Buzzin’ business

Senior turns his hobby into a business


Grace Elder

Kio cuts his client’s hair. Many people go to get their hair cut by him because of his low price.

Walking into Senior Van Kio’s at-home barber shop setup, Cameron Pero was immediately impressed and knew he could trust his new barber. A ring light, barber chair and shelf with other equipment all stood waiting for Pero, Kio’s next customer.

Kio started a hair cutting business in February 2021, and since then, he’s taken what used to be just a hobby and turned it into the beginning of a career.

“I used to think haircutting was just for fun,” Kio said. “But when I realized what the future looks like, I really need the haircuts to (be) my whole career and turn it into my own business.”

Kio first got interested in cutting hair because of his father. Starting when his family lived in Malaysia, his father would cut all of their hair. Seeing his father cut hair sparked an interest in Kio. So, one day, he asked if he could help, and his father agreed.

After that, he began cutting his brother’s hair as well as a few of his cousins. According to Kio, cutting hair came pretty naturally to him. 

“I really enjoy cutting hair because it feels comfortable,” Kio said.

During quarantine, he had extra time to practice and learn more advanced hair cutting techniques. Feeling more confident in his skills, Kio began to take on customers other than his family in early 2021. He now has customers from SHS as well as other schools in the area.

When he started his business, he drew on advice from his cousin, who had previously attended barber school.

“I was interviewing him (about) how he studied,” Kio said. “I just got advice from him.”

Kio turned to social media to get the word out about his new business. He started an Instagram where he shares pictures of the hair cuts he gives. His account allows people to see his work as well as to book appointments.

But, Instagram isn’t the only way that customers have found out about him. Pero heard about him from another friend at school.

Enticed by his friend’s satisfaction and a low price, Pero decided to give Kio a try.

“I was excited to get it, obviously, because he’s charging $5 for the haircut which is pretty good for any regular haircut,” Pero said.

Even though he was slightly nervous before he got his haircut, he knew that it would turn out well. He had already seen the detail and time that Kio put into his friend’s haircut and felt sure that the same would be done for him.

Pero wasn’t disappointed. His experience with Kio greatly surpassed that of his old barber shop.

“The place I was going before is a $15 haircut and they would do it in five minutes and be done,” Pero said. “But he took his time…, and it was way better than any other haircut I’ve had.”

For Kio, taking his time is one of the most important aspects of being a barber.

Everyone has different head shapes, hair textures and wants different styles of haircuts. So, it is crucial that he takes the time to work carefully and slowly, making sure to get every detail.

One thing that Kio has learned is figuring out what haircut will suit each person. Some of his customers come in without a clear idea of what they want. When this happens, he looks at their head shape and then decides what haircut would compliment it.

His attention to detail has been consistent throughout his whole life. At first he wanted to be a mechanic, but he realized that those jobs may soon be replaced by robots. According to Kio however, barbers won’t ever be able to be replaced by robots. He hopes to continue growing his business and perfecting his craft so that in the future, it can support him.

For Kio, cutting hair all goes back to two things, patience and focus.

“You can’t rush anything…,” Kio said. “If you want to cut hair, you’ve got to know if you’re patient or not. If you’re not patient enough, it won’t work out.”