Christopher Kimbrough | Green Bay, WI
I opened my first barber shop in Green Bay in 2016. It’s called Starz Barber and Beauty. I just opened a second shop this year. Before we had to shut down, I already had the keys to the new place. I had just signed the contract and everything. We closed down when the governor gave us the order, which was March 20th. It was tough, but when you’re in business, you’re always wanting to keep a little nest egg to the side. Take care of your bills. But it was tough. I’m glad we opened back up.
My family is pretty close knit—my wife and kids. My youngest is 17 and my oldest is 25. It’s good to have older kids now, because they knew the shop was closed, and that was my source of income. They all had essential jobs. They would get paid and come and say, ‘Hey Dad, how you doing? Was just thinking about you.’ And they would put little cigars in my pocket. That’s one of the things I’ll remember most, is how close my family got during this time. When you’re a businessman, an entrepreneur, you don’t spend too much time at the house. You’re always on the go, always thinking about the next move. So one thing that always will stick out with me during this time, something I’ll be able to tell my grandkids, is that during the world pandemic, our family got closer.
I’m just very blessed. I love the community. I’m always giving back, trying to make sure I do what I can for the kids and parents. That’s just how I was raised. Back when I grew up in the barbershop game, that’s what they did. That’s what barbers are. Barbers are your big brothers, your big sisters.
Starz itself is a very diverse shop. We have barbers from every race, every background, you know? You need to have people in the shop that look like the community. Green Bay is a town where people come from everywhere. We try and do our best to be a pillar in the community, and I think we’re on our way there.
Today, I’m a big advocate for youth in the community. Me and my friend Keisha have talked about doing something positive in the community that would guide youth to a better outcome.
With all the police killings of Black men that are going on, we know for a fact that if something like that was to happen here, Green Bay and Brown County are not prepared for that. So we’re trying to get that unity built. And a lot of people say I’m the perfect person for it, because I’ve actually been on both sides. I’ve been a police officer, so I know what it feels like to be in that field, to be judged.
I wanted young people in the community to meet police officers out of the field, to get to know them as people. And then vice versa—that officer gets to know that kid, or that adult, because they’ve been around this person. They know their character, they know their personality.
We’re trying to get police officers to go back to being community officers. And that’s important, because a lot of times people don’t think of law enforcement as being there to protect and serve. Some people think of them as being an enemy. So we’re trying to change that narrative, man. It’s going to take a joint effort because as law enforcement, you have to respect the community that you work for, that you’re serving.
-Christopher Kimbrough | Green Bay, WI
Christopher’s story is part of Love Wisconsin’s Covid-19 series. Through this series we are featuring shorter stories to offer a time capsule into life in Wisconsin during this extraordinary time.