Entrepreneur Adrienne Crawford skillfully combines coffee and conversation in her barbershop

By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
Adrienne Crawford in front of Crawford Cuts in Leeds, AL. (Ariel Worthy/The Birmingham Times)

Coffee, cuts, conversation—add the Crawfords, and you have a combination that caters to the needs of the community. Welcome to the Crawford Cuts Barbershop in Leeds.

Adrienne Crawford and her husband, Garrie, opened their barbershop five years ago. Now they have added the Crawford Café, which sells Organo Gold Coffee, an international brand found in 51 countries, as well as lattes, mochas, hot chocolates, and frappes.

“Many people don’t expect to get a [complimentary] cup of coffee while waiting for a haircut. It’s totally different,” said Adrienne, who adds that the café enhances the customer experience of waiting for a barber.

“It makes their day … [and the kids’ too] because I may give them a café drink while they wait. It helps pass the time for [everyone].”

The barbershop also hosts events, such as the upcoming Beauty Fashion Show featuring students from Leeds elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as vendors that will set up booths.

“We’ll have clients also showing off their hair and clothes,” Crawford said about the mid-June event.

Passion for Success

The 42-year-old Crawford, originally from Inglewood, Calif., has lived in the Birmingham area for 10 years and has always been business oriented.

“I got my first job when I was 16 years old, working at [a] supermarket. All I knew was that the district manager said he wanted me on the front end, he wanted me to manage”—at which point she decided to be her own boss.

“I said, ‘I’m out here managing other people’s dreams and businesses. It’s time for me to manage my own.’ I started venturing off and doing my own thing. The experience was good because it made me learn a lot,” she said.

Family Affair

Crawford and her husband have been married for 25 years and have three adult daughters: Kayla, Amya, and Gabrielle. They see themselves opening another shop and giving their current one to their daughters.

“Kayla is a makeup artist, Amya is a nail technician, and Gabrielle does eyelashes,” Crawford said. “I want to let them run it and leave it to them, especially if we expand.”

The family has had four businesses: two barbershops (the other one is Faith Cuts in Irondale), an antique shop in Leeds (now run by another family member), and the Crawford Café. The biggest challenge with all these endeavors is advertising, said Crawford, who is a mentor with Score of Alabama, a group that helps business owners grow and market their businesses.

“You always want to have some type of promotion going on,” she said—like free haircuts for good grades, through which Crawford encourages and rewards Leeds students by providing free haircuts for perfect attendance and good performance in school.

“We do a lot of things different from other barbershops,” she said.

Beyond Business

Crawford’s community involvement goes beyond her many business ventures. She volunteers with the WBRC Fox6 News On Your Side Call to Action team, which helps the television station provide support to and inform the community about various issues, including scams and evictions.

“Whenever someone wants something covered on Fox6 On Your Side, I go out there,” she said.

She also has worked with the Paranormal Association of Cold Cases (PACC), an organization through which forensic scientists solve long-dormant cases. During the group’s investigation at the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark and industrial museum, the Crawford Café was a sponsor.

“[The PACC] goes out and does different studies,” she said. “They were studying cases from the 1800s that had a lot to do with deaths at Sloss Furnaces. When I went through the tunnels with them, we saw old clothing and shoes that had been there for years, things we never thought we’d see.”

Crawford said the PACC call was quite unexpected. A representative of the group reached out to her after looking up nearby cafés and asked her to be part of it.

“I asked, ‘A paranormal group? Are you talking about ghosts?’” she said with a laugh. “I ended up doing investigation with them. [I was afraid at the beginning] because we went into a tunnel with water underneath. It was really old, and I had never been to Sloss Furnaces. It was interesting.”

Her focus remains her businesses.

“My passion was to start a business and be successful,” she said. “Passion caused me to be successful despite roadblocks, … and as an entrepreneur staying focused is key.”