Barbers and hair stylists in Tennessee are one step closer to cutting hair in their customers’ homes. On Tuesday, a bill to legalize in-home haircuts jumped its first legislative hurdle when it was passed by the Senate Commerce Committee.
Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris, D-Memphis, sponsored the bill. He sees the current rules, that in most cases bar home haircuts, as an inconvenience for customers.
"This bill changes that law and tries to provide a reasonable path for barbers to provide haircuts at the customer’s home," Harris says.
The bill would be a big win in the eyes of one local company, Project Belle, which connects stylists to clients for at-home appointments, similar to Lyft or Uber.
Belle was able to sidestep the law by classifying itself as a technology company and not a salon. But the law still deters hair stylists and manicurists from striking out and building their own mobile beauty business. The company’s CEO, Armand Lauzon says this gives Belle a smaller talent pool to pull from.
"This bill has serious impact on tens of thousands of people and really empowering them to work outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar model," Lauzon says.
Earlier this week, the bill passed through the committee with a unanimous vote. But senator Jim Tracy did have one question.
"Can we get him to come here to plaza to cut Chairman Watson’s hair?"
"That would be in order," Harris chuckled.
Senator Bo Watson was able to laugh it off.
If the General Assembly passes the bill, the state would inspect barbers’ and stylists’ equipment, confirming it’s up to the health and safety requirements.