There are certain times I happen to be in close proximity to a Lady Barber and it has to be the most exciting thing I can experience. Just like @LadyJaeKutz mentioned that when she is given a new pair of clippers, she feels like a little kid, I feel like one as well.
This week was a little different, though, as I didn't only meet Lady Jae, I met her boss, Jhonny, and the shop's promoter. Needless to say, it was a party and I learned so much about this hard working, talented and beautiful Lady Barber. Lady Jae currently works at Street Fame Barbershop where she is flourishing with her new boss who believes in promoting Lady Barbers just like any of his guys 100%. Throughout today's article I will also be including some responses from Jhonny whom I also interviewed because I just couldn't help myself!
HCHH: What inspired you to become a Barber? When did you start?
LadyJaeKutz: I became a licensed Barber in 2002 but I have been cutting since I was 15. Seeing my brothers come home from the barbershop every week with these terrible haircuts drove me nuts so I decided to pick up some clippers and try to emulate what the Barber did - but better.
HCHH: What's your favorite memory that you have from when you would cut your brothers' hair?
LadyJaeKutz: My father didn't know for the longest time that I was cutting their hair! So he would keep giving them money for the haircuts and I told them to keep quiet so we could take the money and spend it on other things. But my youngest brother messed it up for all of us one day and complained to my dad. He was so confused and couldn't believe I had been cutting their hair. I ended up having to do free haircuts after that.
HCHH: Oh man, it's always the young siblings. Well, your brothers didn't mind you cutting their hair, how do guys usually react to you being a Lady Barber?
LadyJaeKutz: I went to Barber school in North Carolina and couldn't even get a job! Nobody would hire a Lady Barber because they said 'women cannot shave, women can't do shape ups' so I decided to move up to New Jersey where my father was and thought it would be a better opportunity. The first job I got was in a mall but then after that I finally landed in an urban shop where it took me over a year to gain steady clientele. They didn't believe in promoting me so I hustled every day to meet new people and give my cards out.
Now most people are surprised when they find out what I do. I usually have to show my Instagram to show them my work before they believe me.
HCHH: So how did you meet Jhonny and come across his shop?
Jhonny: Is it cool if I take this one? Well, I used to get my hair cut by Lady Jae in her previous shop but she wasn't my original Barber. My guy was on vacation one week so I decided to see her after watching her work and how great her personality was - it lit up the shop. We've always had so much respect for each other so it flowed naturally me being in her chair.
HCHH: Did you poach her from the last shop? Did you already have Street Fame?
LadyJaeKutz: Jhonny never poached me because he doesn't believe in going to someone's business and taking their employees. I didn't even know about his shop until someone else told me! He sits in my chair every week and never mentioned it [laughs].
Jhonny: I always wanted Lady Jae in my shop but I would never try to take her from somewhere else. I am so happy she joined the team two months ago though because we're business partners in the shop and friends at the end of the day. She is a huge asset to my shop, her personality brightens it up, and I like the idea that every Barber in my shop brings something different to the table.
HCHH: I need to ask - what's your biggest pet peeve in a barbershop?
LadyJaeKutz: My biggest pet peeve is being rushed! You know when you have a client in the chair and the next one is asking when you'll be finished? I tell them they need to stop that, it's not cool.
HCHH: So when you're not in the shop, do you participate in any events? Anything coming up?
LadyJaeKutz: Yeah! I just went to the expo in Philly this past weekend where I competed in the Freestyle section and placed 3rd! I also saw Sefiroh and Newyorican Queen from the ScissorSalute™ Show, it was great. Also, the shop will be competing in or attending the War of Kings Battle on October 20th. Besides that we're also going to be on the ScissorSalute™ Show very soon so that's exciting as well!
HCHH: That is exciting, I love Sefiroh and Newyorican Queen. You've been in the industry for a while now. What are some of your goals and plans for the future?
LadyJaeKutz: Well I'd love to become a personal Barber to celebrities, travel with them on tour or for different shoots. I've done that before and it was great. I don't want to own a shop just yet, it's a lot of work and I don't want to be held down by one right now. I'd also love to continue entering competitions and battles - I think that there are so many and it's such a great experience.
I'd also love to produce my own line of t-shirts, I think it should be something positive for the Barber community and also something great for women. I'm still working on it but hopefully I'll have those ready soon!
HCHH: And when you're too busy running around being awesome, what's your favorite snack?
LadyJaeKutz: Hmm my favorite snack is definitely cashews! It fills me up. But I also love Boston Baked Beans, I actually have some on me.
Editors note: I had NO idea what those were until Lady Jae graciously showed me them. So if you have no clue either, don't worry!
HCHH: You've only been with Street Fame for a short time but it seems like you've done a lot so far with the shop. Besides competitions, what else does the shop do?
LadyJaeKutz: A lot of community outreach. We all definitely love giving back and everyone comes up with these great ideas. I can't wait to participate in some of them coming up soon, my favorite was during the Puerto Rican Parade in Jersey City though. We had some people waiting 8 hours for a cut! So we had to let them come back the next week and honor our offer. It was crazy.
Jhonny: Yeah, I love the idea of being able to give back, especially since I now have the ability to do it. We gave free cuts like Lady Jae mentioned but we also give 10 turkeys for Thanksgiving and do toy drives around Christmas. My favorite though was for back-to-school, all of the Barbers took their tips and put them towards about 20 new backpacks for kids who needed them.
HCHH: Wow that's amazing, I definitely love hearing about Barbers giving back. Angie, RxBarber, mentioned she believes heavily in that too and it's great knowing people still love being a part of the community that supports them. So tell me, Lady Jae, is there anything else you'd like to add?
LadyJaeKutz: [laughs] I was waiting for you to ask this because I saw it in the other interviews, too. I would just like to say to follow your dream, you can do whatever. I have not had it easy at all and yet everything is starting to fall in to place because I fought for it and I love it. I think I was meant to have clippers in my hand because I have such a love for cutting hair. I'm just so grateful for all of this.
There you have it, ladies and gents. Lady Jae is your classic Barber with a hint of sass and a touch of some serious work ethic. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know her and being able to meet some of her crew. This is what I love to do, I would've never known she struggled so much trying to become the fantastic Barber she is today without this interview and neither would you. So let's take a moment to realize everyone has their struggles but everyone can make it in this industry. Don't forget to always check back Mondays and Thursdays at 11 AM EST!