9:30am. The shop is located at 3365 Ridge Road, #4. Appointment hours are flexible, so clients can call 708-858-6056 to schedule hair services or 708-280-1877 to make massage appointments.

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Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.