TR Robertson – There’s a new barber shop in Vista, but it’s not like any other barber shop you have ever seen before. This was owner Donnell Hilliard’s purpose when he made a big step to open his own barbershop after spending years and years working in other barbershops owned by other people. The result of his perseverance is Kingdom Kutz, located at 101 S. Indiana Ave. in Downtown Historic Vista. The barbershop has been opened since November 1st.
Donnell, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, said he received his first set of clippers when he was 14. He has been cutting hair for 22 years, 17 of those in the North County area, working primarily at East to West. This also led to starting a barbershop in Oceanside, called In the Cut, with a partner, unfortunately this partnership didn’t work out. What this did though was convince Donnell that he wanted to start his own barbershop, creating everything from the ground floor up, including a distinctive atmosphere and style all his own. What patrons will see when they enter Kingdom Kutz is a unique, welcoming, powerful statement that says you are in for a great haircutting experience the minute you enter the door to Donnell’s dream.
Kingdom Kutz is in the historic bank building in Downtown Historic Vista, first opened in 1928 as the first National Bank of Vista, directly across from the gazebo parking lot on Indiana Ave. He said Julie and Dave Lowen, the building owners, has been extremely accommodating and helpful in getting Kingdom Kutz open. He has a 5-year lease, with a possible 5-year extension, indicating Donnell is here to become an active member of the downtown area. Meeting a few the business owners, Donnell said they have been positive and welcoming, adding that he wants to become an active member of the community.
Everything Kingdom Kutz offers will be available on a QR code, as well as making reservations. Donnell emphasized that the “customers matter the most. The most important one is the customer sitting in the barber chair and he wants to stress the quality of service, not the quantity.” He offers not only great haircuts but provides hot towels and razor shaves as well as beard trimming.
After graduating high school Donnell served in the Army for almost three years before receiving an honorable medical discharge. During his time as a barber, he has also taught at the Associated Barber College in downtown San Diego. While there he helped design a program about the business side of running a barbershop and all that is entailed in doing that. He feels the amount of time he has been a barber in the North County area has allowed him to develop a loyal following with a sizable data base of contacts. Donnell said customer retention is important and with comments on his web page like; “Best barber in North County”, “Always provides great service”, and “A professional”, will go a long way in both continuing his following and establishing a new clientele.
The bold color scheme you will see when you enter the barber shop is the striking black barber chairs trimmed in gold metal. But the most dominant feature you will first notice is the incredible wall murals on the back wall of half of a male lion’s face on one side and half of a tiger’s face on the other, separated by an entrance leading to the rest room on one side and the shampoo area on the other. Painted on the back wall just past the entrance is a large fleur de lis, alluding back to his New Orleans, Louisiana, background. The murals were designed by Donnell and painted by Oceanside artist BB. Donnell was passionate about establishing the lion, tiger, and fleur de lis as a powerful, dominant symbol for his barbershop. He said he always had this in mind if he was ever able to open his own place. He was so sure this would happen one day that on his back he had a large fleur de lis with a tigers face inside of the design tattooed on his back. He said making those who enter his shop feeling empowered is important to him.
He is also the proud owner of a Golden Retriever named Charlie and a French Bulldog named Tank (a gift to his girlfriend). A sports lover, playing in high school and the military, two large T.V.’s hanging on the wall of the barbershop will always be playing some sort of athletic event. The barbershop will be open six days a week, Mon.-Fri. 9am-8pm and Saturday 9am-5pm, closed Sundays. For more information Google Kingdom Kutz and click on their web site listing on the right or for social media go to @1kingdom.kutz or call 760-295-0637. If you walk by the barbershop, you can download the QR code listing on the window.
This is a new business in Downtown Historic Vista you will want to stop in, introduce yourself and look at the beautiful designs on the wall. Oh, by the way, if you need a haircut, this is a great place to have that done.