Peoria couple opens barber and nail salon despite road bumps in life

The Lobdells are on a path toward entrepreneurship and making up for lost time
One night with bad influence change the course of the Lobdell's future creating a path towards entreprenuership.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 4:29 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - “We actually met at a stoplight on University and Nebraska.”

Kwame and Samantha Lobdell have been married for 10 years, 3 kids later, they are focused on their future growing Leveled Up Barber and Nail Salon, which they say can be therapeutic for their clients.

“It’s more one-on-one time. We can talk about what we need to talk about. We have girl time. We laugh,” begins Samantha who just started doing nails three years ago.

“You sit down for 30-40 minutes and you sitting there talking about ‘I done told this man all my problems,’” says Kwame.

5 years ago, their world changed.

“It was not expected at all. Like I know my husband, I know when he was kind of acting a little different doing some things, he probably shouldn’t have been doing but as a wife, I just continued to pray,” explains Samantha

For the established barber Kwame, one night out on the town put his golden clippers to an immediate halt, “I went into prison for aggravated robbery. It was a bad night. I made a bad choice, and this was my first time ever being arrested, ever being in any type of trouble.”

“It was a major change because he’s always been a great dad, great husband and took care of the family. We never really needed anything, he’s always been a great provider,” says Samantha.

For his wife, Samantha, she says it was her faith that pushed her to step up for their family and marriage, “even with him being gone, I ended up going through a lot of things. I had to readjust my income; it was a struggle a little bit for me. I kept pushing, I kept going. God really carried me through a lot.”

Working in the medical field as a surgeon scheduler, she was placed on furlough during the pandemic and ended up cashing out her 401K to invest in nail school, “everything fell into place and I felt like this is what I was supposed to do the whole time.”

During his 5-year stay, Kwame says he spent his time studying barbering and ended up earning his instructor certification and becoming a role model to the others locked up, “by the time I left I had became an elder in the program and I would mentor the newer inmates that would come in.”

Now working towards getting his previous clients back, he explains how even though prison itself is a dark place, he focused his time on finding the light,

“By me going to prison, it was a bad thing in the beginning, but when I came out, the man that I am in now, it was a blessing because I was able to find myself. Me and my wife are closer. Our kids are closer,” explains Kwame, “I’m doing business a little bit differently. I want to be better because I never want to make that mistake again. I can never put my family in that type of situation again so I have to do everything every single day to make myself a little bit better.”

The husband-and-wife team says working together allows them to make up for the lost time.