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Thursday June 1st

'More than just a haircut': UNC senior cuts hair, builds community

Anaía Brewster, a senior human development and family studies major, poses for a portrait at the Stone Center on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
Buy Photos Anaía Brewster, a senior human development and family studies major, poses for a portrait at the Stone Center on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated where Anaía Brewster cuts her clients' hair. The article has been updated to more clearly reflect where Brewster runs her business from. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error. 

Anaía Brewster gave her friend an emergency haircut the day before classes started during her first year at UNC. Now, three years later, she runs her own business called Cuts by Anaía.

Brewster is a senior majoring in human development and family studies, and while she said school always comes first, she doesn’t give anything she does less than her best effort.

Cuts by Anaía originated when Brewster decided to follow a passion and skill that she felt she could improve upon. It has now evolved into a part of her week where she can relax from all other stressors and focus on her craft.

“Now, I would say that it really is relaxation for me, because after a long day of schoolwork or after a long day of whatever life gives me, I have to cut a head,” Brewster said. “That's something that's routine. That's something that I can depend on. That's something that I could execute and like the result of.”

Parker Community Director Uyikhosa Idahor was Brewster’s boss during her time as a resident adviser.

Idahor said she had to tell Brewster to stop doing haircuts in the residence hall because it was against housing rules, but the barber took this new obstacle in stride and set up a location outside of the residence hall to continue cutting hair.

“That's when I knew for sure, she was a true entrepreneur,” Idahor said. "She was truly a barber."

Idahor is impressed by Brewster’s drive in embracing her passions while juggling her busy schedule. 

“She’s a Black woman that cuts hair, she's also in the UNC gospel choir, she's also working for housing, she's also a student and she also has many friends — and she's able to balance it all,” Idahor said.

Even though she balances a loaded schedule, Brewster is dedicated to making sure her clients have an incredible experience at her business. 

“I've seen her talk about her clients,” Idahor said. “I've seen the client reviews. I know that is more than just a haircut — it's something that was needed, it was an experience, it’s a memory.”

Lionel Means III received his first haircut from Brewster in February 2020 to avoid making the two-hour drive back to his hometown in Charlotte. Now, while he’s home for the semester, he makes that two-hour drive to get his hair cut by Brewster.

Means said he’s willing to make the drive not only because her cuts are affordable and guaranteed to be great, but also because she’s become a friend to him throughout his time as a client. 

“It's hard to find someone who cuts hair good, so to find someone who is a friend, a confidante and an amazing barber, it’s like she’s everything in one,” Means said.

Brewster said customer connection is an integral part of her business model.

“I heard this quote once: 'When you walk in a barbershop, you're able to lay your burdens down at the door and discuss them and the people around you will pick them up,'” Brewster said. “That's kind of your job. You're providing a service, but you're also being a listening ear.”

Brewster's ability to reach the community by providing a service that stems from a passion is a part of the business she particularly enjoys.

“I believe people are meant to support other people, so I feel like these strengths have afforded me the opportunity to do that in a more expansive way,” Brewster said.

Brewster normally cuts hair in her home, but makes house calls to off-campus clients as well. Appointments can be booked on her Booksy website or on the link in her Instagram bio.

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