Your names/a little about yourself ?
My name is Kylee and I'm a barber (barber_kyleehowell) and a barber shop (friartucksbarbers) owner in Salt Lake City
What's your story?
Growing up, when I saw myself in the mirror it was like who am I and where do I fit in. I grew up in a small town in central Utah, my mom actually had a beauty shop in our house. I was aware of what girls were supposed to look like, but I made a choice to be happy, and to be genuine with who I was. I cut my hair short, and I really felt like I had come into myself like “oh there you are, thats you.” Looking back at old pictures just kind of reminds me of what its like to not know yourself.
Once I started frequenting barber shops, I didn't really feel that they were like "come on in." Barber shops are known to be pretty hyper masculine places, its a dudes space. I realized there might be room to create a new haircut experience. Friar Tucks is for anyone, if you have hair and you want it cut in a barber style, you can come and get that cut. I love what you can do for somebody with just a haircut, how that can change how somebody perceives themselves, its really empowering for me to be able to give that confidence to somebody else.
I think if I let it, my role as a woman could hold me back. Barbering is thought of as a mans industry and it would be easy to get caught up in that. The women in this industry might be few, but we are fierce. Having the support of other women barbers has been pivotal in my ability to keep pushing forward. For a really long time, I just equated beauty with femininity and now I think theres a million definitions of beautiful, the most beautiful someone can be is when they're being the most authentically themselves.
How did you get it started?
I grew up around hairdressers. My mom and step mom are cosmetologists who both had shops in their houses and my uncle is a barber. But doing hair was never on my mind, until a visit to my own barber. He was so happy to talk about his job and where his life was headed and something just sort of clicked. With the support of my wife, I quit my full time job and went to The Barber School in Midvale Utah 3 days after talking to him about it.
What struggles have you over come and how?
School was hard mostly because of the financial strain it put on us as a family. I just worked as hard as I could through school so that I could quickly find a job. It is also hard for some men to take me seriously in this industry, client and fellow barbers alike. I just work on my skills as a barber, try to do the best haircuts I can, and give the best service that my guests can expect. Opening my own shop was a whole other beast and something I didn't see myself doing as quickly as it happened. But an opportunity presented itself and the risk has so far paid off!
How has your role of a woman pushed you forward or held you back?
I think if I let it, it could hold me back. Barbering is thought of as a mans industry and it would be easy to get caught up in that. The women in this industry might be few, but we are fierce. Having the support of other women barbers has been pivotal in my ability to keep pushing forward.
How do you stay positive and focused?
I genuinely love what I do every day. And I'm even more blessed that it pays the bills. I've worked a career that I was unhappy in, it's hard to feel negative now that I've experienced the other side of that.
Any words of advice for future girl bosses following in your footsteps?
"You can't control the waves, but you can learn how to surf"
I think my best piece of advice for future girl bosses would be to stick with it. If you know what you're into and what you want to do, stick to it and don't let anyone tell you different. I promise, the pay off is well worth the effort.