Small Business Feature: R&R Head Labs

In honor of National Small Business Week, the Colorado Chamber is celebrating Colorado small businesses and recognizing the contributions of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and their employees to our local communities. Learn more about Small Business Week here!

Today’s feature is James Repenning with R&R Head Labs

R&R Head Labs, located in Denver, is a unique business venture making waves by offering more than just a haircut—it’s providing a fresh start for individuals looking to rebuild their lives after incarceration. Founded by James Repenning, R&R Head Labs is not your average barbershop.

James Repenning’s journey into entrepreneurship was driven by a deep desire for purpose. After decades in the corporate world, notably with his family’s recycling company and later in management consulting, he found himself seeking more than profit margins and public goals. His pivot towards social impact started with a simple text message from a movie producer, Scott Budnick, seeking assistance in licensing barbers within the California prison system. This sparked the vision for R&R Head Labs – a business that offers quality haircuts while creating meaningful employment opportunities for those reintegrating into society after incarceration.

“People often assume entrepreneurship is a young person’s game. However, I could not have started R&R even 5 years ago. I didn’t have the experience or network,” said Repenning. “Don’t overlook the value of working in other organizations before starting your own. You may learn many more things you don’t want to do than things you want to emulate, but that’s even more valuable!”

For Repenning, transitioning from established corporate structures to launching a startup came with its own set of challenges. The shift to a small, income-less business meant wearing multiple hats, from operations to vendor management, often meant needing to be scrappy and adaptable. Yet, through perseverance, R&R Head Labs has not only weathered these obstacles but has also achieved remarkable success.

One of the key pillars of R&R Head Labs’ success has been its commitment to hiring exceptional individuals dedicated to personal growth and community impact. Despite initial worries about finding the right people, Repenning and his colleagues have built a team of talented barbers eager to contribute to a larger mission. By showcasing the dedication and resilience of their team members, Repenning hopes to inspire other employers and industries to tap into this overlooked talent pool.

Beyond making their clients look and feel great, R&R Head Labs is on a mission to change perceptions and biases regarding formerly incarcerated people. Through every haircut and every interaction, the team is rewriting narratives. As James Repenning looks towards the future, he envisions expanding this impact nationwide, ensuring that R&R Head Labs becomes a beacon of change in communities across the country.

Learn more about R&R Head Labs here!

 Check out recent news about R&R Head Labs in Axios, CBS and 9 News!

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