25 years and holding, despite a pandemic


Heritage Barber and Style Shop has been a staple in the Alabama State University community and the Metro-Montgomery community for 22 years. Started by two Alabama State University alumni, Vladimir Averett and Carlos Vaughn, the shop continues to be a place of gathering from men who desire haircuts and for men who are seeking wisdom.

Camille Zanders, Alumni Connection Editor

The barbershop holds a special place in the black community for black men. It is a place of brotherhood and fellowship that allows for a person to come in needing a haircut and to leave with years of wisdom.
Vladimir “Boo Man” Averett, a 1993 alumnus, works every day to bring that kind of environment, not only to the Alabama State University community but to all people of Montgomery, Ala., with his business Heritage Barber & Style Shop.
Opening in 1995 on Hall Street, Heritage Barber & Style Shop has served countless numbers of people of all walks of life and has treated each person with the same amount of respect and love. Along with the positive atmosphere, Averett’s undeniable skill has established Heritage as the top shop to go to when near the Hornet’s Nest.
Averett originally from Phenix City, Ala., is the son of a barber, the late Melvin Averett. His father played a major role in his development in the trade, teaching him not only how to cut hair, but also the additional traits for a great barber.
“The first thing he taught us was that the one thing a great barber always does is sweep,” he laughs as he says. These lessons conveyed the idea that though cutting hair is a common skill, it is the details that separate the true barbers from amateurs.
Beginning his barbering career when only 13 years old, Averett has been cutting hair ever since. Wanting to make a lasting impact on his community, Averett, along with his dear friend, the late Carlos Vaughn, an alumnus who he met on campus, decided to combine their love for Montgomery, ASU, and barbering to create a long lasting business.
“[Vaughn] was from Montgomery, and he just taught me so much about the city,” Averett said. “We were like brothers.”
In 1995, Heritage Barber & Styles Shop opened, originally located on the corner of Hall Street and University Drive.
“We wanted to employ other young African American men who needed to provide for their families, and we thought that barbering was the best recession-proof business for that.”

The diverse staff at Heritage Barber and Style Shop consists of 11 barbers ranging from ages 18-70. This age range attracts a diverse population to the barbershop on a weekly basis as students, alumni as well as the community hears about the services officered.

