Ruff Kuttz owner still on a mission after 20 years

Published 12:42 am Monday, July 24, 2017

Carnell Williams’ barbershop is not the least bit ordinary. Cutting and styling hair is just a part of what he does.

For Williams, Ruff Kuttz barbershop is an opportunity to share his faith in Christ with people from all walks of life. It’s the mission field in a barber’s chair.

Williams said his success comes from God, and that’s the reason why his Main Street shop will celebrate 20 years of business on Nov. 5.

“I had a head full of hair when I started working,” he laughed, passing a hand across his scalp. “One thing that helped me is that I had the Lord in my life. … I was focused because I had Christ.”

Williams said his inspiration for the barbershop came early, when Pig Jones cut his hair as a little boy at the Rainbow Barbershop. Watching Jones at a young age, Williams said he knew he wanted to be just like him.

That’s what pushed the then-29-year-old to take a leap of faith — no credit to his name but yet securing a bank loan for the business, seemingly an act of divine intervention in itself.

“Lord, why are calling me to do something good? I didn’t understand it then,” Williams recalled. “If you make the right choices and you seek the Lord, you can do the right thing. … He directed me then, and he’s directing me now.”

LOYAL CUSTOMER: Ruff Kuttz owner Carnell Williams gives a haircut to one of his first customers, Rod Smith.

Before securing a license, Williams gained two years’ experience at Diamond Kutt. Then, during Ruff Kuttz’s first five years, the main goal was to build clientele.

“My motto is, we cut anything but grass,” he said. “If that doesn’t cover it, then I don’t know what.”

Williams said the reason people keep coming back 20 years later is because of the atmosphere. People can come there for a haircut, but they can also come for support, to talk things out. Once a customer opens up, Williams said he then has an opportunity to share his testimony.

“It’s not just a barbershop. It’s a place you can go to be healed and learn about life,” Williams said. “We cater to all God’s people. … Being there for younger people, I get to encourage them in their careers and give them direction towards college.”

In the future, he said he would like to take on more of a mentoring role at the shop and open the door for others looking to be successful. Working at the shop now is just he and 15-year veteran Ellis Williams.

“I have plans to expand my horizons and maybe make a way for other people,” he said. “Now I think the table is set for me to make room for other people who want to be successful.”

No matter what the future brings, Williams said he is sure of one thing: he will do what the Lord wants him to.

“The Lord is with me. He’s with me, and he said he’d never leave me nor forsake me,” Williams said. “It’s not slowing down. It’s growing. We’re growing in clientele every day.”