‘Vibes for sale’: Fort Wayne barber Sasha Chaney discusses opening her own barbershop

On St. Joe Road, across from Shoaff Park, you’ll find a mural of Beyonce on the side of a building.

Inside, the “upbeat, positive vibes” of Sasha Fierce herself enchant the barbershop of Sasha Chaney of Fort Wayne.

After cutting hair for seven years, Chaney felt ready for a new challenge and desired to pass down her knowledge to newer barbers. This led her to opening Legendary Barber Lounge, and doing it during the pandemic wasn’t easy.
Sasha Chaney, Master Barber and Owner of Legendary Barber Lounge works on giving fellow barber Marcus Chezem a high ball fade with a beard edge up.
But with some persistence and some assistance from the Fortitude Fund, she has been able to create a barbershop environment unlike anything else in Fort Wayne. 

“Sasha is a true testament to the spirit of fortitude by the way she overcame unimaginable adversity,” says Andie Hines, former Regional Director of Entrepreneurship for the Fortitude Fund. 

During the depths of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Chaney was awarded a total of $3,000 in grants from the Fund, which includes business mentorship and support. Hines says that, in many ways, Chaney’s persistence in life and business, as well as a her unique barbershop concept, which combines old school techniques with new styles and services, inspired the Fund’s decision to support her. In eight years, she’s grown her business to more than 600 clients.

“She pulled herself out of circumstances that would have left most people feeling permanently defeated and became not only a leader in her industry, but also founder of a gorgeous barbershop that offers clients a different experience from anywhere else in the region,” Hines says. “Sasha is not only a talented barber and musician, but also a genuinely kind and humble soul.”
Inside Legendary Barber Lounge at 6648 St Joe Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46835.
Input Fort Wayne spoke to Chaney about her experience becoming a barber and opening her own shop in Fort Wayne.

IFW: What inspired you to become a barber?

SC: I have been a barber since 2012 and working in barbershops since 2013. Honestly, barbering found me. I thought I wanted to be a nurse, so I became a CNA in hopes of learning all areas of that field. I ended up doing that for five years until I accidentally started cutting hair. 
 
I was cutting hair in my home for fun, no intentions on becoming a barber whatsoever. Then I started to love it and spend all of my free time doing it, and I got really good at it. I started to ask my personal barber about the barber life, and I became very fascinated with the lifestyle of it, so I decided to leave regular college to become a barber. 
 
It was super inspiring to me to see barbers come to work and do what they loved while listening to music they loved and getting to laugh and joke amongst their peers and clients. The barbershop is the epicenter of the community. Now, I am the epicenter. 

IFW: Tell us more about your business.

SC: Legendary Barber Lounge is a vibrant barbershop. We offer elite grooming services and a positive atmosphere for both men and women looking to get a haircut. We are barbers who offer services such as: facials, hair color, braids, fades, and hot towel shaves. We have vibes for sale! I would describe Legendary’s atmosphere as upbeat, positive, and welcoming. 
 
I am also a DJ, so I make sure I create positive, energetic vibes for everyone who is in the shop. All the barbers are kind and friendly. We also have a super dope tattoo artist working with us in Legendary’s basement named Leila Wilcox (Black Rose Gallery).
Sasha Chaney, Master Barber and Owner of Legendary Barber Lounge works on giving fellow barber Marcus Chezem a high ball fade with a beard edge up.
IFW: Why did you decide to open your own business?

SC: I decided to open Legendary Barber Lounge because I felt like it was time to take the next step in my career and try something new and challenging in my life. In 2019, I felt like I had mastered the skill of building clientele, so my next goal was to share that with new barbers in the industry and hopefully help them gain clientele, so they could be successful in this business. Another great reason was to create the barbershop I wanted my current and new clients to be in. 

IFW: What was it like to open a barbershop in Fort Wayne?

SC: I found the location we are currently in now in September 2019. I ran into a lot of issues in the beginning. I didn’t officially get to open until May of 2020. It was very hard trying to open a new barbershop during the start of the pandemic. The quarantine alone set me back two or three months. 
 
The barber community is really competitive here in Fort Wayne, too. There are so many new barbers and barber shops open in Fort Wayne. I’d say there is a lot of friendly competition. It has taken me a whole year to attract walk-ins on a consistent basis at the shop. 
Inside Legendary Barber Lounge at 6648 St Joe Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46835.
IFW: You mentioned passing along your knowledge to newer barbers. How do you do that?

SC: I mentor barbers. The barbers who are working with me are still young and fresh. I definitely do my best to help them grow. I teach them pro tips and try to lead by example. There have been two barbers rocking with me since I first opened and already in a year's time I have seen them (and their clientele) grow. It’s so rewarding. I just want to teach barbers what I have learned and help them make lots of dollars. 

Currently, we have barbers Mac, Mr. Fades and Braids, and our newest addition Polo Fades.
Sasha Chaney, Master Barber and Owner of Legendary Barber Lounge works on giving fellow barber Marcus Chezem a high ball fade with a beard edge up.
IFW: What are your goals for Legendary Barber Lounge?

SC: My goal is to expand, of course. I would like to open a central location, one further West and further North. My everyday goal for Legendary is to help the barbers stay motivated and never forget that the possibilities are endless in our profession. I am always pushing the limits in our industry.

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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne’s Assistant Editor. She previously worked for Northeast Indiana Public Radio and participated in the College Input Program.