Female barber cuts down gender barriers

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When you meet Brenda Gutierrez, there’s no indication that the small, demure woman is one who has broken gender barriers in the work force. Having served in the Army, she went on to become a welder at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard and later a barber, who has recently opened a shop in Bixby Knolls.
And when she tells you of her educational and professional journeys, you get the sense that she’s conquered these male-dominated jobs with modesty, lots of hard work and an attitude of “Why not?”

Do you like having a shop in Bixby Knolls?
I love having my shop in Bixby Knolls, the area I grew up in as a child, having attended elementary, middle and high school within the vicinity. I have lived in Bixby Knolls for over 25 years. I just love the neighborhood because it is family oriented and business friendly. I feel positive to be a part of the revitalization of the new businesses. The B.K. is alive and well and full of vibrant places to see and things to do.
As a child, living in Long Beach, we used to go to the movies to the old Towne & Crest Theaters in Bixby Knolls. I have shared with my customers about the many places to go to in Bixby Knolls. and I am proud to be a part of the community as a resident and now new business owner. I am particularly pleased to belong and participate in the Bixby Knolls Business Association. The members make you feel welcomed, are kind and, most of all, are supportive.

At what other locations have you had barber shops?
Immediately after graduation, I passed the state board (exam) and began working with my stepfather at his business in Gardena. I found an ad for a barber shop for sale in Hollydale. I called, made an appointment, met the owner and we made a deal. He stayed on with the business for a short period of time and then retired. It was a challenge at first being in a male-dominated business/profession. The customers were used to having a hot lather, cleanup, shave around their neck and ears after their haircut. I would do up to three to four hot-lather, facial shaves a day. I was five years into the business when, in the wee hours, a fire broke out in one of the businesses that were within the property. It caused heavy damage and I had to relocate.
I relocated to North Long Beach and I had a very good following and stayed at the second shop for 17 years. The building owner sold the property to the City of Long Beach, as they plan to build a new fire station. I have been so fortunate that my long-time customers have continued to follow me, now to Bixby Knolls. They love the new shop and the area and I love and appreciate that they have been my customers, supporting me through the years. They have always been most supportive and always wanting me to succeed, I must take this opportunity to thank them for not only their business but most importantly their support and friendship. I was lucky enough to find my new location with the help of customers, giving me leads of “for rent/lease” signs.

Was there any particular course of study you went for at Long Beach City College?
I completed a four-year apprentice program provided by the federal government in partnership with Long Beach City College. I succeeded in achieving the status of journeyman level welder. I worked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard as a welder for five years. I worked on two battleships…..the USS Missouri and USS New Jersey. Once the USS New Jersey was completed and it was ready to be commissioned, President Reagan visited the shipyard to commission the battleship. It was such an amazing and exciting event and I felt so proud of being an observer of the event and knowing I had been a part of the team that overhauled the ship.
Shortly thereafter, the shipyard and other shipyard locations were placed on the “to be closed down” list. I decided to return to school and made the decision to go to barber college. I continued to work at the shipyard but requested to work the graveyard shift. It would allow me to attend barber college during the day. I would report to the shipyard by midnight, showered at the end of my eight-hour shift and then I would attend barber college classes. I continued the schedule for a year or better until I completed the course, and I was a graduate with honors. I had a strong desire to become a barber and I was determined to finish, which I did.

What was the high achievement award you received at Rosston School of Men’s Hair Design?
In order to achieve the honor status, it required the student to do additional work for additional credits. Some of the projects included bookkeeping and mathematical problems, which I would would solve usually with a perfect score. I can say many of the additional assignments really assisted me once I opened my own barber business.

What celebrities’ hair have you done?
On several occasions, I have cut the hair of Middleweight Champion of the World Fernando Vargas. I was introduced and invited to the training center in Big Bear where Vargas and Oscar De La Hoya were in training. K-Earth 101 oldies station D.J. Huggy Boy, a person we all remember and a great guy who recently passed. One of the original cast members from the series The Little Rascals. One of the original singers from the Ink Spots.

What distinguishes your shop from others like it?
I have maintained the feeling of an old-fashioned barbershop experience. I don’t operate a beauty salon; it really is a barbershop. A guy can feel comfortable with the sports TV programs. Everyone interacts with each other about sports, news and whatever may be on their mind. My customers are all special and no matter how long they have been my customers, I always let them know how much I appreciate their business.

Brenda’s Hair Design for Men is located at 4144 Business Street in Bixby Knolls (between San Antonio Drive and Carson Street). Walk-ins are welcome, or call (562) 997-8700.

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