Knott your average barbershop

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Customer Matt Hammons gets his hair cut by barber Kari Handlin (center) at Brian’s Barbershop in New Haven. Also pictured are owner Brian Knott and barber Kristie Worman. ROD KING

NEW HAVEN — Many of Brian Knott’s customers had never gotten a haircut from a female barber before visiting his shop in New Haven.

The profession, which specializes in cutting and styling men’s hair, facial shaves and facial hair grooming, has long been dominated by men. Brian’s Barbershop – which employs two female barbers – might just be the first of its kind in New Haven.

The three-chair shop, located at 446 Lincoln Highway West, is one of few area barbershops to provide hot lather, straight-razor trims of sideburns, ears and neck. It’s all in a day’s work for owner Knott and his staff.

Kristie Worman, who has been cutting men’s hair for the past 11 years, joined Brian’s two years ago. A New Haven High School graduation, she did her training at Rudaes Cosmetology School in Fort Wayne. Worman worked at Great Clips and Sport Clips where she was a manager before leaving the hair business for an office job.

“When I learned Brian was looking for another barber I jumped at the chance to return to barbering,” she said.

Kari Handlin, who now operates the third chair, is originally from Minnesota. She got her training and license in South Dakota. Before becoming a permanent barber at Brian’s, she substituted for Worman when necessary and was pleased to be asked to take the third chair when the shop moved to its new location.

“I always liked cutting, shaping and styling men’s hair, so when the opening became available I was eager to step in and am glad I did. I like the fact that this is a traditional barbershop that also does beard and mustache trims,” Handlin said.

As of late last year, there were four barbershops in town. Bob Kain (Bob’s Barbershop) retired and closed his Broadway shop for good as did Ned Bushy who had been cutting hair for many years on Broadway. Today, Brian’s Barbershop and RKR Style Shop are the only barbershops in town.

Knott, who attended barber school in Indianapolis, worked at Bob’s Barbershop before leaving the shop to pursue other interests for a few years. The New Haven native and New Haven High School graduate later decided to return to barbering and opened a shop in 2008 also on Broadway. Earlier this year, he moved to a more spacious shop in the Isenbarger Plaza and added a third chair.

“We’ve enjoyed increased business because of the additional chair and the fact that the new location affords customers more convenient parking right at the door,” he said.

Knott and Handlin are at the shop Tuesdays through Saturdays and Worman works Wednesdays through Saturdays. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays. No appointments are necessary