Leland Pratt grew up on the South Side of Kalamazoo. He attributes being poor and learning to survive on his own as pace setters for his life. He learned to hustle to make ends meet. He learned to make people laugh to keep laughter erupting in even the darkest of places. Being a teenage father launched him into a life with one purpose; to provide a happy childhood for his kids. Along the way he “fathered” dozens of youth who’s fathers were absent. A nephew, who he took in as his own, unassumingly combined Uncle and Lee, which created his title, UncLee, After years of working minimum wage jobs he landed a job, that most who’s formal education capped at a GED, could not hope to obtain. From an outsider's perspective, he was in his 30s and living “the dream”. However a string of life altering events put his priorities into perspective. He was working for a company who didnt care about him personally, putting in long hours beginning his work days at 4:30am. He survived a divorce, single parented 3 boys, watched a beloved uncle and mother-in-law die early from cancer, gained full custody of his oldest daughter after 16 years of heartbreaking separation, married his best friend, and succeeded in the local comedy scene. His wife and he decided it was more important to create memories with their children than waste years working a meaningless, demeaning job, so in 2014 UncLee quit his job and went to school to become a licensed barber. Cutting hair had been a passion of his since he was 16 years old. In December of 2015 UncLee’s Barber Shop opened at 507 West Vine st in Kalamazoo Michigan.
UncLee’S Barber Shop is more than just a place to get a great haircut. UncLee has a goal of providing the community with a place rooted in love and giving. Anyone can stop by UncLee’s Barber Shop to get a free book from his handmade bookshelf. There is a bowl of free condoms out for anyone. Once a month kids can earn their own haircut by reading a book. There are locally made, all natural, hair and skin care products for sale and walk-ins are welcome. UncLee’s Barber Shop is a safe-zone so anyone from all lifestyles can feel safe going. UncLee has a multicultural, multiracial family and community. He wants anyone old, young, brown, black, grey, white and anything in between to feel welcome. As a customer of UncLee’s Barber Shop you can plan on having a good laugh while getting fresh. If you have the means, you can participate in the Pay-It-Forward program by giving a few extra dollars toward a haircut for a child in need or an adult getting ready for a big life event or a job interview. UncLee is our example of living life to it’s fullest and pulling the community along with him.
He strives to live each day laughing and making people laugh.