By Jonathan Alexander
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Family, comfort, and most importantly, respect. Jeff Warren, owner of Signature Kutz barbershop, cherishes these most and hopes that these values are transmitted to customers and visitors.
Although he was born in Clinton, NC, Warren calls himself a Durham native because he’s lived here since he was five.
Years ago, Warren had worked in NECD at New Flavor Barbershop. “Once the building became available, then I got the opportunity to start my own, and I came back to the same area because I knew a lot of people and liked the area,” said Warren.
He had been a barber for 15 years when he finally got his opportunity to open up a shop of his own in NECD in April 2010.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Warren. “It was a nice community and popular area and I knew they were renovating and cleaning up in the area.”
Located across the street from Joe’s Diner at the corner of Angier Avenue and Driver Street, Warren gets a lot of his business from their customers. He says he expected it to be a good move since Joe’s had just opened and the area was moving in the right direction.
“I heard about Joe’s Diner so I knew the opportunity was getting ready to grow again. And by them opening up and of course I graduated with his wife [from Hillside High in 1980]; we were classmates,” said Warren. “The opportunity at the time, the idea was redeveloping the area.”
One of the most important things Warren tries to demonstrate and prides himself on is “respect.”
When one walks in to the maroon and grey-painted barbershop, the colors of NCCU, they will hear the sounds of R&B or gospel music. He doesn’t want any part of hip-hop because he wants his establishment to have a family atmosphere.
“We try to run it as a family base, even though that we are not any kin or relation,” said Warren. “Always speaking to the customers when they come in no matter whether we knew them or not, new customers or old customers, we greet everybody that comes in the door,” he said.
Nowadays, stereotypes tend to plague barbershops and give them bad names. Some women don’t feel comfortable walking into barbershops with all men, but Warren insists that is not the case in his. Along with the five barber chairs, he also houses one female hairstylist.
“A lot of things go in at a barbershop and we don’t want that stereotype. Like ‘oh you can say anything in a barbershop.’ No you can’t, that’s in the olden days. We try to respect everybody with kids, females and males. Just because it’s a bunch of guys in here doesn’t mean we have to do a lot of cussing,” said Warren.
Customers also seem to agree with Warren’s notion.
“The atmosphere and hospitality is good,” said usual customer Jonathan Ruffin. “I’ve been coming since it opened.”
Warren attributes his business’ success to this rapport with customers as well as his affordable prices.
“Business has been great,” said Warren. “And we have a special every Monday and Wednesday.”
The special includes haircuts for kids 10 and under for $5, while ages 11 and up is only $7.
“Some people have three and four boys, even for a single parent that’s not working it’s affordable for them,” said Warren. “Every week it doesn’t change. You’re saving $5, and that’s a big saving especially in the haircut world.”
Warren says he enjoys giving back to the community.
“You’ve got to give them the opportunity to make their own special day. So we try to give back to the community. Instead of having something once a month, or back to school special we have something every week,” said Warren.
“We set our prices compared to what we think they can afford or what anybody can afford,” he said.
Warren recognizes the growth and building of the community and wants to continue to be a part of it.
“You know it’s just a lot of respect. It’s time for a lot of respect especially in an area that has been known for crime. So it’s just time to change.”