Father-son duo brings haircuts, community to new Skokie barbershop


Saul Pink/Daily Senior Staffer

Reggie McKinney (left) and Stephen McKinney (right). The father-son duo opened up their own barbershop in Skokie in April.

Saul Pink, Newsletter Editor

When Stephen McKinney needed to pay off a car loan in high school, he started a hair cutting business in an Evanston Township High School locker room. A slot receiver on the ETHS football team, Stephen McKinney trimmed his teammates’ hair for $5.

Stephen McKinney, now 21, is a full-time barber. He opened his own barbershop, CC Fades, with his father Reggie in April. It’s in a corner shop in a strip mall in Skokie, just over the border with Evanston.

Stephen McKinney first started cutting hair when he was eight years old. His father gave him a pair of clippers and asked him to give haircuts to his brothers, something Stephen McKinney learned just by watching his father.

“I guess my hands are blessed,” Stephen McKinney said. 

After briefly attending Aurora University, Stephen McKinney said he went to barber school in Chicago with the goal of starting his own shop. He had his eyes set on the Skokie location due to its proximity to other businesses and ETHS.

At CC Fades, Stephen McKinney’s chair sits across from his father’s. A flat screen TV plays an NBA playoff game, while framed jerseys of famous Chicago athletes and sports memorabilia line the walls. The black and red sign on the storefront reads “CC Fades: Redefining the Neighborhood Barbershop.”

Pauly Jackson started getting his hair cut at CC Fades earlier this spring after being referred by a friend. Jackson said he keeps coming back because of high quality haircuts and the relationships he builds there.

“It’s a very open dialogue, a safe space and environment for my children to be here,” Jackson said.

Ken Hechtman, 70, the owner of the nearby Ken’s Diner & Grill and the landlord for the strip mall, said he always wanted a barbershop in his mall.

Beyond a simple barbershop though, he said the community makes CC Fades special.

“I see kids playing chess and people sitting around and talking and watching a game, and three or four people getting their hair cut,” Hechtman said. “It’s just so heartwarming.”

Stephen McKinney said being a barber has helped him avoid violence and drugs. His father said his goal as both a father and a football and baseball coach was to encourage kids to prioritize school and work.

“I’ve seen a lot of people die young, lose their life at such a young age,” Stephen McKinney said. “It’s really a blessing to be 21. People are telling me, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. You motivate me.’”

For now, Reggie and Stephen McKinney are looking to continue ramping up their business. Though Stephen McKinney said business has started off slow, he expects more clients over the summer.

Despite Reggie McKinney’s insistence that he never taught his son how to cut hair, he said he learns from Stephen McKinney.

“He’s teaching me now,” he said.

Stephen McKinney said he wants to move beyond just cutting hair in the future and host financial literacy workshops for other Black youth. He could open the shop because he saved up enough money during high school, and he hopes to help others do the same.

Each of CC Fades’ barbers have an album cover displayed on the wall next to their chair. Stephen McKinney’s is Nipsey Hussle’s “Victory Lap.” He chose the album for the symbolism of its title, he said.

“I’m getting to that point in my life where I’m starting to see potential success,” Stephen McKinney said.

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Twitter: @saullpink

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