VOL. 133 | NO. 144 | Friday, July 20, 2018
A Cut Above
By Patrick Lantrip
Longtime Downtown Memphis barber Excell Blanchard has been cutting hair for nearly a quarter of a century, and in that time, he has built up a loyal clientele base who has moved with him from one venture to next.
Since December, Blanchard has been operating his latest concept, ZoeShi, out of a ground floor retail space in the Cabinet Shops Lofts on South Front, but thanks in part to a working relationship with landlord Vince Smith, Blanchard will be the first commercial tenant in the second phase of Smith’s 266 Lofts development, 266 S. Front St.
“This will be the fourth salon that I’ve put together,” Blanchard, who previously ran the Salon Lofts in Court Square, said. “So I’m pretty good at putting this stuff together.”
“It’s like an art form for me,” Excell Blanchard says as he meticulously lines up the beard of longtime customer Bernard Carter. Blanchard recently signed a lease to open a second ZoeShi location in the soon-to-be-completed 266 Lofts development on South Front Street. (Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)
Since Blanchard will have more room at his second ZoeShi location, he’s looking to expand his focus to incorporate a more spa-like atmosphere, by adding several manicurists into the mix.
For the design of the new space, Blanchard said he likes to take a modern, minimalist approach.
“It will be very chic, with a concentration on selling hair care products,” he said.
Blanchard said one theme he likes to use in his salon designs are elevated styling areas, which he said is fitting for his location in the South Main Arts District.
“It goes with my theme, because we’re artists,” he said. “We’re on stage while we’re up here making people look the way they want to look.”
For the buildout in the 266 Lofts location, Blanchard tapped Danny Johnson with J.M.C. Contractors and handyman Jeff Burns.
Meanwhile, Smith said he ZoeShi will be fantastic fit for his new development.
“It was a need for the South Front Street,” Smith said. “I casually ask people all the time what they would like to see in the neighborhood, and a repeated answer was a day spa.”
As for the residential portion of the 266 Lofts development, Smith said he is targeting an August move in date, and 100 percent occupancy by October.
“We are looking at first occupancy on Aug. 1,” Smith said. “They are over 50 percent pAZre-leased as of today.”
Up next for Smith is his Museum Lofts development near the Lorraine Motel where construction is scheduled to begin this September of October.
As for Blanchard, he’s just happy to be doing what he loves.
“I couldn’t ask for anything else as far as being self-employed and the avenues that extend from working in this industry,” he said. “So many things have come from just standing behind this chair and meeting people.”