EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) — Getting a haircut can be quite the ordeal. Uneven lengths and awkward-looking cuts are just some of the mishaps anyone can end up dealing with. For LGBTQ+ individuals, though, concerns go beyond just hair.

Diana Tosca, 26, was eagerly waiting for their appointment at Hairrari in the East Village Thursday afternoon. It was their first time at the barbershop, which was highly recommended online. 

Tosca said that more than the quality of services, it was important for them to go somewhere where they are understood. With their wife being transgender, as well, Tosca said a trip to a stylist isn’t just for cosmetic reasons.

“Sometimes, I find it hard to feel like I can be fully myself and speak about me and my wife’s experiences without people assuming things,” Tosca told PIX11 News. “I want to be able to be my full self in a space.”

Clients also said it was important for them to find a place where they feel belongingness.

“Most places don’t charge by short versus long hair. They charge by men’s cut or women’s cut,” Josh Jenkins, 35, said. “I just feel like it’s an industry that’s deeply rooted in binary gender, and so it can just be hard for people to feel like they belong.”

And that is what Hairrari has been striving for since it was founded in 2011: A safe space for everyone.

“This society kind of has salons that are more known for women and barbershops for men, so I wanted to do something in the middle, and I feel like bringing people together and not something secluded,” said Magda Ryczko, 42, owner of Hairrari.

Ryczko said that as a lesbian, her barbershop has been a way to contribute to the LGBTQ+ community’s cause.

“I just feel like as a brand, we always have to give back and help the society, people coming in supporting us,” she said. “I feel like it’s important to always give back and also train people.”

Ryczko said the safe space she’s built for the last decade has inspired former clients to pick up the shears and become barbers themselves. 

One of them is Carlin, 27, who used to only do their friends’ hair before deciding to pursue haircutting professionally at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. They said that it’s not only the clients who find comfort in a trans-inclusive space; they do, too, as a nonbinary person.

“I kind of came into myself while working here, so part of that is because the clients inspired me and my coworkers inspire me,” they said. “I definitely am more open about my identity since I started working here.”

The barbers also felt that their shared experience with their clients allows them to provide the best service possible.

“I know how traumatizing it can be to go to a barbershop or to another stylist where they don’t understand your gender and what to do,” said Maggie Martinetti, 40, a stylist and barber at Hairrari.

Martinetti said that she is able to help out clients going for more feminine looks, being a transgender woman herself. 

“I attract more people who are more like me,” she said.

A “safe haven” for LGBTQ+ clients has been Ryczko’s goal, but she said that Hairrari is open to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

“I’m a believer that we are all one community,” she said. “Some people want to learn about pronouns and different things; we keep the conversations open and educate them.”

Ryczko told PIX11 News there are some transgender children who are brought by their parents for appointments, who, in turn, become enlightened about the community. She also said Hairrari has been a helpful resource for the neighborhood, as some people go to them for questions about LGBTQ+ matters.

As Ryczko and the barbers prepared to close shop for the day, they were reminded of the work they continue to do, which, in Carlin’s simple and concise words, spell: “Everyone needs haircuts.”

Hairrari’s work and initiatives for this year’s Pride Month can be found here.