Last weekend, I had the privilege of sitting in one of Hairrari’s renowned barber chairs and chatting with Sara, my incredible barber, and Magda Ryczko, the founder of the Hairrari enterprise. Hairrari is an “all-inclusive barbershop” in every sense of the term. No conversation is taboo when a client is in the barber chair, and as the saying goes, receiving a haircut there really is a bit like a therapy session.
In each of Hairrari’s three locations in the East Village, Bushwick, and Williamsburg, Magda has personally trained the barbers to not only welcome (and deliver!) outrageous cuts, but to welcome clients of every background, identity, and preference. As she says, “I am most proud of the connections we have formed. All my friends come from hair. All the clients help us so much… there’s such an amazing, positive energy. I get to reach that spirit; positivity.”
Hairrari began when Magda’s foray into cosmetology school led to her being fired from, by her count, twelve salons. The atmospheres of those salons, in her experience and in Sara’s, were not only incredibly hierarchical but innately sexist, defining barbers and clients by their presented gender and not by their wants or needs.
Magda was desperate to work in her field and actually enjoy cutting hair, so she took a position in a Williamsburg barbershop, and the rest is history. She opened her own barbershop as an “in-between” space, because “not everybody is the same.” She categorizes Hairrari by its existence in the gray space between a barbershop and a salon, saying that “we are in the middle. We are not a full barbershop or a salon. We’re more open.”
Now, Hairrari works with an even split of female and male identifying clients, in addition to the clients who identify as nonbinary or ask for haircuts that are entirely un-gendered. Magda defines her clientele’s style as ranging from “babies to old ladies.”
When I asked how the idea of an inclusive barbershop emerged, Magda explains that it took shape in the very becoming of the shop. An employee of hers suggested that Hairrari support the queer community with a barber pole sporting the trans flag, and Magda was all in. Other clients left reviews lauding Hairrari as giving the “best dyke haircut,” and this became the brand’s label. They have even adopted this nomenclature on their social media and website, promoting Hairrari as a barbershop that is “welcome for all.”
When it comes to serving clients, Magda really does focus on serving them the looks with which they most identify. “I just do whatever they want,” she explains. “I don’t try to force clients to get other things…I know the clients know what they like, so I figure that out and give them exactly that.”
Magda’s protégée, Sara, echoes this same sentiment. “A lot of our clients have short hair,” she says, “and they say that whenever they go to a salon… they think the client may not be 100% sure (about what they want). They come here and they get what they want!”
And it’s this very connection, as Magda asserts, that keeps clients returning to Hairrari. Amidst the buzz of clippers and the whir of hairdryers, there is a profound sense of home and ease in the barbershop. The staff’s family atmosphere only adds to this unity, and Sara says that Hairrari is one of the few places where, after work is done for the day, she feels only love. “I feel like it’s the only thing that’s super consistent on my life. I can lean on it and rely on my coworkers.”
This interconnectivity is the reason that clients do keep coming back to Hairrari. The staff is invited to cut hair at events not just in New York, where Magda has performed her art at locales such as the Buzzfeed offices to promote Pride month and at OZYfest in Central Park, but also across the globe. They are looking forward to reconnecting with clients who live in Paris at an upcoming event.
As Hairrari continues to expand its presence and that of its clients, both in the shop and in the world, Magda takes all of this with one central tenet in mind. “You never know when somebody needs you or when you need them,” she says. “I feel like it’s important to do your best at whatever you do, and to not ignore anything.”
We agree, Magda, and you have made Hairrari into a force that simply cannot be ignored.