Urban Starzz, a one-stop-shop clothing store, barbershop, spa-style salon and tattoo and piercing area at 515 E. Tremont Avenue, officially opened for business on Thursday, June 5.
The store, which serves as an unofficial community center for the E. Tremont and Third Avenue neighborhood, was the brainchild of April DeSimone, an inspirational Latina and Bronx native who spent her formative years in the blocks around her new store.
DeSimone, who has committed herself to over 10 years of community and non-profit work, started the project as both a means of making a living, and as a way to give back to an area that means so much to her.
“I could have chosen to do this anywhere, but I chose to do it here because both my brother and I are from here,” DeSimone noted. “I can’t say how blessed I feel to be supported and welcome back in the community where I grew up.”
DeSimone, whose brother Lex is a master barber who works at Urban Starzz, considers the new venture to be very much of a family affair.
“Our entire family lives nearby,” DeSimone noted. “The house that I grew up in is the only house that is still standing on E. 178 Street after many burned in the 1970’s or were torn down to make medical space. We want to offer something new to the community, something to bring vitality and unity to the area, as well as create jobs.”
And to also help others. “I believe in making a difference, and proceeds from the store’s sales will go to Shooting Stars, a local charity,” said the local entrepreneur.
DeSimone added that Urban Starrz is more than just a place to get a haircut or a piercing, but a place to gather and meet with friends for personal betterment.
“I want to serve this community in various capacities,” DeSimone continued. “I would love to have a career day, a college day, and offer a place to have seminars. Think about how important it would be to offer this community a seminar about recognizing the importance of a credit score, safe sex, or another significant topic.”
DeSimone, a graduate of New York University, also said she wants to offer a venue for up and coming local talent – barbers, tattoo artists, personal-shoppers and hip-hop performers.
“When John Starks came here, he was really impressed,” Lex said. “We want to show we can do something for the community and get their support. Growing up here shows other people here what they can do with their lives, and I think if you get past all of the obstacles, the Bronx is the best place in the world.”