Eoghan Holdahl – Staff Writer
Last year as Ben Schmidt, then an RA in East Hall, made his rounds, he often came across a lineup of guys outside the kitchenette. Inside, Kolton Korthuis wielded a pair of scissors while trimming away at a student’s hair.
Korthuis decided to start his haircutting business, Kolton’s Custom Clips, after a conversation he had at the end of high school. He was worried about where he would manage to get a haircut, so he asked his father.
“There’s usually just a guy in the dorms who cuts hair,” Kolton’s father said.
Then the idea struck him.
“I want to be that guy,” he said.
Korthuis started out cutting his roommate’s hair, but now his clientele is composed of over a hundred students. According to him, “The ingrained business mindset is, ‘How can I take a hobby and make money from it.’”
With that mindset he has continued to develop his business for the last four years with the analytical practicality his friends know him for. Every haircut Korthuis has done is meticulously recorded in a large Excel spreadsheet.
In the spreadsheet he had listed every client’s major and emphasis, which serves as a talking point for the half-hour he cuts their hair. He also has a description of what instructions they had for a haircut and when it occurred. This is indispensable knowledge for remembering which client is which.
“I’ll be cutting, you know, five different guys with the same name Tyler. Sometimes I get them mixed up,” Korthuis said. “I have a Nick Veldhorst and a Nick Veldhuizen.”
Kolton has had an eye for business since he was around eight or nine years old growing up in Lyndon, WA. In second grade his class raised chickens. This inspired his first business, which he shared with his brother. Raising chickens taught him how to be cost effective—he grew his own corn instead of purchasing feed. More importantly, it taught him how to network and gather clientele.
The advertisements he put up in the dorm buildings, while eye-catching, were only one way of getting the word out. He has since expanded his presence with posts on Instagram, which the RAs cannot take down like the unapproved advertisements hanging in the dorms.
“A lot of the RAs were hesitant when I first started cutting hair in the dorms, and they were like, ‘I don’t know about this,’” Kolton said. “And then in a couple weeks I was cutting probably 85% of the RAs’ hair.”
As he nears graduation, Kolton has considered continuing Kolton’s Custom Clips on the weekends while he pursues his full-time career. His passion is in construction management, which, he says, is hard to start your own business in until you have some experience. While he’ll probably put Kolton’s Custom Clips on hold temporarily, he says the mindset will continue to benefit and steer him toward self-employment.