Though they began on the corner of University Drive and Hall Street, the university bought the property to build the John L. Buskey Health Sciences Center. As a way to remedy the sudden movement, ASU gave Heritage the opportunity to rent and run their business out of a property on Harris Way for only $1.00 a month.
“They told us to just give them a dollar a month until we could get our own location,” he said. “We stayed there for about 18 months, until we got to where we are now at 1334 Carter Hill Road. We would not be where we are today if ASU had not given us the opportunity and time to build the business. That is why my heart and soul will always be in support of ASU.”
After failing to find an empty standing building, the Heritage team utilized the help of engineer Glenn McCord who encouraged them to buy land and build a structure of their own. Along with building the shop, the team also worked to rezone the property for commercial use rather than residential.
The biggest challenge, for then Averett who was 27 and Vaughn who was 29, was being accepted for a business loan to kickstart the relocation process, but because of the time renting space at the Hornet’s Nest the two were able to pay 20% down on the spot. Averett remembers dealing with this phase of his journey.
“You have to be persistent,” he said. “You have to be all in, and that is what we were. We were on point, working hard, saving every penny and living on the nickels.”
Averett, the Heritage staff, McCord, and the ASU community worked together with the city of Montgomery to bring their dreams into fruition.
Now employing many barbers ranging in age, personalities, and backgrounds, the pair have fulfilled their dreams. Though their diverse staff is their strength, it can also become a challenge as they try to find a common ground between such a wide range of personalities. Considering this is a problem with an easy fix, Averett is grateful that this is the only trouble that he has faced.
“Once you communicate you remember that we are all one staff with one aim, one goal, and one mission,” Averett said. “When you get great young men and great older men you cannot be anything but successful.”
Throughout its years, Heritage Barber & Style Shop has maintained high esteem among the ASU and Montgomery communities. With a nearly perfect 5 star rating, Heritage is the top shop when in need of a haircut in Montgomery.
Adrien Lawhorne, a 2020 graduate of ASU, has been a customer of Heritage since 2008. He shares how prominent the Heritage name is upon the ASU student population.
“I have been sending people here from my freshman year all the way through my senior year and postgraduate time. A lot of people would come up to me saying, ‘Hey man, I need a fresh cut. Who can I go to?’ I have seen a lot of people come in and out of here, and when they come back they always bring another with them.”
“Heritage plays a big role in the ASU community. A lot of people come in here and meet people, make business deals, and just get to know others in the Montgomery area. It is just a good place to learn and talk,” says another loyal customer of thirteen years.
“It is a landmark in Montgomery,” says Howard Cooper, a 1981 graduate of ASU who has been a client of Heritage since its initial opening. He expresses the relationship between the barber shop and the Hornet’s Nest. While showing off the walls full of ASU paraphernalia, he says,
“This is Alabama State’s barbershop. You are not going to see Alabama, you are not going to see Auburn, but you are going to see those Hornets. Cooper vouches that Heritage is a hub where both the ASU and Montgomery communities can come for spirited fellowship. “You know when you come to Heritage you are going to be well taken care of and respected,” Cooper stresses. “We turn this barbershop up with culture.”
Averett is extremely proud of the positive environment and productive business that he has created, but is a strong believer that it would not have been possible without his equally skilled and dedicated staff.
“I might be the owner but I have hired great young men. These are amazing individuals who have taken my ideas and combined them with their own.” he said. “I just like for people to see the kind of great environment that we have. We have eleven guys, from 18 to 70 working together in the community. You do not see that often.” Some barbers that he especially cherishes are Isaiah Pinkston, Kirby Fortenberry, and LeRoy Huffman, also known as “The Godfather” who has been cutting hair for over 50 years.
Isaiah Pinkston, a 1999 ASU alumnus, has been a part of the Heritage family since the very start.
“It is great to see the growth and development of the barber shop compared to its beginning. It shows what hard work, dedication, and motivation can do.”
Over his many years he has also been able to see the appreciative relationship between Heritage and the Hornet community.
“A lot of ASU alumni clientele come in so, especially with us being alumni, the connection is strong … ASU has embraced Heritage, as well as the other way around, so it is almost as if it is just one community.”
Barber and 1996 ASU alumnus, Kirby Fortenberry, has also been there from its initial years. “It has been quite fascinating watching it grow. Compared to where we are now, and where we were back then when we first started, we could not imagine getting this far and being this successful.”
To Fortenberry, Heritage is more than a barbershop, but instead a place of mentorship.
“It gives us the opportunity as a shop to give back to the next generation, to be exposed to the next generation of students,” he said. “Sometimes we stumble on conversations that enlighten students on how you can navigate through the environment that we are in, the life of Hornet Nation, and the history that the ASU community holds.”
Leroy “The Godfather” Huffman was the owner of University Barber & Style Shop, a business located adjacent to the campus that provided Averett his first job as a barber. Though he now works at Heritage, Huffman remembers his time training Averett fondly.
“I have taught and raised about 40 to 50 barbers in this city,” Huffman said. “If I had to have one for a son, [Averett] is the one I would like to have as my boy.”
He claims that Averett is the root of Heritage’s heartened atmosphere, culture, and success.
“[Averett] would train kids, students, and adults that wanted to be barbers, sometimes he would even pay for their tools,” explains Huffman. “That leader mentality is what I had in myself, so when I saw it in him it was like a dream come true.”
Averett, along with the entire Heritage staff, are all also thankful for the relationship that Heritage Barber & Styles Shop has created with the Hornet Nation.
Kenyatte Hassell, who began barbering at Heritage in 2005, attests that their growth would mean nothing without the support of the ASU community.
“It really is great for us being right beside campus, our clientele will steadily grow,” he said. As long as the university is here, we will be here!”
“If it were not for ASU, there would not be a Vladimir. That is how much it means to me.” Thankful for the love and support that ASU has given him, Averett has made sure to give that same love back one haircut at a time.
“The most rewarding thing is when someone comes in having a rough day, and when they leave out they not only have a nice haircut but also their spirit is lifted,” he said. “It is not about money at the end of the day. It is about service.”
Business wise, the Hornet community holds more weight than any average client. “It is just like family.” Averett says, “It is not always perfect, but it is always there.”
Averett, his wife of 25 years Yolanda Averett, daughters Nia and Maya, and the staff of Heritage Barber & Style Shop welcomes and thanks all members of the Hornet Nation for the years of love and support. “We hope that they keep Heritage in their hearts, “The Place Where King and Queens Receive Their Royal Treatment!”