Bringing new life to the classic barbershop experience at Smooth Kutz Barbershop

Barbershops hold a special place in the hearts of many, serving as more than just a place for a shave and cut. They are cultural hubs that foster camaraderie, conversation, and community. 

They have long served as safe havens for men providing spaces where men can exchange stories and experiences as well as seek advice. 

Benson Harvey, the owner of Smooth Kutz Barbershop, says as a child he would visit the barbershop frequently with his father, where the barbers’ professionalism and respectability left a lasting impression on him.

“My dad would take me on the weekends, every other Saturday and I always enjoyed the environment," he says. “I liked how the barbers carried themselves and they were respectable men. They were someone to look up to.”

Barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz, works on giving Roderick Williams a bald fade.While his first career aspiration was to be a chef, Harvey later realized that a career in barbering better aligned with his personality and goals.

It seems Harvey was always destined to be on an entrepreneurial path. He says it was his father who fostered his entrepreneurial spirit, encouraging him to always seize the day.. 

“He always used to tell me, ‘Son, the early bird catches the worm and, don’t nothing come to a sleeper, but a dream,’” says Harvey. 

Now as the owner of a barbershop himself Harvey is bringing new life to the classic barbershop experience.

Barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz.Originally from Fort Wayne, Harvey’s family moved to Georgia during the summer of his sophomore year. He attended and graduated from South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Georgia. After moving back to Fort Wayne in 2015, Harvey attended Ravenscroft Beauty College

“I attended Ravenscroft at night, and worked at Vera Bradley during the day,” says Harvey. “When I graduated in 2018, my wife and I decided to move back to Georgia for a fresh start and a new beginning.”

He began his barbering career at Total Package Barbershop in Snellville with nine other barbers. 

 A display showcasing different hairstyles with local barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz.“I gained a lot of experience from that and was able to work with a lot of different personalities and see how people did business,” says Harvey. 

As newlyweds and new parents, it was tough on Harveys and his wife being so far away from their support system. In 2019, after a year of living in Georgia, the couple decided it was best for them to return to their hometown and to be closer to family. 
Hearing of his return, a long-time family friend and Harvey’s childhood barber, Carlos Townsend offered him a booth at his shop, Premium Cuts.

“It was a good opportunity for me and I was able to build up a great clientele,” says Harvey. “I was working there part-time and at Vera Bradley full-time.”
But when the pandemic struck and affected his full-time job, he saw an opportunity to channel his energy into his own business. 

Greg Bolden works on giving a customer a line up at at Smooth Kutz.“The pandemic really inspired me to keep cutting, and get my LLC,” he says. “I just didn’t stop grinding. I became disciplined enough to put my life in my hands and take care of my family.”

Cutting hair out of his father's house and building a loyal clientele, he persevered through the pandemic.

“I was living with my grandmother and she was showing me love,” Harvey chuckles. “She wasn’t charging me a lot for rent so I could save up for my own place.” 

Barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz, works on giving Roderick Williams a bald fade.Then, Harvey was presented with the opportunity to take over a well-respected, local shop, Richard’s Unisex Barbershop. He says it felt like the opportunity just fall into his lap. 

“Of course, I had talks with my grandmother, my wife, and pops, and they were all like, ‘Go for it!’” he says. “All I had to do was come in, clean up, and add my magic to it.” 

With a seamless transition and minimal renovations, Smooth Kutz came into existence and has been fully operating for a little over two years.

“For a long time, my Instagram name has been ‘@b_tosmoothharvey’ and I think that is just like my lifestyle– everything’s smooth and peaceful,” says Harvey. 

He says even the process of getting his barbershop off the ground was much like the name of his business– smooth.

Barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz, works on giving Roderick Williams a bald fade.“I feel like I went through all of the road stops before I got to this point,” he says. “This was like God showing me this is the calm after the storm. I’ve been blessed, I can’t even explain it.”

While Harvey describes starting his business as smooth sailing, he’s not afraid to admit that entrepreneurship comes with some unique challenges.

“I’ve mostly gotten out of it, but I’m pretty much an introvert,” says Harvey. “It can be challenging opening up and giving myself to people with different energies.”

Despite having already obtained his LLC, Harvey recognized the value of continuous learning and enrolled in the Build Institute Entrepreneur Program, a nine-week basic business program that helps participants gain knowledge on how to start and run a business.

Barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz, works on giving Roderick Williams a bald fade.“The Build Institute really opened my eyes to networking and black business associations and just knowing about the different options that are out there,” Harvey says. “It also really broke down the ins and outs of running a business. I knew I was on the right track but it made me aware that I have to keep moving a certain way.”

The atmosphere at Smooth Kutz exudes positive energy and maintains a family-friendly environment. With a mix of old-school music, including gospel and jazz, it captures the essence of a traditional barbershop while embracing the present and creating a unique, soulful vibe.

“I really want people to know anybody can come in our shop and they’ll feel welcomed,” says Harvey. “Bring your grandma, bring your mom. We’re a family here.”

Barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz, holding artwork depicting old school comedians.
Historically barbershops have been known as a space predominantly for men, but Benson hopes he can contribute to dismantling that stigma. 

“I look forward to improving my services and being able to style a more diverse clientele,” he says. “I really want my shop to continue growing as a comfortable and positive place.”

Benson says he is always seeking out ways to enhance his services, offering everything from haircuts and razor shaves to beard trims and future additions such as masks and beard washes.

Barber Benson Harvey, owner of Smooth Kutz.Follow Smooth Kutz: Facebook | Instagram

To book an appointment, visit them online or stop by the shop for walk-in services.
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Read more articles by Desaray Bradley.

Desaray is expecting to graduate from Purdue University Fort Wayne in the spring of 2021 with a bachelor's degree in Communication: Media and Culture and a minor in Public Relations. She enjoys traveling, photography, and short story writing in her free time.