Our Story

Catalyst Barber Co. started off as a dream atop the Mosi-oa-tunya Falls in Livingstone, Zambia. It was there, staring 350 feet down over waters cascading the massive black basalt rock into the Batoka Gorge that owner, Les Washington Jr. had a vision...
    It was August 2017 and despite the fact that he was already an established barber in Kansas City, he was on the verge of losing his zest for the profession. So in attempts to rediscover purpose he booked a trip to Zambia, Africa, where he would live for the next 6 weeks off grid. Intentionally immersing himself in an entirely new environment full of beautiful landscapes and hospitable peoples, it wasn't difficult to find inspiration. He contemplated things like, "Who am I?", "What is my purpose?", "How can I be a positive impact on the world?" Then in the final week of this adventure atop the mystic falls, an epiphany and inner fire was discovered hiding in plain sight the entire time.

The Catalyst

All things start small like a seed, and the positive impact a barber makes in every person with something as simple as a haircut is much like that seed. The gratification both barber and client get in a good conversation, a funny joke, or thoughtful advice can change a persons day for the better, and one persons day changed at a time adds up to a world of impact. The purpose is to bring this change to the world intentionally and in doing so you will become a catalyst for a new world. A world more friendly, enthusiastic, and energetic.

Les found himself fueled by a purpose brimming with determination, demanding swift realization and immediate action. His vision was twofold: to manifest this newfound inspiration through the infusion of genuine human connection, prestige professionalism, and unparalleled practical service, all while embracing a contemporary street style. The second aspect involved creating a logo that would stand as a resolute beacon for all, accurately and simply representing the essence of "Catalyst."

In January 2019, the inaugural Catalyst Barber Co. emerged in a modest yet impactful 2-chair studio. Despite its size, the studio pulsated with a colossal heart, rapidly captivating the attention of potential clients and barbers alike through strategic use of social media, grassroots, and guerilla marketing. Clients discovered a haven for fresh fades, immaculate hairstyles, and indulgent steamy hot towel shaves. Meanwhile, barbers were drawn to an environment that prioritized not only client retention but also the continuous development of barbering skills.

    After two years of operating from a modest studio space, Catalyst Barber Co. made significant strides in the Northland and the broader Kansas City area. Recognizing the limitations of their small, inconspicuous studio, the team believed it would soon be time to transition into a more prominent storefront location. At that juncture, Catalyst Barber Co. had evolved into a thriving 4-chair studio, operational seven days a week with seven rotating barbers. They not only offered hair services but also sold custom products and popular sneakers.

 The success achieved in their initial compact space convinced them that a storefront would unlock even greater potential. So in August 2021, Catalyst Barber Co. moved to the heart of Gladstone in the Gladstone Village Center, bidding farewell to their former space with limited street visibility. 

    Today, Catalyst Barber Co. proudly boasts two locations. The first, a storefront in Gladstone, serves as their community home, featuring 11 licensed barbers, retail product sales, and Catalyst merchandise. It embodies the owner's envisioned atmosphere—a welcoming space for engaging communal conversations and shared laughter. The second location is the original studio in North Kansas City, transformed into a private headquarters. Here, clients can enjoy a more intimate, one-on-one setting, savor a complimentary drink from the bar, and have a professional photo taken against one of their backdrops.

  Catalyst Barber Co. transcends the traditional barbershop role, actively participating in the North Kansas City community through various programs. Initiatives include partnering with Cornerstones of Care to provide services to teens in transitional living, collaborating with the NKC School District Pathways Program for professional mentorship in high schools, and participating in the Park Hill School District AVID program, hosting teenage interns interested in barbering. Throughout its journey, Catalyst Barber Co. has remained true to its founding principles—to be a positive force, not only offering premium hair services but also inspiring everyone within its sphere. The goal is to be the change they seek in the world.

  As of November 2023, following an extensive nomination and voting process, Catalyst Barber Co. achieved recognition in two categories for the city of Kansas City: Best Barbershop and Best Barber (awarded to the talented Bezhin Barzinji). Despite their relative youth in the industry, there is a commitment to achieving more in the future...

 …and as we grow, Catalyst Barber Co. pledges to stay true to its roots and founding principles, continuously striving to be the change in the world of barbering and beyond in the Kansas City Region. 

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7221 N. Oak Trfy
Kansas City, MO 64118, US

About us

Kansas City, transform more than just your hair – elevate your entire grooming experience! Immerse yourself in an unparalleled atmosphere where skilled barbers and genuine camaraderie converge. This isn't just a haircut; it's a curated journey that resonates with your unique style. Step into the essence of Catalyst Barber Co., where authenticity meets excellence. Your destination for more than a fade, beard trim, or hot towel shave – it's a homecoming.

© 2024 Catalyst Barber Co.