Supreme cut is a barbershop located in the Regent Park area on 432 Dundas Street east, near parliament and Dundas. Their area of focus is hair cutting, lineups, shape ups & men’s care. The shop is owned by black business owner Flory Wembolwa.
Flory Wembolwa was forced to close his shop after Premiere Doug Ford announcement on Tuesday March 23, 2020, that all non-essential store and services would be ordered to close as of Tuesday March 24th, to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
Flory took the time off that he had to plan ahead until the shop opened up again. He learned at an incredibly young age to always prepare and save for “rainy days.” Flory tell us that it is part of the Congolese culture to always have something aside like an emergency insurance. As a result of this attitude, Flory has no sympathy for businesses that had to close down due to the COVID 19 closure. In Flory’ words, “if you don’t have enough money to pay three months rent, you shouldn’t be in business.”
When Flory received the news that non-essential businesses including barbershops were finally able to reopen, Flory was ready to get back to work. He took all the safety precautions he needed to take to ensure that his shop was clean and safe. Not only for clients but also for employees. He made sure to enforce social distancing between barbers. Supreme is already an appointment-based shop.
He also questioned why his business was not considered a non-essential business because people need these services. Maintaining a decent hair cut is important in your work and how you present yourself. “Would you leave your house to go to work without clean and decent clothes? Why would you do so without a well maintain hair cut?” argues Flory. He also added, “we do more than what you think,” and argues there should be a union for barbers. When a pandemic like this happens there is no one to advocate for our needs and there is nothing for us.”
Flory has also reduced his own hours to take care of himself and works by appointment so as not to stay in the shop for too many hours at a time.
By Gaelle Kosi
(Gaelle Kosi is a summer journalist with the Focus Media Arts Centre).
Watch the full interview here: