By Anna Lothson
The first haircut.
It's one of many firsts parents will snap for the scrapbook, but it's also a moment that may stir tears and create stress for child and parent.
But one local business aficionado thinks his shop can do just the opposite. In fact, throw in a glass of ice cold lemonade and he's hoping he's got the recipe for a successful Oak Park children's hair salon.
River Forest native John Haagenson opened his first store, Lemonmade, Style and Snips for Kids, yesterday, and already is thinking about the franchise he hopes to grow.
Lemonmade, located at 187 N. Marion St. offers a classic, retro feel, designed to make all patrons feel at home.
"I've created a place that's not only joyful for kids, but also for the parents," Haagenson explained. "It's really different than anything else you've experienced."
Most children's salons, he said, showcase a boisterous atmosphere that's equipped with brightly painted walls and energetic music that don't help address the main issue: keeping kids calm.
Instead, this entryway with light yellow walls accents an open floor plan that includes a television inside a blocked off area, shelves of classic wooden toys, and, of course, cups ready to be filled with lemonade.
The salon area is circular and has four chairs that resemble a combo, including a fire truck, a taxi and classic cars. Three other chairs offer a more traditional setting for older kids.
Unlike the circus feel or a toy store vibe, Haagenson aimed for a place that feels like home. There is time, however, for fun and games as a backroom houses a big-screen television equipped for celebrations, such as makeover parties, football parties with hair dying and almost anything a kid can think up.
In front of each station sits an individual television where kids can watch a flick on Netflix or catch up on some PlayStation time. In the middle of the room rests a round couch for those eager parents wanting to watch.
These factors, Haagenson says, makes the salon "refreshingly different."
A family man himself with two kids, he designed the space for a place that's accommodating to kids of any age and a place where parents feel comfortable bringing their children.
Even his mom and sister have been helping with the business side of things, and his children will be seen in pictures throughout the store.
The store's name, which comes from Haagenson's nickname growing up, has transferred to his children, who will be seen often at the store — sometimes referred to as the "little lemons."
His kids, in fact, were part of the inspiration for the business since he was always the dad driving miles to get them a haircut. He didn't want the hassle, and he knew other parents felt similarly.
"I've always been an entrepreneur," said Haagenson, who is also in real estate. "I saw that there was an industry that was growing tremendously, and I thought I could do it better and different."
After talking with others in the community he realized the demand existed in Oak Park. It didn't take long to pick a spot for his new venture.
"I absolutely love this area and couldn't think of a better place to start than this business," he said.