Kenneth Lee Smith, owner of the new Sticcks Barbershop in Gainesville, considers himself more than a barber.
He gives free haircuts to the homeless, offers life advice to youth and leaves many people feeling more positive than when they entered his business.
“He’s like a doctor,” Steven Hill, longtime friend of Smith, said while getting a haircut on Tuesday, Dec. 10. “You’re getting that one-on-one counseling for 15 to 30 minutes and you leave feeling fresh and brand-new.”
Smith, who was born and raised in Gainesville, said his passion for cutting hair sparked during childhood.
“When I was 5 years old, I would always want to cut my cousins’ hair, but they would tell me that I wasn’t good enough,” he said.
Smith knew that he was good enough and is now in his ninth year of working as a barber.
When a space opened at 1780 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Smith said he felt like God was telling him to “take that leap of faith.”
He opened Sticcks Barbershop on Dec. 5.
“Every day I just thank God that my vision came to pass,” Smith said. “I feel like he blessed me to further grow my vision, so others can look up to me as an inspiration.”
The name Sticcks is an acronym. Each letter stands for the name of a person who was in Smith’s former group of barbers.
They met in barber school and worked together for a short time in a barbershop. Each member decided to take another career route, except for Smith.
When Smith began thinking of names for his business, the old name kept coming to mind.
“I think it makes sense and is ordained by God,” Smith said. “This is the first location of Sticcks Barbershop and we ‘sticcks’ together as a group.”
Since becoming a barber, Smith has worked to not only better people’s appearances, but better their quality of life.
Smith has given free haircuts to the homeless and those in need around Gainesville for the past year. He teams up with Hill, owner of the catering business, Hillside BBQ. They offer this service through their Gainesville church, Guiding Light Ministries.
“When I have something going on with the homeless, I reach out to Kenneth,” Hill said. “We bring a generator, feed them and give them clothes, and he (Smith) cuts their hair.”
Smith said cutting homeless people’s hair can prove an emotional experience.
“You see these families with kids and how grateful they are to get that help,” he said. “That can be any of us. It makes you realize how blessed you are.”
Hill and Smith said they will never forget one family, who currently live in a government-owned apartment complex.
The single father visited Guiding Light Ministries on Dec. 8 and thanked Smith for cutting his kids’ hair. Before he left, Hill said the man asked them for toilet paper because he didn’t have any at home.
Smith said he soon realized that the single father wasn’t too different from himself.
“He’s raising his kids in the same apartment complex that I was raised in,” Smith said. “We struggled at one time, too, and I was one of those little boys that looked up to others, too. That was one of the most emotional feelings.”
Looking toward the future of Sticcks Barbershop, Smith hopes to eventually create a franchise and open his own barber school.
For now, he is building up his clientele and staff.
He currently employs one part-time barber and will take on a full-time hair braiding specialist on Dec. 16.
Smith invites the Hall County community members to pop in for his business’s grand opening from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15.
Sticcks Barbershop’s hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday; and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Sticcks Barbershop grand opening
When: 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15