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San Antonio's first all-women barbershop also takes pride in its Hispanic roots

Jennifer Balderrama believed the only way to change the barbershop stereotype was to open her own.

SAN ANTONIO — In an industry dominated by men, one San Antonio barbershop is challenging the status quo.

Prospect Parlor is the city's first all-female barbershop, and one with roots in Hispanic culture.

"We want you to feel like you're in your friend or homie's garage just getting a hair cut," said Jennifer Balderrama, founder and owner of Prospect Parlor.

At their northwest-side location, a good ol' boy's cut isn't only for the men. The salon is for women clients, too.

"Women would express to me that they didn't like going to male barbershops or they didn't feel safe, or they felt sexualized or uncomfortable," she said.

It's a feeling Balderrama can relate to. She found her own passion for barbering more than a decade ago, when she discovered just how male-centric the industry is. 

"I worked with about six to seven male barbers and they were incredibly talented and it was incredibly intimidating," she said. 

It only motivated her to work that much harder, especially when men didn't want to sit in her chair at the barbershop.

"He told me, 'No, it's fine, I'll wait,'" Balderrama said, recalling an interaction with a male customer. "And I remember going to the back and I cried so much in that breakroom."

She believed the only way to change the stereotype that goes along with the barbershop atmosphere was to open her own. Since then, it's felt like home.

But cutting hair isn't the only service Prospect Parlor offers. Members of the nine-women crew also tattoo.

Kree Villegas' talent with an ink pen is a decade in the works. She says the journey to professional tattooing hasn't been easy, and respect was hard to come by.

"There was a group of men that would go around me and they would be like, 'Oh, I didn't know a girl could tattoo," said Villegas.

She overcame adversity, and now lets her art do the talking.

"We just have to be the change in what we want to see," Villegas added.

But their vision as a business is most clear when it comes to inspiring others, especially when passions don't match up with social norms.

"I want young Hispanics to look at us and be like, 'Man if they can do it, I can do it,'" Balderrama said. "Especially females."

Prospect Parlor will be hosting its grand opening on Sunday, October 2 at 12pm. The event will have music, food, vendors, car show and a tattoo contest. Their location is 3218 Northwestern.

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