Barber in her 80's continues to serve the Fresno community

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011218-kfsn-barber-fresno-community-vid_1 (KFSN)

A Fresno woman has served her community cutting hair for over four decades and she does not have plans to stop anytime soon.

Bettye Luiz, 87, is the owner of Shields & West Barber Shop in Central Fresno. She opened up her shop back in 1977. However, her journey to becoming a barber began in the 1940s.

"I was a kid and did field work, my face looking at the ground and the sun. I told my dad I don't want this life," she explained. "I want something better. I wanted to be a barber."

Luiz mentioned back then a woman barber was not the norm.

"When I told (my dad) I wanted to be a barber he had a fit, " she recalled. "It was alright to be a beautician but not a barber. I said I don't get along with women. I want men".

She did not let that stop her and Luiz eventually opened up her very own barbershop.

With a smile on her face as she laughed Luiz said, "Everything in here is mine, it's junk, but it's mine."

Her customers are a priority and coming from a family with very little, she decided haircuts should be reasonably priced. She hasn't changed the price since.

"I'm not saying my people are poor, my customers. But they go out here-- there is no work for them now, they got kids to raise, houses to pay for, cars to buy, supporting the children and instead of paying $11, $12, $15 for a kids haircut they can come get it for $4," she said.

Haircuts for those in the military are $3, kids and seniors are $4, and working men can get a haircut for $4.

She hopes this leaves her clients with a little bit of extra money to spend on family or bills.

Luiz said being a barber and owner for so many years her loyal employees and customers have turned into family.

"I worked in other places before and here she's my mom, she's my mom. She's done a lot for me. She's helped me with my business because I work outside of here," said employee Debbie Ponce.

Ponce adding Luiz is a tough boss but well worth it.

"I'm proud (to work here) because there are a lot of people who really can't afford a haircut, like some of the farmer workers, " Ponce noted.

Shields & West Barber Shop is open every day and Luiz is typically there in the morning. When asked how long she plans on cutting hair for she responded with "until I die".

While she does not cut hair every day she still does once in a while.

Luiz reiterated while running a business can be hard and it comes with its struggles she credits her success came from her loyal customers and great employees.
Related Topics:
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