Community volunteer launches Richmond hairstyling business

Highly-active community volunteer launches Richmond hairstyling business
Kristin K. Lobos in front of her business, KK's Haircuts and Henna Shop. (ALl photos by Mike Kinney)

By Mike Kinney

A Richmond resident well-known for her community volunteerism has opened a new local business offering services for which she’s also well regarded.

Kristin K. Lobos is owner of KK’s Haircuts and Henna Shop located at Bridge Artspace at 23 Maine St. in Richmond.

A hair care professional in the East Bay for over 30 years, Lobos’ first job was with top salon Peter Thomas Hair Design in Berkeley, where she was personally trained by Thomas in his apprentice program. She opened her first salon with a close friend in Albany in 1991. The salon was ahead of its time. Concerned over chemical exposure in the beauty industry, Lobos had researched ways to make the services chemical-free before natural products became mainstream.

After the salon’s building in Albany was sold and their lease was lost, Lobos worked in a few other locations, but always in her own space that can provide the environment for which her clients have grown accustomed.

A spirit of creativity inspired her decision to open her new studio at Bridge Storage & Artspace, a community haven for makers, artists and foodies.

“I love the community vibe here, and even though I can safely work alone with hair flow and COVID safety measures in place, I am able to be part of an amazing community of creative people,” Lobos said. “I have the best of both worlds, my own space, plus a dynamic talented group of people to interact with every time I walk outside. If COVID taught us anything, it’s that we need community for our health and wellbeing.”

Before opening her studio and prior to the pandemic, Lobos attended many community events at Bridge. “I’ve always loved coming down here. It’s a great place to visit or to work every day. So far, my clients really like my new spot,” she said.

Henna, a chemically-free all natural hair dye, plays an important role in her work.

“Because I don’t use any harsh chemicals, I became a specialist in natural hair color,” she said.

“I started using plant-based hair color years ago. It has its limitations, but it can also be amazing. It can also be the middle ground for women who choose to age gracefully, it can blend your gray in a really beautiful way. It’s nice to have peace of mind that I’m not harming anyone and it smells nicer too. The plant color combines henna, indigo and other herbs to create the different shades.”

Having her own business offers Lobos flexibility in other areas of her life. Lobos certainly knows how to fill her calendar to capacity. Along with volunteering for several local nonprofits, she is a busy mother and grandmother with a teenage daughter at home. In May last year, she graduated from Contra Costa College with two associate degrees, one in Health and Human Services and the other in Behavioral Science. 

She additionally serves on two Boards for the City of Richmond, including the Richmond Fund for Children and Youth Oversight Board and the Reimagine Richmond Public Safety Task Force.

While she adores her salon and clients, she’s not ready to give up on her years of activism, which was modeled by her mother.

“I come from a very politically active family,” she said, adding,  “None of this would be possible if I didn’t work for myself, or at least it would be much harder without being able to set my own schedule.”

People have asked Lobos if she plans on retiring from hairstyling to work for a nonprofit or as a counselor in a program. Lobos says she still enjoys working with her hands.

“Doing hair is my comfort zone, all the other community work is more of a challenge,” Lobos said.” It’s wonderful to keep learning and growing, and hopefully help others in  the process. I have many different things I can do that give my life meaning and purpose.”

KK’s Haircuts and Henna is located at Bridge Storage & ArtSpace, 23 Maine Ave. No. 751, Richmond, (510) 387-8874, [email protected].