After immigrating to Canada from Lebanon in 2012, Mohamad Abbas had his sights set on a future in barbering. While working three jobs, Abbas saved as much money as he could with plans to open up a barber shop of his own.
On June 12, 2014, Abbas and his wife, Amany Mokkadem, opened up Mohamad’s Barber Shop in Cambridge, Ontario.
The success of their flagship location enabled them to quickly branch out to Kitchener and now Waterloo. Their newest location celebrated their grand opening in November 2022.
“I was born a barber,” Abbas said.
“I have been cutting hair since I was around thirteen, let’s say. My dad had a shop in Lebanon where I learned how to be a barber,” he said.
Mohamad’s Barber shop proudly serves as a connection point for people of all walks of life. Stories filled with candor can be heard around their barber chairs as customers come in and out. They leave with fresh fades or new dye jobs, ready to face important job interviews and milestone events.
Mohamad’s Barber Shop strives to offer high-quality, specialized services at mid-range prices to remain true to their original standards of access.
Abbas and Mokkadem have adopted a philosophy of humility and kindness to others and continue to spread the love and passion they’ve always put into their work with new people everyday.
“Be humble. We like to give back through our barbershops. The best reward we can get as Muslims is achieved by working together.
At their humble beginnings, the husband-and-wife team faced criticism from fellow barbers and peers, being told that no one would come to their shop because of its name.
Despite the opinions of their peers, these two entrepreneurs went against the grain. Together they endeavored to unite a largely segregated industry.
Bridging the gap between employee and employer involves paying employees fairly. While staying true to their standards of accessibility
for clients, Mohamad’s Barber Shop demonstrates equanimity for employees.
“Most of our barbers are commission. If we pay them well, they will stay. If it takes one of my barbers forty-five minutes to do a skin-fade, they can expect to earn twenty dollars for the hour that they worked,” Abbas said.
“Even with that, our prices are still in the mid-range when you look at other barbershops. We are not boujie. I want my employees to be the boujie ones!”
On top of typical challenges faced by entrepreneurs when starting a business, BIPOC owned businesses deal with a special set of issues.
In a post-911 political landscape, Muslim business owners experienced an uptick off xenophobic attacks.
Mokkadem said the shop had a Nazi symbol drawn on their window and, at a separate occasion, a rock thrown through their window.
“It’s not like everything was all butterflies and rainbows along the way. We did encounter a lot of bad things,” Mokkadem said. “It is not easy, but that does not discourage us. Actually, this is a way that we can prove to the world—even in the smallest way—that we can be good to each other.”
Mohamad’s barber shop celebrates its diversity, providing an inclusive space for employees and customers.
They are passion-driven, community-oriented business who support local youth soccer leagues and regularly collect donations for their Mosque.
“I am very proud of my culture. I am really proud of my religion. I am really proud of my [skin] colour. That’s why I named the business ‘Mohamad’s Barber Shop.’ I decided to call it that to show people who we are.” Abbas said.