Meet Cassie Kurtz
Founder of Her Chair His Hair and Beyond the Beard
Barbershops and Manhattan pretty much go hand-in-hand. You’ll find one on most corners in the neighborhood, likely filled with guys that look like they’ve lived here for 30 years and have more than a few opinions (especially about where to find the best pizza slices and cannoli). It’s a familiar scene, but it’s also one that’s getting a facelift, courtesy of people like Cassie Kurtz.
Cassie lives in NYC, too. She’s a barber (going on five years), but she’s also a woman on a mission: to bring even more women into the industry. It’s working.
Cassie started off in the makeup industry and fell into barbering when she realized she didn’t know enough about men’s grooming. (“On set, I realized I didn’t know anything about facial hair or sideburns.) She decided to go to barber school to learn the basics — and stumbled into her calling…
She’s now the founder of Beyond the Beard, her studio and barbershop, as well as Her Chair His Hair, a non-profit dedicated to giving women an equal platform in an industry historically dominated by men. HCHH partners with Kiva to provide scholarships and loans to women pursuing careers in the industry.
That’s the thing about Cassie. She’s not just building her own business, she’s dedicated to changing the face of the industry by making it more creative and inclusive. Her drive to help other women led us to awarding her a #SchedulicityCares grant in June, 2019. It’s abundantly clear in every aspect of her life, from her detail-oriented shop to her nonprofit events after hours that there’s no stopping her — not even an ER visit. But more on that in a second.
On her typical Tuesday morning:
8 am: I wake up to trucks blasting their horns on the street in front of my apartment building. The sounds of Brooklyn are the perfect way to really jolt you out of deep sleep. My two chihuahuas (aka the rat dogs) are already jumping trying to get into my bed to snooze for however long I give them.
9:15 am: As I’m chugging my second coffee, I’m packing all of the dogs’ belongings because we have a vet visit before work today. Teeny (my younger girl) has her annual check-up to make sure she’s all good to go.
11 am: The vet was running late so naturally we are, too! But it’s okay because our first client of the day is a regular with a fun beard to trim. The dogs LOVE coming in on special occasions. They’ve been dubbed the “Itty Bitty Greeting Committee.” T-shirts coming soon…
12:30 pm: Chiki (my older dog) jumps into my client’s lap while he was getting shampooed. She can now officially put Shop Assistant on her resume.
2 pm: I’m currently preparing to re-launch Her Chair His Hair’s Instagram as well as our new micro-loans through Kiva [editor’s note: an online crowd-funding loan startup] and our 2020 show dates. Naturally, my lunch is mostly phone calls and emails with a few munches of the salad I pick up from SweetGreen across the street. Honestly, it isn’t made well, and I’m not that hungry, so lunch was mostly playing with the dogs after I’ve finished my emails and phone call meeting.
3 pm: Time to get back to work. I’m slammed until 7:30 pm, so at this point I’m making sure all of my hot (and cold!) towels are set up, back bar and tools are clean/wiped-down so I don’t have to think twice. I do everything from greeting to grabbing drinks, shampooing and checking out clients. Being prepared is necessary for my personal sanity.
6 pm: I’m starting to have some cramping/pain in my stomach—probably didn’t help that I skipped lunch. We (okay, I) need to take better care and make sure to eat full meals, have snacks and drink more water.
On her not-so-typical Tuesday evening:
7:30 pm: Wrapping up my last client and the cramps have become super intense. I think I’ll give myself the gift of a taxi home instead of dealing with the subway. Also, it’s kind of difficult to pick the dogs up, which is weird because they’re only 10 pounds combined.
9:15 pm: Well, I ended up in the ER. Turns out I’m the new owner of a fun case of appendicitis! Luckily, I’ve invested in health care despite it costing an arm and a leg every month. I’ll likely be out of work this week and unfortunately that’s too short of time for disability (typically 30 or 90 days to utilize it). I will be researching accidental illness/injury coverage so going forward I’m (mostly) covered for lost work days. As a small business owner, I don’t get paid sick days so I need to make sure I’m investing in the future for moments like this. This day started off just like any other day and it’s scary to think it can change that quickly. As small business owners, we really need to prioritize our health and that means investing in coverage like health, accidental illness, and disability insurance.
11 pm: Pain meds have kicked in, so now I’m able to email all of my clients through Schedulicity to let them know I will be out of the studio. I know it sounds crazy, but now that the pain is taken care of, I can focus on taking care of my clients. They rely on me to respect their time just like they respect mine so this is necessary before I sleep for the night before surgery.
On her advice for someone entering the industry:
Always try to know who will be at an event so you can introduce yourself or follow up and ask to buy them a coffee. Making it clear your remember people goes a long way.
On the breaking gender stereotypes:
Leaving my entire makeup career to pursue being a barber was the biggest risk I’ve taken. Being a barber has completely stunted the career path I thought I once wanted, but being a woman in the barber industry has opened me up to more opportunities than I could’ve ever imagined.
On staying inspired:
In quiet moments when I finally allow my mind to rest, I can finally see past the obvious and work through ideas or problems that have taken a back seat.
On why Schedulicity:
Schedulicity cared when I felt somewhat abandoned by my previous booking system. It sounds super dramatic, and maybe it was, but I was at my lowest period financially in my career as a Barber when I found Schedulicity. Every question was answered, any concern was addressed, and I felt wanted despite having such little business to bring their way. Mind you, I came from a free platform and was willing to pay because I saw such value in Schedulicity. I truly believe it gave me the boost I needed to establish myself as reliable and felt like I was part of a team that wanted to see me succeed.