Uncle Gil’s Cutz hopes to build community in Winona

Gilbert+Jordan+IV%2C+or+more+commonly+known+as+Uncle+Gil+giving+a++haircut+to+Kevin+Suber+in+his+newly+opened+barbershop%2C+called+Uncle+Gil%27s+Cutz%2C+located+located+in+the+Kensington+building+in+Winona%2C+Minn.

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Gilbert Jordan IV, or more commonly known as Uncle Gil giving a haircut to Kevin Suber in his newly opened barbershop, called Uncle Gil’s Cutz, located located in the Kensington building in Winona, Minn.

Kellen Brandt, features reporter

Gilbert Jordan IV, known around town as Gil or Uncle Gil recently opened a barbershop called Uncle Gil’s Cutz located in the Kensington building in Winona, Minn.

Jordan has been cutting hair since he was a teenager and turned his skills into a career by the age of 16.

“I was 15, and my brother was cutting everyone’s hair in the neighborhood, so I took his clippers and started cutting my hair and I didn’t do too bad on the first time, so I continued to do it,” Jordan said.

Jordan’s mom noticed his skill for cutting hair and had Jordan cut his younger brother’s hair as well.

“He was getting compliments at school and his friends started wanting to get haircuts from me too,” Jordan said.

At the age of 16, Jordan worked for his GED, then went to barber school and received his barber’s license. Jordan cut hair for his neighborhood before opening his first barbershop in Rochester and a month ago, his second shop in Winona.

Jordan’s initial dream was to play professional basketball after growing up in Chicago and moving around for school and basketball experiences.

“My dream was to play basketball, I was a playground legend all around Chicago,” Jordan said.

The name of the shop comes from Jordan being called “uncle” on and off the basketball court and his respect for the title “uncle.”

“When you put that label on yourself, that’s how you have to carry it,” Jordan said. “I think uncles are a real important part of the family.”

While Jordan was traveling for basketball, he also cut hair including VIP’s and the Chicago Bears.

Jordan settled in Rochester, opening a shop as well as servicing a contract with Winona State, including doing cuts in a locker room for athletes.

COVID-19 brought an end to Jordan’s contract with Winona State, Jordan found an opening in the Kensington building on 3rd St. and decided to open up shop. Jordan said there was a need in the Winona community left unserved.

“A lot of people from Winona were coming to Rochester for haircuts,” Jordan said.

When the COVID pandemic started, Jordan’s contract with Winona State was canceled. Jordan found the empty space in the Kensington building and Jordan knew there was a need for a barber in Winona.

A community member, Kari Marie, said she would bring her children to La Crosse or Rochester for a haircut. She shared her excitement for the new business and her children’s experience.

“My children received haircuts and they liked them a lot,” Marie said. “They can’t wait to go back.”

Aside from the location, many community members are appreciative that Uncle Gil’s Cutz focuses on African American hairstyles.

“Uncle Gil’s is the first and only shop that specializes in African American hair care in the area,” Marie said. “I am so happy for this community to have a place where people of all races can go and get a haircut from a professional, who is not only good at what he does but also offers haircare products for the upkeep of African American hair.”

Jordan said he was appreciative of the community support but wanted to address his stance on his barbershop.

“First off, I am Black but that is not my whole perspective of things,” Jordan said. “The barbershop is something for everyone and I just love to unite everybody, because that’s what barbershops were growing up. They were a place where everybody could be together and kind of understand each other.”

Jordan expressed his want for his barbershop to be a place for everyone and a place he can be there for anyone who just needs a haircut.

Community member, Sammy Góndola, received a haircut and beard trim from Uncle Gil’s Cutz and was impressed by the work of Jordan.

“I could tell right away that Gil takes customer service and his craft very seriously,” Góndola said. “I appreciated how personable and meticulous he is, and always making sure the cut was just right. He did a superb job with my fade and also shaped my facial hair in a way that I’ve never had done before and I really like how it turned out.”

Jordan focuses on shorter hair and haircuts and said he “calls the professional”, his wife, when people inquire about longer hairstyles.

Jordan also carries products including beard oil and a pomade he formulated himself.

Jordan spent approximately 15 years working on perfecting the products before sending them off to a chemist to put them together for production.

“I wanted to make the products how I wanted it, so I created it and did the mixing and stirring, the dirty work,” Jordan said.

The Winona community has been showing Jordan their support of his business by posting on social media and welcoming Jordan, his shop and products into the community with open arms.

“I wish Gil the best and I really hope his business thrives in our community,” Góndola said.

Jordan enjoys engaging with the communities he lives and works in and making his shop a place for the community. Jordan also has plans to run food drives out of his barbershop and kitchen space next door until he can start up his new restaurant.

Jordan works with a company out of Minneapolis to help donate fresh food to the community of Winona.

“I have so many resources and I’m really here for the community so I plan on doing a lot of stuff where I can help to unite people because that’s what I come from,” Jordan said. “Growing up in Chicago but also moving to Arkansas, and Minnesota I saw a lot of different perspectives on a lot of things and how to be a community.”

Aside from the budding barbershop, Jordan has plans to open a restaurant next to the current barbershop focusing on Chicago-style sandwiches and milkshakes to start and expanding from there.

Jordan hopes for the dining space to be an area where students can come to eat and study or just have a place they can hang out with people and not have to drink.

“Since I’ve been here it’s been amazing,” Jordan said. “I love the community and I’m just thankful to be in Winona right now.