For Edmund Washington, being an entrepreneur is a dream come true. “I got a late start to it, but I always wanted to own my own business,” says Edmund, owner of two locations of the franchise, No Grease, a men’s luxury barbershop, in the Greater Charlotte area of North Carolina.
Becoming an entrepreneur was inevitable for Edmund. “The entrepreneurial bug runs in the family,” he says. “My great grandmother actually owned a hair salon and a restaurant—and she even started a church.” Edmund caught the “bug” and wrote his first business plan for his first No Grease location, currently located in Northlake Mall.
Edmund’s Northlake location opened in 2020, but like many other client-facing services, was forced to close its doors temporarily due to the pandemic. Despite the setback, that location generated enough of a profit through online retail sales to give him the momentum to pursue opening a second location. “That’s ultimately how I came to Partner Community Capital (PCAP),” he says.
On the heels of his initial success, Edmund sought capital from a national bank. “I had good personal credit and good credit from the business, and I had the collateral, but the loan officer I was talking to denied me over the phone,” he says. “They didn’t even look at my application.” However, the rejection was not enough to keep Edmund from pursuing his dream. He took his business plan and application to PCAP, who works in partnership with CornerSquare Community Capital, and secured the funds to open his second No Grease location under Razored Ventures, LLC, at the Charlotte Premium Outlets, which opened in 2021.
“PCAP and CornerSquare believed in me and what I could accomplish,” says Edmund. “In the middle of a pandemic, when so many places are closing, I’m in the position to expand and elevate the business.”
The No Grease brand is still new to franchising, and Edmund is the first franchisee who is not a barber. When he was looking to invest, Edmund says that No Grease’s model really spoke to him, and he has taken their mission to “develop people, who develop families, who develop communities” to heart. “Their model really spoke to me,” he says. “It’s African American men, people who look like me, doing business at the highest level.”
Edmund makes it a point to identify his lead barbers, showing them how to manage the day-to-day of running a business. “I give them a 10 percent equity in the business, and the idea is to provide them operational experience, develop them into entrepreneurs, and put them on a path to ownership. They keep the money they make as a barber, and the additional profits every quarter are theirs to develop.”
He also incorporates specialty products from other small business owners—local vendors and artisans—and offers exclusive services with those products. However, Edmund does not stop there. At his second location at the Charlotte Premium Outlets, he allocated space for another entrepreneur, Sheena Pickett, to provide No Grease clients with manicures and other nail services through her business Alpha Male Nail Care. “I believe in Sheena’s vision and I’m looking forward to collaborating with her on more projects,” he says.
Edmund’s entrepreneurial endeavors have challenged him, but the rewards are worth it. “Owning a business is like the law of attraction—you start attracting more business owners and creatives in your network and build really gratifying relationships,” he says. “And through all of it, I get to build independent wealth that I can pass on to my son.”
CornerSquare Community Capital is a subsidiary of the NC Rural Center and is made possible by the generous support of the Truist Foundation and the Truist Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund created by Truist and administered by the Winston-Salem Foundation.