Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Texas Entrepreneur and Prairie View Graduate Inspires Austin Youth to Achieve

By Shannon Prudhomme
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy

Cover of Mittchell's self-published
book. To win an autographed copy,
scroll to the end of this article.

Photo courtesy of R. Mittchell
Most people never refer back to past homework assignments for inspiration, let alone to just review them. However, Ramont Mittchell, owner of Austin-based Supreme Clientele Hair and Massage Studio, referenced an assignment from an old college course and converted it into a successful business.

“A friend and I developed the idea for the business for my engineering economics course while at Prairie View [A&M University],” he said. “I am literally carrying out the exact concept now.”

The project detailed futuristic barbershops that included innovative technology for clients. “My business actually has a café, private TV rooms and Wi-Fi internet for clients,” he said. “People can come on their lunch break and get their hair done.”

In addition to his salon, Mittchell is also an author and fitness trainer. “My philosophy is that everything I can do well, I will turn into a business,” he said. “I am essentially turning myself into a walking portfolio.”

The 35-year-old Detroit native said he committed himself to retiring at this age when he was a teenager - and he did just that! “Last year on my 35th birthday, I submitted my 30-day notice to Dell,” he said. “I figured whatever I was doing for myself at the point, that’s what I would do.”

The young entrepreneur honed his skills perfecting the hairlines of his undergraduate classmates while studying electrical engineering at Prairie View A&M University. “I realized I was good at it and enjoyed it, so I planned to open a barbershop after I graduated.”

After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree, he worked for Fortune 500 companies, including Dell, for three years to secure the capital he needed to fund his business aspirations. In 2006, he secured a facility and worked as the lone barber in the shop. “I started off with one person then, and now I have thirteen employees in 2011,” he said

Mittchell is just as proud and proactive about his charitable work as he is about this business. After recognizing his unique position as a barber and the potential to impact the lives of young males, he decided to use these opportunities to encourage and inspire his clients.

“People talk in salons,” Mittchell said. “I realized I had the opportunity to speak with so many male high school students who come in for haircuts.”

The multi-talented entrepreneur first decided to focus on having constructive dialogue with his clients, and serve as a positive role model. . “I wanted them to see that I own this business, and that I don’t just talk about success – I am success,” he said. “I started asking young black males about school and their favorite subject before discussing the latest basketball game.”  

Mittchell’s commitment to youth stems from his upbringing in a tough Detroit neighborhood. “If you think of the worst neighborhood scenario, that’s where I lived,” he said. “I want to show young people that they can be a success no matter where they come from.”

This philosophy and his desire to change the lives of young people motivated him to launch the Ramont Mittchell Foundation in 2006, which promotes “continuous investment in the development of self” to high school kids through academic, aptitude and attitude awareness. " 

Initially the organization offered free hair cuts and hair styling to high school students throughout the academic year, provided they maintained a certain grade point average. “That was the backbone of the Foundation,” he said. Mittchell also began to host annual school supply drives to provide resources to students in need.

Now, the organization is developing monthly sessions on leadership development, money management, healthy eating and entrepreneurship for high school students. “I try to get it in these young people’s heads that ‘hey, you don’t have to just cash the check – you can write the check’,” he said.

His salon staff and operations also serve as a positive example to his clients. Supreme Clientele’s maintains a strict dress code policy for both staff and clients, and only Rhythm and Blues music is played throughout the day. “I want both a child who is five-years-old and an 80-year-old to feel comfortable in my shop,” he said.

His future plans? “I’m working on two more books and I plan to franchise,” he said. His goal is to become what he refers to as “the Wal-Mart of barber shops.” In essence, he wants to offer clients everything they could possibly need from a personal service with regard to hair and nails.

Mittchell said he also aims to have a sustainable impact in the greater Austin area. “I’m here to support my community for the long haul, and I honestly just want people to remember me as being sincere,” he said. “Everything that I do comes from the right place.”

* CONTEST: Gulf Coast Philanthropy is giving away an autographed copy of Ramont Mittchell’s self-published poetry book, The Collection: Everyday Poems. Everyday People. To qualify, please complete the following steps: 1) Subscribe to our blog; 2) E-mail the Editor with your twitter name; and 3) Tweet our blog handle (@GCPhilanthropy) through Wednesday, June 1st at noon. The subscriber with the most tweets will win!


  1. Dear Readers,

    As of today, @PanamanianDIVA2 on Twitter is in the lead to win Ramont Mittchell's autographed poetry book. Follow @GCPhilanthropy on Twitter and keep tweeting this article or our screen name to win. The deadline is Wednesday!

  2. It's official: The winner of the book giveaway is Houston area reader Kharima S. (@panamaniandiva2 on Twitter). Thanks to all readers who participated!