Barbering was once strictly a man’s job, but Kay White has proven to be just as capable as any male barber for almost 20 years.
White is the owner of Kay’s Family Cuts, which she opened in Copperas Cove in 1995. Even though one of her male competitors predicted she wouldn’t make it, she outlasted him.
“It’s not unusual for a women to be a barber now, but it was when I started,” she said.
White started cutting women’s hair when she was 16 years old. After she married and moved to the Fort Hood area in 1974, she raised her family and put her career on hold until her two children were grown. White couldn’t be a barber in her native Thailand because in that culture a woman is not allowed to touch a man’s head.
“But it’s a different culture in the U.S., so I could attend barber college here where I was taught by a master barber,” White said.
Veteran barber and hair stylist Donna Valverde echoes White’s sentiments. She has worked at White’s shop for the last three years and enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and working in the individual rooms.
“More women are becoming barbers because there’s a need for it and it’s a fun career,” Valverde said.
“This is my favorite shop that I’ve worked in Central Texas.”
The shop is both a barber and beauty salon serving men and women clients. The staff is experienced in hair styles, cuts and perms and nails, but only a licensed barber, like White, can use a straight razor to give shaves.
White has a diverse clientele, from soldiers to business owners, and most of them are long-time regulars.
On a recent rainy Friday morning, many clients filled the shop’s small waiting room, including Jim Posey, one of White’s first customers.
“I like the way she cuts my hair, because she cuts it correctly every time,” Posey said.
Tony Balvin, a 15-year customer, said White always remembers the cut he had the last time he was in her shop.
“So it comes out perfect,” he said. “She doesn’t mind when I talk too much either.”
White said she strives to make all her customers feel special.
“Men like a place they can go and feel comfortable, that’s why they keep coming back,” she said.
Kay’s Family Cuts, 311 W. U.S. Highway 190, Copperas Cove
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday