A happy coincidence, Hope business owners Elizabeth Prest and Denise Lauzon say the closeness of their respective shops—Lizzy’s Barber Shop and Iron Butterfly Custom Tattooing—pays hommage to a time when their industries paired up to boost their popularity in North America.
“Tattooing started out in a barber shop in New York City,” Lauzon said, while sitting in Prest’s shop. And the atmosphere of “our shops are similar.”
“Barber shops are a place for men—and women, too—to gather,” Prest explained as she finished up a haircut. “It’s not just about a haircut and a shave, but about propigating a community.
“So that’s what I’ve (tried to) create—a place for people to hang out.”
“And that’s what happens in my place, too,” Lauzon added.
At the heart of their businesses, Prest and Lauzon say they are all about making people happy though helping them create visual representations of their personalities.
“I’m in the looking good business,” Prest said, “But I’m also in the feel-good business: people that walk in here, I make them feel better.”
“Really, it’s all about giving people what they want,” said Lauzon. “I always say it’s $120 hour and the therapy is free—just like with barbering.”
And although both women agree they’re passionate about the art of their crafts, it’s the connections they create with their customers that drives them to continue.
“I can lose myself in the art of doing hair … and the conversation with people,” explained Prest, who’s been a barber since 1979.
“It was a time when no women went into barber school—with few exceptions,” she continued. “I worked for four years, then I got my stylist licence in 1983, and I’ve been working at it since then.”
Not one to focus on a single artistic genre, Lauzon says her tattooing skills encompass many of the traditional aspects of the art.
“I learned in a street shop, just go, go go,” the tattooist explained from within her own shop. “Now I operate a walk-in shop where I can do it all: black and grey, colours. I know how to apply it, I know all the machines, and I’m fully licenced and certified by the Health Board.”
“This is the perfect combo for me, it combines my passion for art and tattooing people,” Lauzon added, who raised her children in Hope before moving north for a decade. “But now I’m back home to live the rest of my life here.”
A sentiment that Prest agrees with. “Within two weeks of being in Hope, I know I wanted to live here (forever).”