Charlie Jones-Burge opened her beauty salon Get Ready Rooms in 2018 as a side gig in a small space in the North Loop, after operating out of her home.
Then 2020 hit. She closed during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions. Then her 18-year-old son was shot and killed that October.
Oliver Perkins III had graduated from high school and was living in supportive housing at 16th Street and Nicollet Avenue, near Children's Minnesota-Minneapolis. He needed treatment regularly for sickle cell anemia, a congenital disease that plagues about 100,000 people in the U.S., most of them Black.
Perkins was shot three times one night inside a convenience store a few blocks away from his apartment by an unknown assailant. He was talking on the phone to Jones-Burge.
"I heard 'pop, pop, pop' and then he didn't say anything more," she said.
Jones-Burge, 44, has proved perseverant and strong, quitting her human resources day job last spring to concentrate on the Get Ready Business. She reopened the salon as well last year in a warm, bright two-level space at Washington Avenue and W. Broadway north of downtown.
"He was very proud of me," Jones-Burge said of Perkins, her second-oldest child who used to help her with technology and social media.
"I feel like Oliver's spirit is present in this business," she said, gazing at his smiling portrait in a comfortable lounge. "There are things here that speak to him, including his indoor basketball hoop and beanbag chair. It's comforting."
Perkins was a budding, artistic entrepreneur who kept out of trouble, said Jones-Burge. She said she was told by a police officer who works the area that Perkins likely was mistaken for someone else in a tough neighborhood at night.
Minneapolis police Sgt. Garrett Parten said an "open investigation'' of the case continues. He encouraged tipsters to contact CrimeStoppers at 800-222-8477 or CrimeStoppersMN.org.
"He had physical limitations. Life was tough for him physically. Blood transfusions. He couldn't do hard, physical labor," Jones-Burge said. "But he loved technology and cooking, including for his neighbors and friends. And he was good at repairing clothing and shoes and restyling them. He was making a life."
Perkins was a 2019 Thrive Award winner at YMCA Youth and Family Services for "leadership, accomplishment and aspirations." The Y established a $5,000 annual scholarship in his name for "other youth who overcome barriers and achieve their goals."
Stacey Guilfoyle Collier, executive director of Y family services, said Perkins overcame his physical disability and shyness to become a leader of the program, as well as a mentor to younger participants.
"He was an all-star youth who had turned things around and was giving back," she said. "He seemed shy and reserved at first. But … his smile was bright. And graduating [from Loring Nicollet Alternative] high school was so important to Oliver.''
Jones-Burge said Oliver is "dearly missed by me, his dad and siblings."
Jones-Burge, a North Side native and graduate of Patrick Henry High School, has created a space that is charming, well appointed with comfortable furniture, technology and privacy.
Client Sondra Samuels said in an email: "A really classy place for Black and Brown women right here in North Minneapolis. It doesn't get better than that!"
Get Ready has a multicultural clientele, both men and women.
Jones-Burge left a 20-year career as an HR manager to go full time in the beauty business last spring. She's slowly generating more hair, nail and makeup business.
She is making payroll, rent and related expenses but unable yet to pay herself a salary. Raising her other children with her partner, Jones-Burge can stretch a budget, though. And she's encouraged by an uptick in customers in recent months, driven by word of mouth and social media.
She wants to increase the number of contract hairstylists, the nucleus of her business, from four to eight. They pay her rent for a chair. Jones-Burge also is a Columbian-certified post-operative care specialist for women and men who've undergone cosmetic surgery, from tummy tucks to breast augmentation and liposuction.
"Her business looks busier to me," said P. Palanisami, the Twin Cities structural engineer who owns the building. "She pays her rent on time. We've made some building improvements and she keeps her place looking good. It's welcoming.
"She has improved her skill set, her business and I commend her for that," he said.
Jones-Burge, of calm demeanor and ready smile punctuated by tears when discussing Oliver, is determined to build her business in a way that her customers, friends and family will be proud.
"I've always gotten up and just take things one day at a time," she said. "My other children give me strength and motivation."