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Iconic South Side Stylist Says She's Done 100,000-Plus Haircuts

By Justin Breen | January 21, 2013 7:08am | Updated on January 21, 2013 8:42am

ENGLEWOOD — In her 50 years as an iconic Englewood stylist, Mozetta Owens estimates she's trimmed, clipped and snipped more than 100,000 heads of hair.

Owens, 78, of Brainerd, has a client list in the thousands. Many of them travel a great distance to use her services in the barbershop her late husband, Joe, founded in 1960 and which she joined in 1963.

The owner of Joe's Style and Mo's Clip has worked with the Who's Who of Chicago's black community, from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. to well-known attorney James Montgomery, to regular folks who just want a clean professional cut, shampoo or shave.

"She's simply revered in the community," said 53-year-old South Loop resident Terry Peterson, chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority Board and a customer of Owens since 1976, when he was a junior at Englewood High School.

Peterson, who pays $15 for the basic haircut every Tuesday and Saturday, said of Owens: "She is family."

The 71-year-old Wright, now retired after serving 36 years as pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, hasn't gone to another barber in two decades. Wright spoke in awe of Owens driving to Philadelphia overnight after Wright's father died in July 2001 to cut his hair and attend the funeral.

"I honor her and respect her," said Wright, who now lives in Tinley Park and drives 35 minutes twice a month for an Owens appointment. "She is a breath of fresh air."

Montgomery, one of President Barack Obama's neighbors in Kenwood and the managing partner of his own law firm, has been going to Owens for 10 years. He said Owens not only gives a good haircut, but is "very easy to talk to and keeps up a nice dialogue on current events."

Clifton Rogers, 66, a CPA in South Holland who lives in Calumet City, echoed Montgomery's sentiments. He's been coming to Owens' shop for a trim four times a year for 47 straight years.

"She has skills that a lot of people don't have," he said.

Owens' shop still has many old-school barbershop relics, from original 1961 Paidar chairs to "Sterile Storage" shelves.

Chatham resident Lenora Green, 62, who's been a routine Owens customer for 15 years, said going into the store is "like you're back in the '60s and '70s, when everybody came into the barbershop and knew everybody."

While Englewood has changed around her shop, Owens has remained steadfast in the building she owns at 6959 S. Halsted St.

"I think it means a lot to the community that we stayed here," the soft-spoken stylist said. "And now I'm on my fourth generation of clients."

That committment has rubbed off, as Owens has three generations of family members working with her. Her son Elando, 51, and grandson Josef, 23, cut hair, while her daughter Jozel, 45, is a nail technician upstairs.

Jozel Owens said her mother continues with a rigorous schedule, with as many as 10 haircuts per day.

"She works harder than anybody," the Englewood resident said. "She's a beast when it comes to that. She is my 'She-ro.'"

But Owens doesn't have plans to retire anytime soon. She's kept her customer base because of "good service, a family-oriented environment and her dedication," her daughter said.

"The best part about all of this," Owens said, "is I love being here."