Queer Style: Barbershop Owner Magda Ryczko On Creating An Inclusive Space

Lesbian barbershop owner opens up about her future plans, where she goes to relax & how she does it all.

Magda RyczkoPhoto by Heather Cullum

Magda Ryczko, owner of Hairrari Barber Salon’s, became a barber out of the blue with no concrete plans of where it would take her. Now she owns three thriving barbershops in NYC and Brooklyn with plans to expand nationally in the near future. Hairrari Barber Salon’s aren’t like typical hyper-masculine shops that often have a stiff and inaccessible vibe, especially for queer and trans folx. Ryczko has created a new kind of barber shop that is welcome to everyone who wants an amazing cut. The consistency in amazing talent comes from Ryczko’s passion to train every barber who works for her — she describes her current team as the best she’s had.

I met Ryczko at the Wythe Hotel restaurant in Williamsburg on a chilly January afternoon. Over tomato soup and grilled cheese, we talked about why queer hairstyles are so important, how hair can help represent to the world who you are, and how she deals with the current political climate. Get to know the badass woman behind these effortlessly cool barbershops.

Photo by Heather Cullum

GO Magazine: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got into styling hair? I read that you’re self taught.

Magda Ryczko: 12 years ago, I went to hair school to be a hair dresser but I never thought of barbering. I was assisting at like 12 salons and I wasn’t learning that much– I was just shampooing. Randomly, someone I met at a bagel shop told me I should try to barber.

I went to apply at a barbershop in Williamsburg, but I thought it was weird because I’m a woman. But then I saw the owner inside, who happened to be a woman. She took a chance on me and I started working there.

When I opened my own barbershop, I trained so many women. It kind of paved a way for all these women barbers. Now, I’m thinking of opening new locations nationally.

GO: Yeah, I hear so many stories of queer people going to a barbershop and getting judged or not getting what they’re looking for. Can you speak to queer hairstyles and what it means to queer folx to have someone who understands what they’re looking for cutting their hair?

MR: Well, I think that when I opened the shop — it wasn’t a queer barbershop. But since I’m a lesbian I attracted a lot of different people. All of my clients range from everyone old people, babies, men, women, trans people. Because I’m very diverse in my friends and community — and then when we did attract more LGBTQ people, we created ads around that to spread the word.

Queer haircuts, in my opinion, are not super feminine or not super masculine — it’s something in the middle. It’s important to ask people cause sometimes they might look feminine on the outside, but they might want something masculine to represent how they feel on the inside. Everyone is an individual, everyone is unique. I think those kind of haircuts, something edgy, something versatile.

Photo by Heather Cullum

GO: Can you talk about your creative process when cutting and styling hair?

MR: Yeah, I think it’s really fun. To me, I love it because it helps people represent who they are to the world. I can’t wear something that’s not my style — clothing or hair. When people come in, I ask them questions in a sensitive way to help get an idea of what they’re looking for. I really enjoy it, and I care about people.

A lot of the people working for me came in with zero skills.  I train them to really care about their clients. I put a lot into my brand and business from barbering to counseling people to preparing them for big life moments. I’m teaching not just barber skills, but how to deal with people.

GO: Yeah, it’s such an intimate experience, cutting hair.

MR: Exactly, so a lot of positivity. We’re very intentional about our space and I make sure that we cover things like pronoun sensitivity in the employee handbook and have these conversations with clients. That’s really important to me.

From consultation, to customer service, to styling. I feel like I’m a life coach sometimes [laughs]. We just want to provide an awesome place for people to come to with good energy. It’s important to me to do something with meaning in this world, no matter how small it is.

GO: Absolutely, I mean, even the fact that you’re showing through example to other women that we can own our own businesses. 

MR: Anybody can as long as they put in the work. Quality brings quantity.

Photo by Heather Cullum

GO: I’m wondering if you have any advice for queer and trans folx who live in more rural areas on how they might be able to get the haircuts they want and are looking for. How can they navigate that conversation with a barber or hair stylist who doesn’t understand their identity?

MR: Maybe just exposing them to other barbershops and photos — hopefully they want to grow and just don’t know yet. Possibly show them other barbershops Instagram’s that support queer people. Even YouTube is a great resource.

GO: Yeah, I saw you even use YouTube to train your employees.

MR: That’s what I’m working on. A training program that people in other states can take and travel with it. It would be awesome to go to areas that are more rural and bring these queer friendly trainings. I just feel like nobody should be left out.

GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling depleted?

MR: I read a lot and try to relax. I like to get massages. I try to walk around and remember how fortunate I am. Or I talk to my friends. There’s so many things to be thankful for, like I’m so grateful for everyone who works for me. They’ve all become my good friends.

Photo by Tina Zarbaliev

GO: As an immigrant lesbian woman, how do you continue to stay hopeful in Trump’s America which is continually so oppressive?

MR: Honestly, I don’t really watch the news. I just think about in my own world, how do I help in my small way? I feel like since I’ve been in this career, I’ve done a lot of work to inspire people to take up this profession. I like to focus on positivity and what I can give. To me, I just like to help people however I can. One person at a time. One step at a time.

GO: What is the vibe of your shops? What can people expect the first time they go in if they’re feeling a little bit nervous?

MR: I try to create a very friendly and personable vibe. I make sure everyone is welcomed and offered a drink. Consideration is really important, like not rushing with clients.

Photo by Heather Cullum

GO: What are some future goals?

MR: Right now I’m working on coming out with new products, maybe skincare. And hopefully the online training school, doing some traveling in-person classed and opening some new locations!

Follow Hairrari Barber Salon’s on Instagram

Hairrari Bushwick
206 Bushwick Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Btwn Scholes St and Meserole St
P: 347-689-3363

Monday – Friday 12pm – 8pm
Saturday – Sunday 12pm – 8pm

Manetamed Williamsburg
41 Havemeyer St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Btwn N 7th St and N 8th St
P: 347-799-1849

Monday – Friday 12pm – 8pm
Saturday – Sunday 12pm – 8pm

Hairrari East Village
34 E 1st St
New York, NY 10003
Btwn 1st Ave and 2nd Ave
P: 917-388-2114

Monday – Friday 12pm – 8pm
Saturday – Sunday 12pm – 8pm