Jun 16, 2022
Hair style is a key part of expressing one’s gender identity. But precious few establishments in Brooklyn — and New York City overall — offer gender-neutral spaces to get a haircut.
As Magda Ryczko explains, there are traditional “salons,” which most people label as feminine, that focus on “long hair and color.” On the other end of the spectrum, there are, in her words, “hypermasculine” barber shops that “often have a stiff and inaccessible vibe, especially for queer and trans folx.” (The Dress Code Project, which provides inclusive barbershop training around the world, says that over 90 percent of LGBTQ+ customers have been misgendered during a haircut.)
So in 2011, after working at different barber shops in Williamsburg, Ryczko, who identifies as a lesbian, decided to open her own shop in the area. It had only enough chairs for two clients at a time, but the demand came pretty quickly. She now presides over a mini-chain of locations — another in East Williamsburg, one in Manhattan and one in Los Angeles, co- owned by a former employee — and has her own line of hair products sold at her locations, all under the Hairrari name.
Today there is a growing movement of queer-friendly barbershops opening across the borough, but Ryczko is seen as a pioneer. All Hairrari employees display their pronouns prominently in their work spaces and get training on pronoun sensitivity.
Hairrari also tries to offer free cuts to those who can’t afford them.
“It’s not just work. It’s a responsibility to be present, be there for people, and inspire people [so] that they can be themselves,” Ryczko told Popsugar.