Honeybee Hair Parlor aims to create a space for all genders

The new hair parlor will open July 5. The owner intends it to be a safe space for all genders.


Katie Goodale

Honeybee Hair Parlor is seen on July 1, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Julia DiGiacomo, Politics Reporter

A new salon in Iowa City has been designed to foster connections and community through the process of hair styling.

Honeybee Hair Parlor, 755 S. Gilbert St., will hold its grand opening on July 5 from 5 to 8 p.m., featuring food, a raffle, and an art showcase.

Honeybee intends to fill a gap in gender-neutral hair styling, because clients will pay the same amount for specific haircuts regardless of gender.

Gender-neutral pricing for hair styling has been a goal of owner JoAnn Larpenter-Sinclair throughout her career, she said. Through her experiences styling for clients who are transgender and nonbinary, she said, she’s understood how unfair it is to change pricing according to a client’s perceived gender identity. Many salons charge different rates to work with men’s or women’s hair.

“Just because two people are getting a short haircut, and one of them is a female and one is a male, it shouldn’t make a difference in terms of how you do the pricing,” she said.

Larpenter-Sinclair aims for her hair parlor to become an inviting environment for socializing in the area. The salon will be set up with a parlor-like atmosphere in which clients getting their hair done can feel comfortable interacting with one another in addition to the stylists, she said. The space takes down the veil of formality among people, she said.

“There’s so many wonderfully eclectic, interesting people in this town who don’t always have the opportunity to interact,” Larpenter-Sinclair said. “One of the things I wanted to encourage was that people really are getting to know each other, and it’s kind of like this one big conversation. I think the clients really appreciate it because they feel like they’re in a safe, comfortable environment where no matter who they are, or how they’re dressed, or what their background is, they feel like it’s the place for them.”

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Honeybee also has aspirations to become a community hub. Larpenter-Sinclair said the salon may host events such as art shows, book readings, hair classes, or musicians in the future.

In terms of the hair styling, she said, the stylists are prepared for both subversive and more traditional haircuts. The staff have experience working with clients from a wide range of backgrounds, she said.

Honeybee stylist Liz Sofranko said some of the stylists, including Larpenter-Sinclair, have experience working with hair for people of color. Sofranko said she personally does a lot of short haircuts, fades, and hair dyeing.

Sofranko has worked with Larpenter Sinclair for about four years, she said, and counts her as a mentor. It was a natural change to join her salon, she said.

“When you walk in the door it’s almost like there’s this living room,” Sofranko said. “It’s like you’re just walking into [Larpenter Sinclair’s] home because she’s put so much love and care into it. We hope people are comfortable here.”

Francis Kuehnle, a client of Larpenter Sinclair for years, said the salon is accommodating to many types of style and hair.

“JoAnn has an incredible way of making people feel comfortable,” Kuehnle said.