WATERLOO — A Waterloo barber is planning to go mobile.
William L. Burt, who cuts hair at four different locations in the Cedar Valley, is looking to launch Kut Kings, a mobile barbershop.
Burt refurbished a bus with wood panel flooring and a barber pole near the driver’s seat. There’s seating for a customer, a couch for people waiting and a chair next to a sink where people can have their hair washed. In one corner of the bus there’s a flat-screen TV connected to an Xbox. Both are secured to stay in place while the bus is motion.
He brings a large generator with the bus to power some of the vehicle’s electrical amenities.
The only problem is going mobile is illegal, something Burt hopes to change.
Iowa code requires a fixed location for barber shops.
“When I started this I didn’t know it was illegal,” Burt said. “By the time I found out, I had the bus and the floor, and had probably invested seven grand at that point.”
Burt doesn’t want to break the law; he wants to change the law.
“The law will be changed,” he said. “I took on this challenge to go to Des Moines with this, and hopefully the story gets to Des Moines before I do.”
The idea of a mobile barber shop originated for Burt while he was joking around in prison.
“It was something I held on to, and eventually got around to doing,” Burt said.
A lot of Burt’s early life was spent in and out of jails and prison cells with charges ranging from domestic assault to speeding. It’s part of his story, but it doesn’t define where he’s going.
Burt bought the bus earlier this year and thought it would only take a couple of months to get started.
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It’s been almost a year, and he’s starting to accept customers when he can. Kut Kings won’t be going house to house yet because of the law and the cost.
“It was a slow process,” Burt said. “I was thinking I’d be done in three or four months, but it seems like every time I got close to being done I ran into a new obstacle.”
He’s had at least $5,000 worth of mechanical issues throughout 2018. A lot of his bills have been paid off $100 at a time.
“If I pull up to your house to give you a haircut you have to assume that’s going to cost more than my current location,” Burt said. “I don’t want to charge people $40 to $50 for a haircut.”
His vision for Kut Kings is to reach the communities that are sometimes overlooked.
People who come into the barber shops he works for are able to afford haircuts weekly, biweekly or monthly. Burt wants to reach the people not stopping in, the homeless, shut-ins and veterans.
“I would like to team with the Waterloo Community Schools, for example,” Burt said. “I have a pretty lengthy background I can give to those kids, I could also mentor while I’m cutting.”
He wants to go beyond being a traditional barbershop.
“There is more to do out here, and there’s more people to reach than the people that can actually afford a haircut,” Burt said. “For every industry there’s an under-served population.”
He’s hoping to get grants to help him help reach more people in community who can’t get regular haircuts.
“I’m more than just a barber,” Burt said. “There is so much more to this than cutting hair.”
People confess their sins and speak more openly with their barbers than they do with some of their loved ones, he said.
“You genuinely get to know your clients,” Burt said.