Chicagolicious Boss AJ Johnson Talks Suits & Self-Improvement
Chicagolicious is coming to Style June 11, and we can't wait! To get ready for the big premiere, we sat down for a chat with salon owner AJ Johnson, who filled us in on his own sense of style and his road to success.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a perfectionist. I am also very charismatic and charming, but very caring. If I'm hard on you or give you some advice, it's to better yourself. I am very happy with who I am and the person I've grown to be. If I could find a way to package it up and put it in a bottle, like that juice on Space Jam, I would be a billionaire.
Who is your style icon?
Tom Ford and Kanye West, hands down. Those two are the next-best to me. I'm sure when I get to the point where they are, I will probably shut them down. No one raises the bar like they do, though. They really give me a run for my money, and I have impeccable taste. You can walk into my closet, and it's the bomb, and that's from the underwear to the socks. I don't play. I also love Gucci, Tom Ford or DG suits; they work well for my body. I love wearing suits. I was made for wearing a suit.
Tell us a little bit about the show.
The show is very funny. I am comedic. I am also very opinionated and always tell people what I think—even when it's unsolicited. I am a caretaker, and I make sure to take care of my entire team. I am also their enhancer; I am going to bring the best out of them. I'm going to make sure each one of them is the best they can be.
How do you balance the interests of everyone who works in the salon?
There is a lot of me to go around, and there's things I have to do for one that I don't have to do for others. No one is ever going to feel shortchanged, and no one is ever going to feel like they can be replaced. If you're with me, you're important and you bring something to the table. If you aren't bringing something to the table, then things will get hard for you, because I am very quick to eliminate people. If you aren't doing anything, if you aren't being productive or trying to enhance yourself and better your life, then you don't need to be around me.
What is the most rewarding thing about running a salon?
I get to see beautiful women every day, and I get to enhance their lives and their looks. I love that.
When did you know you had made it?
I knew I had made it when all the celebrities were coming to Chicago, and they were all looking for me. That's everyone from supermodel Iman—who I loved as a child, I thought she was amazing—all the way to Angela Bassett. It's a pretty wide range of people who seek me out.
I actually really love what I do. When I show up to work, it's not work for me. I would do this for free. However, I am glad it's very lucrative for me, and I have a lot of good things for that reason. So this is the best job I could ever imagine doing. I can't see myself being anything else. I love my life; there isn't one thing I would change in it. Sometimes I feel the success should have come a little sooner, but everything happens when it should happen. I believe whatever I'm doing is what I should be doing at this time, and I have no regrets.
Be sure to catch the premiere of Chicagolicious Monday, June 11, at 9/8c, only on Style!