Portland Barber Spotlight | Kenzy Lee Cuts
Portland Barber Spotlight 02/18/2019
The community spotlight section of our blog showcases people that are doing great things in the world of hair, beards, mental health, addiction, and self-care. We like quality and we know you do too. Follow our blog and we'll give you the rundown on the best cuts, styles, information, and products.
Our local barbers and stylists are an integral part of our community. Not only do they help people look their best, they are often on the front lines of personal connections with people who may need help. Today we are taking a look at another barber from Portland, Oregon.
Meet Kenzy Lee!
We connected through Instagram, specifically through Dylan Cruz, aka Bowl Cuts The Barber. He's worked at Throne Traditional Barbershops, one of our oldest partners, and a few other spots. Kenzy is an awesome barber, who gives awesome cuts. But, she's so much more. She is a fitness enthusiast, a future business owner, an inspiration to those trying to get sober.
“Working with others is only the beginning of service work”.
We wanted to do something a little different with this post and ask for something a little more personal. After reaching out to Kenzy to do an interview, she offered to give us a personal testimonial instead, and we feel that this would be more powerful than a structured interview.
Check out her testimonial below:
Q: Please tell us about what is important to you, your motivations, and anything else you want to say that might help or inspire others.
"Working with others is only the beginning of service work”. Service to others also requires that we look at ourselves & our motives. It is a constant evaluation of self that many do not want to embark on. I’ve always looked at my hair career in a much deeper sense than most seem to.
Q: Where are you from and how did growing up there influence you?
A: Born and raised in Portland, OR, I always felt “outside the box” as a child. When I found expression through doing hair, I felt I had found my calling.
Q: What shops have you worked at before, and where do you work now?
A: The last shop I worked at was Northwest Barber Association, for about 4 months. Before that, I worked at Rooks Barbershop for 5 years. I’m currently not working behind the chair at a shop, only teaching at Champions Barbering Institute once a week.
- Q: What are you doing now, if you're not currently in a chair?
A: I'm taking a few weeks off to concentrate on the opening of my own shop, Take Pride Barbershop, in the beginning of March.
- Q: Where is that going to be located?
A: It will be located in the heart of inner NE PDX on 25th & Sandy Blvd.
- Q: Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your experiences? What's your story, what got you to where you are today?
I've been doing hair for almost 14 years now, licensed for 12. I began as a stylist concentrating on color and mostly longer haircuts for about 6 1/2 years. Although I loved it, I was always intrigued by the barbering world, and with a knack for extreme detail in my work, I wanted to try it out. I threw myself into a traditional barbershop called “The Modern Man” which no longer exists in Portland. I learned how to cut hair completely different than when I was a stylist.
I was trained to straight razor shave by a barber above me and watched YouTube every day before work to take in as much knowledge as possible. I stayed there for about 9 months and then when to Rooks Barbershop in SE PDX. I continued to try and improve and take classes whenever I could. Understanding that hair is a never-ending process of always trying to get better. To this day, I will never believe I have learned it all.
There is ALWAYS room for improvement! Within a couple of years of barbering, I was approached by Bonafide Pomade to start teaching classes for them. I have learned so much from teaching! I’ve never thought my haircuts were perfect, but there is so much more to barbering than just a good fade. I have enjoyed sharing my tricks to create a good cut, as well as the people skills that come along with being successful. That was the main reason I got into doing hair in the first place.
It was a way to affect people in a positive way on an everyday basis, plus get paid for it. It was a dream job for me.
I’m so excited to finally be opening my own barbershop because I want a chance to give back to the community even more. With my shop, I will have control over being able to reach many people, not just through a regular service. Beyond hair cuts and colors, I will be providing continued education out of the shop. Helping fellow barbers to grow and learn more about what barbering is really all about.
"Nothing makes me happier than helping others feel good about themselves!"
I also plan on showcasing other local artists in the shop, such as clothing, jewelry, & fine art. It’s a way to support the local PDX community in my own way. I want to do fundraiser such as free haircut days to donate all proceeds to local nonprofit organizations, charities, and shelters. There are so many ways to help others, the barbershop will only be my vessel to do more!
This will set TAKE PRIDE BARBERSHOP in its own category, it will be so much more than just a barbershop. I would love to see the future of barbering take a turn more towards the importance of service to others. I feel that was how it originated and has sadly shifted to being more about the barber and how the client can benefit them. With the rise of social media and the “rock star barber” mentality, we have begun to lose the true reason behind doing hair.
"SERVICE TO OTHERS."
It’s not about the dopest fade, who is a better photographer, or making a viral cutting video. Sure, all that helps and can be tools for becoming well known, but in the end, we should be treating every client like the king or queen they are. Providing the best service possible dictated by the client's specific needs. Not what we want to do to impress others.
I’ve gained a lot of clarity about my career and life through my recent decision to start a completely sober lifestyle. I was an addict of everything...from pills, alcohol, cocaine, weed, crack, mushrooms, meth, to X, I would pretty much do any drug I could get my hands on for the last 15 years. I made excuses for myself because I still maintained a job, housing, and didn’t do it around my kid. I was an extremely functional addict, but slowly dying inside with each day.
I became a pro at hiding my addiction to my clients, friends, & loved ones.
I’ve now been sober for almost 90 days with help from NA, AA, getting a sponsor, & working the 12 step program to become a better human. The last year or so I was more lost than I ever had been before. All the drug use wasn’t fun anymore and it was beginning to take more of a toll on my life physically & mentally with each day. Since I’ve become sober a lot has changed.
Many of the people I thought were my friends, I no longer talk to. I’ve felt isolation and rejection because of it. With each day I heal, I begin to realize the type of people I want as friends and the way I want my life to be. These are all new feelings that are scary and unknown. But, I also have the most amazing feeling of freedom. Something I’ve never felt before.
I no longer rely on the crutch of addiction to get through the day. What's even better is that I’ve felt REAL happiness and love for life that I never knew existed. I’m completely present as a mother for my 9-year-old son, who has always been my biggest motivation to do well. I’m also present for my clients I’ve gained over the years. I remember so much more about who they are as people and how they like their hair cut.
"It’s a true gift to have such clarity and it would have never happened without sobriety."
It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding. Now I can only hope in the coming years to help spread the light of health and happiness to others in need. To continue to learn and grow in my career, and reach others on a positive note through my barbershop in every way possible. My life has truly just begun, and I’m forever thankful for this opportunity to give back.
There's a lot more we wanted to ask Kenzy but, there's only so much time. We plan on checking back in with her after she opens her new shop, Take Pride Barbershop in March. Be sure to stop in and get a cut, color, or shave when you're in the Portland area. All of Kenzys information can be found below.
To contact her or see some previous work, look below:
Owner / Barber at Take Pride Barbershop
To book an appointment.