It all started when Larry Reha’s mother cut his hair. He was 12, and it was a “not-so-great” cut, Reha says, so he tried to fix her work and started cutting his own hair after that. He continued experimenting with scissors throughout high school, took a winding road through cosmetology and today owns Makeshift Union, a salon in downtown Las Vegas.
Tell us your background.
I grew up in a suburb of Detroit. I was a pretty difficult teenager without a lot of prospects or ambitions, so I wasn’t headed in a great direction. I didn’t work hard in school since decent grades came easy to me.
When it came time for me to start thinking about college, my dad was getting concerned. I was turned down from a few schools because I hadn’t done any preparation for college or entrance exams. He suggested that I try cosmetology, as I already had a slight background in it since I was teaching myself all these years. I decided to give it a shot and received a lot of encouragement from of my instructors. About six months into my first school, I was kicked out for repeatedly breaking rules and showing a lack of respect for people. That was a serious wake-up call.
• Address: 1130 S. Casino Center Blvd., Las Vegas
• Phone: 702-527-6318
• Website: makeshiftunion.com
• Hours and days of operation: 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
• Owned/operated by: Larry Reha
• In business since: 2016
I put my head down and ground out the last year of my education. My first job was in a small barbershop, where I learned a valuable skill set in men’s haircutting. In 2002, I moved to Las Vegas. I was hired as an assistant. I was fired from that job twice, which led me to the salon at a higher-end locals casino. In 18 months, my haircuts went from $11 to $90. That was an extreme challenge, considering my skills did not justify that price tag. I was recruited by Cristophe of Beverly Hills to help open his salon in the MGM Grand, where I spent four years. I grew tired of working on the Strip and moved my clientele to Square salon in Summerlin, where I worked for almost 10 years. Each job I’ve had has progressively been better than the last and has continually helped me grow, not only as a stylist but as a businessperson. Which brings me to where I am now, owning my own shop, Makeshift Union, in the heart of the Las Vegas Arts District. It truly is a dream come true.
Describe your business.
Makeshift Union is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s not a huge salon, so there’s a camaraderie in the shop between the stylists; their clients start knowing other clients and it’s almost like a second family. I’m always at the shop — there’s no other place I want to be. That commitment and the vibe at Makeshift Union is what keeps our clients coming back. They are loved there and they love us back. We have a rustic, Americana-style decor that appeals to men and women. It definitely has the feel of a shop in an older metropolitan city.
Who are your clients?
Most of our clients are hardworking people, just like us. But we do have athletes from Las Vegas, musicians, actors, actresses and the like who frequent the shop.
What sets you apart from other salons?
Aesthetically, Las Vegas doesn’t have anything close to Makeshift Union. Our staff is welcoming and, under one roof we have stylists who specialize in so many categories of hair style, cuts, color — and each has their own spin on what they do.
How many stylists work at Makeshift Union and what are some of their specialties?
We have 11 stylists. Our specialties include balayage, color melting, pastels, unicorn color, precision cutting, avant-garde, razor cutting, men’s grooming, facial hair styling and shaping, bridal, blowouts and braids, to name a few. We like to use our Instagram to show off some of the styles that walk out of our door — sometimes that inspires someone to come into the salon, even if it’s for an entirely different reason. Instagram has been a great business tool for us.
What is your business philosophy?
Establishing long-lasting relationships with our clients is the key to our success. We are not trying to be a fad. If at some point, the Arts District isn’t the popular part of town any more, our lights will still be on. Makeshift Union is an institution in the downtown community and grows stronger every day.
What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Never expect gratuity. If you feel that you are owed that tip, it should be reflected by your price. Tips are little treats that people aren’t obligated to give you. They do it because they felt so strongly about your service.
What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas?
We get to help develop the culture of downtown. It being such a young neighborhood, we get to decide the direction it goes, and I love where it’s going. When we picked this building, people thought we were crazy, but since we opened, other businesses have too, and it’s becoming a destination within the downtown landscape. I’m also in a honky tonk band called Rhyolite Sound and this city has been amazing in supporting all my efforts — fans who like the band, find out I have a salon and book appointments, and some of my hair clients who find out about the band then buy our merch and come to our shows.