What's In A Name? Ossama's Becomes Obama's

Mike Elsheikh took over Obama's Hair Design in Chicago earlier this year and renamed it. It used to be called Ossama's Hair Design. Elsheikh says business has improved since the new sign went up. He says he will take the name down only if a request comes straight from the president-elect.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

With Barack Obama's victory, the Obama brand has become attractive to people who market all kinds of things, even hairdos. In downtown Chicago, in an area called the South Loop, there used to be a hair salon called Ossama's. Well, that sign now reads Obama's Hair Design. Mike Elsheikh is the proprietor. He used to work in Ossama's shop as a stylist. When it closed, Mr. Elsheikh leased the property and changed the name. He tells us he licensed the name Obama last year before the election, and he does think Obama is a more marketable name than Ossama.

Mr. MIKE ELSHEIKH (Proprietor, Obama's Hair Design): After what happened to September 11, we're having a little bit of problems with the business and everything, business going down to probably 50 percent, maybe more than that. But a lot of people, they know the location. It was Ossama before. And now it's Obama, so they making a little bit - talking about it and stuff like that.

NORRIS: So now that you're called Obama's Hair Design, do you have any special Obama cuts? Do you do a special Michelle Obama do?

Mr. ELSHEIKH: Well, it's actually very, very similar to what is Miss Michelle wearing her hair right now, and we're styling the hair with a curling iron. We'll make it soft and bouncy and everything like that. The way she wear it, you know, in the whole, you know, in the campaign, it was, her hair was down and beautiful and nice like that.

NORRIS: Have you ever done Michelle Obama's hair?

Mr. ELSHEIKH: No. Honestly, not. Yeah, I wish.

NORRIS: And have you ever met Barack Obama?

Mr. ELSHEIKH: Yeah, actually, I used to live in the Hyde Park, and I met him a couple of times.

NORRIS: Now listen, I'm not trying to make trouble for you, but George Bush was very popular when he was elected. He's much less popular, according to polls, as he's leaving office.

Mr. ELSHEIKH: Right.

NORRIS: So you've named your shop for a president-elect that's quite popular right now. But if things go bad, if he has a rough patch, might that be a problem for you?

Mr. ELSHEIKH: No, actually not. I stick what I please and I never again put the name down. It doesn't matter what. I really like it. But personally, if there's going to have any kind of issue with Mr. Obama, I will it take it down. But it has to come personally from him because I like him.

NORRIS: Well, thanks so much for talking to us. All the best to you.

Mr. ELSHEIKH: Thank you very much.

NORRIS: That was Mike Elsheikh. He's the owner of Obama's Hair Design. That's in the South Loop in the city of Chicago.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.