President Barack Obama's second inauguration quickly approaches on Monday, Jan. 21, and some of the region's hairstylists, manicurists and barbers noted a difference between this inauguration and his first in 2009. It appears the demand isn't there for Obama-inspired hairstyles or nail art in 2013.
During November's general elections, however, the Internet featured scores of people sporting Presidential Election-Themed Nail Art – either Obama – or Mitt Romney inspired. Some featured the candidates' faces, others showed the Democratic Donkey or the Republican Elephant. Notably were nail-art images of President Obama worn by singer Katy Perry and rapper Eve.
Tram Bui of Hi Super Nails, a full-service nail salon in Wheaton, Md., said that during elections, she had requests for "crazy designs."
"One lady working the polls asked for a full Obama nail set to show her support for the president," said Bui, 25. "If they want it for the inauguration, I can do it."
However, barber Dannon Cook of Like That Barbershop on Good Hope Road in Southeast, said not many men in his Ward 8 neighborhood have asked for Obama-inspired cuts since 2009.
"The novelty has worn off," said Cook, 40. "People are more interested in the work as he gets to flex his muscles a little. They're saying, fix the economy."
Reggie Robinson, owner of Mr. Natural's Afro Style Shop on Benning Road in Northeast, agreed.
"When he first got into office, more men would ask for his clean-cut style," said Robinson, who's in his 60s. Another barber using the name, Master Lee, said Obama's style is easy, although not everyone will "shape up" the same.
"We're not hearing men ask yet," said Lee, 48, who works with Robinson. "But if they do, I can do his ... a regular, even haircut."
This demand shortage for Obama-inspired cuts and nail art marks a sea change from 2009, when the country's first African-American president inspired the imagination of entrepreneurs who used Obama's image or name on every imaginable gadget and garment. Beauticians and barbers benefited too because of the numbers of requests for president-inspired hair or nails. The family wasn't off limits either as first lady Michelle Obama and daughters, Malia and Sasha, were featured.
Although men aren't asking for Obama's cut, women are requesting hair weaves inspired by the first lady. However, this is yearlong, not just for inauguration, said DeJuan Burns, 42, a cosmetologist specializing in hair extensions.
"I might get one woman per week looking specifically for a Michelle Obama weave," said Burns, owner of Essentials Soul'on LLC in Temple Hills, Md.
Kim Eason of Abada Hair Studio, also in Temple Hills, said Obama weaves are roller wrapped, sewn and blown out, which gives the hair extra body.
"It's gorgeous," said Eason, 27, a stylist at Abada for six months, who added she's received requests this year.
Beyond hair and nails, Barbara Baylor of Ms. B's Boutique, said for 2013, she's made and sold three purses, six pairs of earrings and two jeans skirts – all Obama-inspired.
"I do them by hand so they're a little slow to make," said Baylor, 50, whose business is on the second floor above A Fresh Look Salon on H Street in Northeast.
On Friday, Jan. 11, dozens of people showed heightened interest in scoring Obama memorabilia at the opening of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee's official store at 1155 F St., NW. Customers scooped up buttons and other presidential commemoratives. One resident from Upper Marlboro, Md., traveled miles to peruse the new store.
"I'm hoping to buy Obama stuff for those friends who couldn't make it this time," said Deltha Cousar-Jeffries, 57, who sported a "AKAs for Obama" sweat shirt.
This year, she volunteered to work during inauguration because she was stuck for two hours in the Third Street tunnel under the Capitol Grounds during the 2009 inauguration. It was later dubbed the "Purple Tunnel of Doom." This year's committee is trying to prevent a repeat. District officials expect about 800,000 at Obama's swearing-in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol – a far cry from the nearly two million who attended the first.
Festivities at the inaugural store's opening featured members of Ballou Senior High School's Majestic Marching Knights, which will perform in the inaugural parade on Jan. 21; and Abe Lincoln, the Washington Nationals' racing mascot, who greeted passersby.
"All the proceeds from the store will go toward inaugural festivities," said Cameron French, a spokesperson for the inaugural committee, who added the store will close Thursday, Jan. 24.
"The online store may remain open for a period thereafter but no official close date has been announced."