HER Ca­reer

Help­ing the com­mu­nity one hair­cut at a time

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - CONTENTS - Story by Lindsey Wells, pho­tog­ra­phy by Richard Rass­mussen and sub­mit­ted

Award-win­ning and mul­ti­tal­ented hair de­signer Guy Burks is com­mit­ted to help­ing the com­mu­nity one hair­cut at a time, a ges­ture that came about af­ter his own eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with drug ad­dic­tion and im­pris­on­ment.

Burks be­gan his ca­reer as a hair stylist in Kansas City in 1986 and moved to Hot Springs in 1993. Since his move to the Spa City, he has be­come known for the magic he works on women’s hair, though he said he also does men’s hair­cuts.

“I do men’s hair but I do more women. I don’t have any prob­lem with do­ing a man’s hair­cut, and that could cer­tainly be some­thing that could be done, but I’m just known for women’s hair cut­ting. There was a pe­riod in my ca­reer that I only did women’s hair, for 15 years, so peo­ple just think I don’t do men’s hair, but I do,” he said.

Burks has re­ceived in­ter­na­tional awards for his hair styling and cut­ting. He cur­rently works at Al­lure Sa­lon, 4328-L Cen­tral Ave. in Tem­per­ance Hill Square, a space that he him­self owned for 16 years.

“I owned this sa­lon, which makes it ex­tra spe­cial. I owned it for 16 years and it was called Guy and Com­pany. Be­cause of my ad­dic­tion I had to sell it, and I did two years ago,” he said.

His drug ad­dic­tion landed him in jail for a pe­riod of nine months in 2016. He has now been home and sober since De­cem­ber 2016.

“I re­cently had a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to work at a sa­lon, Ah Shek, and it was a huge step­ping­stone for me and I’m ex­tremely grate­ful, but this is mine. I don’t own (Guy and Com­pany) any­more but this is mine and I feel like I have in­vested in­ter­est here and I just treat it com­pletely dif­fer­ent. There’s a whole lot of me in this build­ing and it feels re­ally good to come to work,” Burks said.

Dur­ing his re­cov­ery, Burks be­gan do­ing hair in lo­cal re­habs and dis­cov­ered that his own re­cov­ery was strength­ened through hear­ing other peo­ple’s sto­ries of ad­dic­tion and re­demp­tion.

“It helped a lot to hear their sto­ries, and I could hope­fully help them to hear mine, be­cause my life was par­al­lel in some ways. But I found that so many peo­ple weren’t ap­pre­cia­tive and I wanted to get to the peo­ple that were re­ally try­ing, es­pe­cially women, be­cause I mainly do women’s hair,” he said.

Burks cre­ated the New Hair, New Start pro­gram as a way to give back to the com­mu­nity, work off his

“It helped a lot to hear their sto­ries, and I could hope­fully help them to hear mine, be­cause my life was par­al­lel in some ways.”

own court fines, and help women in the court sys­tem as an award for their progress. Since the pro­gram’s in­cep­tion in Oc­to­ber, he has given out about $5,000 in hair­cut vouch­ers.

“I’ve met so many peo­ple along the way, as in Judge Switzer, as in peo­ple at the sher­iff’s depart­ment, as in re­hab co­or­di­na­tors, the court sys­tem, pro­ba­tion of­fi­cers, so I’ve given out these cer­tifi­cates for them to give to women that are re­ally going the ex­tra mile and try­ing to get clean and sober,” said Burks.

His most re­cent hair­cut was given to Wendi Barfield, a re­cent grad­u­ate from The Hope Move­ment, a pro­gram ded­i­cated to help­ing women move for­ward from a life of ad­dic­tion. Burks said that Barfield now runs one of the Qua­paw House safe houses for women just get­ting out of prison.

“So, I’ve given her two cer­tifi­cates and she’ll give them out as peo­ple show that they’re re­ally do­ing a good job. I give them out to peo­ple like that, and to the court. It’s up to ad­min­is­tra­tion at the dif­fer­ent places. It just feels good,” he added.

When asked what a hair­cut or new hair­style does for a woman, Burks said, “Ev­ery­body loves a good hair­cut. Noth­ing makes a woman feel good if their hair doesn’t look good. They walk out of here with a huge smile, great grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion, and I walk away hear­ing their story which only makes my life — be­cause we have par­al­lel lives — it only makes my re­cov­ery stronger and gives me a chance to re­ally help, and see the smiles on their faces. And they con­tin­u­ally come in and I hear about their lives and how they’ve changed and their spir­i­tu­al­ity and it only re­in­forces my re­cov­ery.”

Burks went through his own treat­ment pro­grams while in jail, one of them be­ing the al­co­hol and drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram. He also prides him­self on ob­tain­ing his GED.

“When I be­came a hair­dresser in 1986 I didn’t need a GED. I quit high school my se­nior year be­cause of bul­ly­ing back in 1981 and I just never needed it; I went into hair. I don’t know if I’ll ever use it but it feels re­ally good to have it, and I got to tell you, wait­ing that many years, be­cause I’m 54 now, all of the math and study­ing — it was hard. It was re­ally hard. But I’m very proud of that,” he said.

Burks added that while in jail he also took a Get­ting Ahead While Get­ting Out class, a re-entry pro­gram de­signed for peo­ple who are re­turn­ing to their com­mu­ni­ties from cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties and jails. The class teaches par­tic­i­pants how to cre­ate a path to a more sta­ble, se­cure fu­ture for them­selves and their fam­i­lies.

Since his re-entry into so­ci­ety af­ter his in­car­cer­a­tion, Burks has sim­ply been en­joy­ing a sober life, work­ing on his re­cov­ery, and do­ing what he loves: hair.

“Ev­ery­body else can see when you have a drug prob­lem, even when you think they don’t. So many peo­ple have come up to me this year and truth­fully told me — good peo­ple have said, ‘We re­ally thought the next time we would see you, you would be in the obituaries.’ And I hear it daily, ‘You look so good.’ And that, again, only re­in­forces my re­cov­ery,” Burks said.

Guy burks and Wendi barfield

Guy burks and Judge Mered­ith Switzer

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