“I’m a Saginaw guy, born and raised. Graduated from Arthur Hill in 1980. Spent two years at Delta, was accepted at Jackson State University, then went back to SVSU to get my Masters in Organizational Leadership and Administration.
I worked 10 years as a district court probation officer in the City and then became a mental health administrator for Saginaw County Mental Health. Eventually, I retired from Saginaw County Mental Health after 20 years at the age of 55.
About a month before I retired, I walked into this building to buy a hat. The woman who owned the store told me she was looking to sell. So I put all my other post-retirement plans away because I saw something that I could do here that would actually benefit my city, my community, and the neighborhood I grew up in. My mom still lives right down the street, you know?
I thought about her store closing and the clothes people couldn’t get. Then the barbershop idea popped into my head. So we shut the store down, put in the shop, and started looking for barbers.
I wanted to provide an opportunity for young barbers here in this city, just starting out in the game. You know, they’re young, they’re hungry, very talented barbers.
The barbershop is in the front, the clothes are in the back. We call it “grab and go urban wear.” So you can come in and get a cut, grab some clothes, and go.
When I started to formulate this idea, I heard all the time, “Man, I don’t see what you’re trying to do here.” But moving down the road, it became clearer to everybody.
I wanted to sell more than haircuts and clothes. All these sports pictures on the walls? These are all local guys. Everybody on these walls is from Saginaw. They went to Saginaw schools, lived in our neighborhoods. When kids come in, it starts a conversation that shows them all the talented people that have come out of this city. They grew up in the neighborhoods our kids are growing up in now, and that with hard work, focus, and determination, that kind of success is possible.
In the back, I’m collecting pictures of people who aren’t in sports but are excelling in their professions. Lawyers, judges, entrepreneurs, entertainers, trade workers.
Hard work, determination, and a plan breeds success. When kids come in here and see these individuals on the wall, an ideal gets planted. They can say, ‘I can be a doctor. I can be that CEO. I can be the owner of a successful business.’
We’re selling more than haircuts and clothes – maybe we’re selling dreams.”
– Greg Carter, owner of
“A long time ago, in 1933, I was born in Tokyo, Japan. I told you the year I was born because that means I experienced World War II. I was a little girl, but I watched. There was no television, no computer, just radio, and the city was all taken over by the military.
I was in fifth grade when the bombing of Tokyo happened. They knew it was going to be bad, I guess, we were warned, and the Empress ordered us to evacuate all the elementary school children. I had to leave for about one year. About a year later the war was over. I came back to Odawara because my family moved while I was gone. Odawara was my mother’s hometown and that’s where the rest of my education was done.
After my schooling, I applied for a job in the American Army because I had to work. My parents died when I was really young but I liked to study English in school. So, I applied, had an interview and I was hired. I was working in the United States Petroleum Depot Headquarters. I was stationed as the Secretary to Captain Ash at the Quality Control Department.
I was very young and I’m sure a lot of the things I did were inadequate, but they were very kind. I did have an awful time on the telephone because I never talked to Americans before, but it only took about one year and I was comfortable.
My husband, meanwhile, was brought up in Saginaw and graduated law school. As soon as he graduated, he was drafted. He was sent to Japan and came to our building. We met and got to know each other. He proposed and brought me here to Saginaw in October 1957. I have been in Saginaw since then. I’ve never lived in any other place, besides Japan. Saginaw is my only home here in the States.
After World War II, President Eisenhower said he’d seen enough destruction and misery through the war. That we should never have war in this world, and in order to do that we have to understand each other, get to know each other, then we can prevent war.
He came up with the Sister City and People to People program. Communication directly, from people all over this country to people all over that country without going through the government. The whole world, and people everywhere would want the same thing because all people are human beings.
I think if you don’t understand, you will have fear. Thinking “What are they doing? Why do they do that?” But, if you understand why, and understand what kind of thinking they have, you could create better relations and that’s much better than war.
President Eisenhower said, I’m a five star General, and I want to tell the people that I want peace. So he says, I would like to be remembered as a man of peace, not the five star general.
The People to People and Sister City programs laid the foundation for the garden and the tea house and still exist today.”
– Paul Barrera, Sr., Co-owner