“I’m a master barber and I specialize in serving the LGBT community,” Khane Kutzwell said.
It’s a community Khane Kutzwell identifies with and has made her career helping.
“They get discriminated against, looked at in funny ways and just scrutinized for the type of haircut they want to get,” she said. “So I’m trying to provide a space where no one has to worry about anything.”
The mission started 10 years ago. After hearing stories from friends, she dropped everything and enrolled in barber school.
“I started in my apartment and over time it has really grown to be a passion because i just don’t like to see people feeling uncomfortable," she explained.
Her company, Camera Ready Kutz, has grown quite the following thanks to word of mouth and social media.
“First it started out just to feel safe and as my skills got better, it was definitely because of the service and the level of professionalism that they would get,” Kutzwell said.
Khane now has space inside the Crown Heights shop, Empire Strikes Back, with her friend Frantz Rodney.
“This shop is special because we make everybody feel welcome no matter what your gender is or your ethnic background,” he described. “Everybody gets the love and whatever negativity that’s out there, when you come in here, you feel secure.”
Whether a repeat client or first time customer, the atmosphere is the same. Khane prides herself on being someone you can open up and talk to, about anything.
“It was a good experience, I really liked it,” a first-time client who did not want to be named, said with a smiled. “It’s so personal to have someone touching your hair and to know that that person really cares about you. It feels safe.”
While Khane mainly serves central Brooklyn, she soon hopes to expand.
“I see myself having a chain of Camera Ready Kutz shops in New York but also in other states where it’s a predominantly LGBT area,” she explained. "But, it’s not only the clients, it’s also the LGBT barbers who need a place where they can feel comfortable working.”
So with a decade of experience, I just had to know what she thought of my do.
“It’s full, you know, there’s not any spaces in there, it’s thick and looks great but I can’t see the back though!" she laughed.
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi