How boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. created a Dover hair salon dream
New business to open at 32 W. Loockerman St. in early November
Dover native and entrepreneur Donnell Fears said his journey to owning a barbershop downtown started eight years ago when he had a chance encounter with professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.
While on vacation in Las Vegas, Fears connected with a friend who knew someone in Mayweather’s circle.
“So, [my friend] said they were all going out to a party one night and they might need haircuts,” Fears recalled.
The friend knew Fears was a barber and made the introduction. Since Fears had left all his haircutting tools in Delaware, he said, “I ran to Walmart and spent money on some cheap utensils and clippers just so I could take the opportunity to be close to Mayweather and [his team, known as] ‘The Money Team.’”
It was during a conversation with Mayweather that the seed was planted. “He had a talk with me, and he told me, or he asked me, ‘what were my plans for the future?’” Fears said. “And I told him that I had other interests in becoming successful, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.”
“[Mayweather] said, ‘that’s great because you couldn’t become a barber and stand behind a chair for the rest of your life.’” The boxer and promoter told Fears to consider owning his own shop.
From that moment, Fears has stayed in touch with Mayweather, who he said has inspired him to keep working toward owning a barbershop. “It kind of put the battery in my back to become a young Black businessman,” he said.
Now inching its way toward reality, the barbershop, called “Donnell's: The Salon for Men and Women,” is set to open in early November at 32 W. Loockerman Street, Suite 109.
“I want the community and the public to get ready for something new, something exciting, something tasteful,” Fears said.
Since it will be replacing a barbershop that has closed down during the pandemic, the new business will prevent another downtown vacancy, an ongoing challenge in Dover, Tina Bradbury, operations manager of the Downtown Dover Partnership, said the nonprofit will be working with Fears as he develops his business.
“We are here to support all the businesses,” Bradbury said. “Downtown Dover works with all the businesses for recruitment and retention.”
Beyond offering a variety of beauty and hair services for both men and women, Fears hopes that his barbershop inspires hope in others. “It’s offering people a belief in change because of the broken background and experience I’ve been through,” he said.
The 43-year-old said he has been on the “straight and narrow” for more than 15 years now, but he used to be known around the streets of Dover as a cocaine dealer. He was arrested in 2000 and when he was released from prison 2003, he worked to restore his relationship with the community.
Since then, he has started an event promotions business focusing on sports and entertainment and worked with the Dover Police Department on youth and community events. He is now working with the Food Bank of Delaware to organize a Thanksgiving food drive.
On Sept. 25, the state granted Fears a pardon of his criminal record. He said he views opening the hair salon as his next challenge.
“I’ve faced so much adversity and betrayal,” Fears said. “I’ve conquered that, and now I’m up against another [fight,] which is the COVID-19 economic depression.”
To learn more about the salon or career opportunities, contact Fears at firstname.lastname@example.org.