By MATT CRANE
For Alan Evans, cutting hair just comes naturally.
“I started cutting hair when I was 13 years old,” he said. “I started cutting hair in my mom’s kitchen.”
Evans said he was inspired to cut hair after an unpleasant experience in a barber’s chair left him with bad hair cut. He began observing a man his cousin, Donna Jones, was dating at the time.
“I would watch him to see what he was doing, then I started doing it myself,” he said. “I didn’t miss a beat, and I told people, ‘See? I told you I could do it.’”
Beginning with his brothers and cousins, Evans said his clientele grew from word-of-mouth experiences.
“After one person saw what I could do, they said, “This boy’s got it,’” he said. “It started gradually increasing after people kept seeing my work.”
Evans said when he was in school, teachers would let him bring his clippers to class and cut hair for some of the children in the school’s gymnasium.
“I understood a lot of people were like me in that my mom couldn’t afford the time to take us to town to get haircuts, and I knew there were a lot of other people in the same position,” he said. “I would carry my clippers and cut the people’s hair who were less fortunate. They’d come in with their heads down, but leave with their head up because it’s all about making people feel good about themselves.”
Now at age 33 with 20 years experience under his belt, Evans is the owner of Kustom Kutz and Stylz. The shop has been open for five years.
“From the beginning, I knew it was a gift from God,” he said. “It just came naturally.”
Evans said he remembers stories of beginner barbers and their struggles with the craft, but contends that he never faced those struggles. He compares his craft to sports.
“It’s like, if you’re an athlete, then you’re an athlete,” he said. “No one ever really showed me how to do it, I just knew what to do.”
Evans obtained his license after graduating from barber college in Starkville in 2008.
“My cousin (Jones) had a 10-by- 12 storage building she cut hair out of. Whe allowed me to come and exercise my gift,” he said. “It was really small, but we never complained. We just came together on it.”
Evans said he asked Jones to come on board with him when he made the decision to open Kustom Kutz, but was never concerned about dollar signs.
“It’s not about the money; you’ve got to have a passion,” he said. “I never had a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be successful.”
Evans said his faith in God is what has brought him through and continues to push him for greatness.
“It was more about faith that helped me to have confidence in what I do,” he said. “Because faith without works is dead.”
Evans said the validation in his profession comes from the positive response and outlook he sees in his clients’ faces when they look in the mirror after every cut.
“You get confirmation through the clients and the atmosphere you create,” he said. “If you’ve got something, then you have to give them something.”
Part of that giving back process will manifest in the form of Evans’ first customer appreciation day on Saturday.
“We’re looking forward to a great turnout, but it’s also for the people who work in the shop because sometimes we spend more time in the shop than we spend at home,” he said. “It’ll give them a deeper connection to come together and have a better relationship with each other and the people who have supported us throughout the years.”
Beginning at 1 p.m. at George Evans Park and the Gillespie Street Center, Evans said attendees can expect basketball, sack racing and other family friendly activities.
“There’ll be a lot of games we’ll be playing and some cash prize giveaways,” he said. “We also have over 100 gift cards to give out from various restaurants around town.”
Above all, Evans gives all the credit for his success to God.
“I see how God has blessed me now,” he said. “All the sacrificing I did back then, I am reaping the rewards now, and it’s a good feeling.”