With ink and inclusivity

‘Prospect Parlor’ flips the stereotype in male-dominated industries


Laynie Clark, Managing & Opinion Editor

Barbershops evoke a nostalgic sense of place, with decor reminiscent of the 1960s and retro memorabilia, but Prospect Parlor is flipping that stereotype. With ink and inclusivity, this barbershop stands out among the rest.

Prospect Parlor is San Antonio’s first all-female barber and tattoo shop, co-owned by couple Jennifer and Jasmine Balderrama. They opened the shop in 2017, where all of their work was based out of Jasmine’s parents’ garage with no windows and a shampoo bowl stuffed in a closet. From garage to grand opening, Prospect Parlor has grown into a full-fledged beauty salon that offers a wide range of services; those services include haircuts, hair colors, lashes, eyebrows, tooth gems and tattoos.

When asked about her background in barbering and the start of her journey, Jennifer introduced the topic of art and how it is the center of her life. 

“I feel like my love for art manifested all of this,” Jennifer said. “It was my love for art; it was my love for creating. I started as an artist just painting on canvases, but that was when I was young. And then I started to get older, and I was like, okay, I need to pay my bills. So how am I going to pay my bills and still stay true to my passion and like integrate both of those?”

Jennifer explains her path to cosmetology and how that played into her vision of paying her bills while still staying true to her love of art. 

“I started dabbling into doing special effects makeup because I was still able to like, create and be creative but charge and make money off of it,” Jennifer said. “So, then I got into makeup and started doing that, did that for a few years, and then I got into doing hair. From there, I did cosmetology school and then did barbering.”

Barbering became Jennifer’s life, so much so that she stumbled upon Jasmine, a client who she quickly fell in love with and is now married to. Jasmine explains the difficulty of watching Jennifer be constantly degraded by men while having to work at their barbershops. 

“I remember when I was in the shop and this one guy said he didn’t want to go with her because she was a female,” Jasmine said. “It was two brothers, so the other brother went with her. She goes and cuts the brother and gives him a clean fade, right? So this guy all of the sudden is like ‘Oh can you get me in?’ and Jen is just like ‘No, I am booked for the day.’ She wasn’t.”

“We’ve just been through a lot,” Jasmine continued. “We’ve been through a lot of just watching her struggle with these guys and [them] not letting her words and ideas be heard. It was frustrating.” 

Together, after being fed-up with nasty men in the male-dominated barbering field, they decided to open up their own shop, though it was not an easy decision.

“It started out with Jen cutting hair in my parents’ garage and figuring out okay what are we going to do,” Jasmine said. “Jen was like ‘I do not want to go back to another barbershop, I do not want somebody to have control over my future anymore.’ I was like okay, well, we’re going to open up our own shop.”

Laynie Clark

While Jasmine and Jennifer were set in making Prospect Parlor women-owned and operated so that women had a safe space to go, they did not want to exclude men from enjoying their services. So, they had to figure out a way to make the shop appealing for both men and women; they accomplished this through decor.

“We’re all about balance here,” Jennifer explained. “We don’t want women to walk in and feel like they’re in a full blown barbershop, but we don’t want men to walk in and feel like they’re sitting in the middle of a salon. We try to keep it gender neutral, so like feminine and soft but with metal and hard lines. We want everybody to feel comfortable in here.”

“Man, our clients loved it,” Jasmine added. “They felt so at home with what we had created.”

While Jennifer was the brains behind the operation, it was noteworthy how foundational Jasmine’s role was in creating the essence of the shop. The salon stations were hand-crafted by Jasmine to resemble an auto-body shop, which helps tie in that masculine feel. 

“Jennifer introduced me to barbering,” Jasmine said. “I struggled back and forth with barbering because I wanted to do mechanics. The place that we are at now, I am able to balance them both.”

While Prospect Parlor has given Jennifer and Jasmine a variety of creative outlets, the fun does not stop there. Jennifer explains the reasoning behind opening a tattoo shop alongside the salon.

“My intention was not to open a full tattoo shop,” Jennifer said, “I was just going to get a little spot so that I could perform and do my makeup and not have to go to two different locations. When we finally moved out of the garage and moved here, I saw the room and was like, ‘Man, I could have a whole tattoo shop.’”

And thus, Prospect Parlor flourished into the hot commodity it is today. With their grand opening on Oct. 2, Jennifer and Jasmine are proud of their journey and where it led them. Their main goal from here on out is to stay true to their vision of creating a safe, healthy environment for their clients and employees. 

Prospect Parlor is located at 3218 Northwestern Dr, San Antonio, TX 78238. They are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and they are closed Sunday through Monday. Walk-ins are accepted. For more information, call (830) 402-8525.