Fox Den Salon in Minneapolis creates a welcoming space

Fox Den Salon in Uptown Minneapolis has removed all gendered language from their service menu and takes part in several initiatives to promote inclusivity.

MINNEAPOLIS — At Fox Den Salon, all are welcome, regardless of socioeconomic background, race, or gender identity. It’s an atmosphere that Sica Dawn, the salon’s creative director, intentionally created.

“We want people to feel comfortable,” Dawn said. “There are so many boundaries or barriers up in salons.”

Dawn, who identifies as queer and non-binary, using they/them pronouns, aims to remove barriers like gendered language and strict dress code. Growing up, they always loved getting their hair done but didn’t always feel welcome at salons.

“As I got older and got more immersed in the LGBTQ community, I saw more and more that people, even within our spaces where we are as inclusive as we could be, were feeling that left out feeling,” Dawn said. “Or feeling that – am I going to walk in here and not see people that look like me? Not have people that can relate to my experiences.”

At Fox Den, stylists’ and staff members’ pronouns are displayed on the website and on placards at the salon, encouraging appreciation for each person’s identity. Gendered language like “men’s” or “women’s hairstyles” is absent.

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“We are living in the 21st century,” Dawn said. “All men don’t have short hair cuts. All women don’t have long hair. There’s no reason to be pigeonholing people into those service languages, and there’s no reason to be sending out things and saying, ‘hey ladies!’ in all of your marketing because that’s not the world we live in.”

This welcoming atmosphere is why stylist Erica Botz said Fox Den is the only salon she applied to out of college.

“I feel like I wouldn’t be able to be myself in any other salon,” Botz said. “I don’t want to be the stylist that stands out at a different salon by the way I appear, the way I dress, the way I present myself. I don’t want to be the oddball. I want to be a part of an oddball family.”

Botz, who also serves as a shift lead and talent recruiter at college fairs, says she takes great pride in the ability to bring out a client’s true self through a haircut. She says it’s “heartbreaking” to hear from clients who come to Fox Den salon after being told no at other salons.

“If somebody comes in and they’re female-presenting but they want a short haircut, a lot of times older women, and they just want a queer, short haircut, and other salons have told them no,” she said. “My job is to let people express through their hair what they want – regardless of any other aspects of their life.”

It’s one of the reasons Fox Den Salon is one of many across the nation that are taking part in Strands For Trans, an initiative that creates a nationwide network of salons committed to being a safe space for gender-nonconforming and transgender folks to get their hair styled.

Participating salons are marked on an interactive international map and are asked to have a pink-and-blue-striped barber shop pole sticker on their windows.

Dawn says Strands for Trans is one of the many initiatives their salon participates in to promote inclusivity, along with Safe in My Chair and Dresscode Project.

Dawn views these initiatives as simple steps salon administrators can take to make everyone feel welcome.

“There’s really no reason to stay ignorant to being inclusive and building equity,” they said.

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