Kutz by KZ

Cassii Calaway - July 2024 Entrepreneur of the Month

The NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and North Iowa Area SBDC are proud to announce Cassii Calaway of Kutz by KZ in Mason City, IA as the July 2024 Entrepreneur of the Month.

When Cassii Calaway opened Kutz by KZ, a traditional barbershop in Mason City, he made good on his dream to own a business and make a positive impact in his community. Cassii said, “What inspired me to open my own business was the fact that I worked about 16-17 years in different restaurants and was never really able to fully provide for my family. I knew from day one when I went to barber school that I was going to have my own shop.” Kutz by KZ specializes in men’s and children’s haircuts, and provides a dedicated customer-focused service. Cassii believes his keen attention to his customers’ needs is part of what sets him apart from his competitors. “The best thing for me is to not worry about what the other places are doing,” he said. “I believe my customers would describe their experience here as a great experience. When they make their appointments, their appointments is their appointments and there's no wait for it. I make things fast and easy for them and they like it.”

Cassii began barbering in Mason City in 2014 and credits Don Lee of Don Lee’s Barber Shop as a valuable mentor. “He's a legend here in Mason City,” Cassii said. “He gave me my first shop while I was still in barber school so I already knew when I was done with school that I had to get my stuff together and be ready and be prepared.” When he was ready to take the next step on his entrepreneurial journey, Cassii worked with the NIACC Pappajohn Center & SBDC to make sure that he was ready to launch his own business. He said, “The Pappajohn Center gives you great advice, gives you great knowledge on things such as business plans and how to go about making your business fit for you so you can be successful.”

Cassii takes pride in offering a positive and efficient experience for his customers. His strong core values of power his business plan. His commitment to customer satisfaction, traditional barbering techniques, and community involvement sets Kutz by KZ apart as a cornerstone of Mason City's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Cassii credits his community for their support of Kutz by KZ, and is determined to support his community in his turn. He said, “My greatest reward of owning my own business is being able to provide for my children and my family and make things happen for other people with community work.” Cassii donates his time and experience to the Operation Golden Hawk Veterans Stand Down event in Mason City, provides free haircuts for veterans, and offers free back-to-school haircuts for students in the fall. He said, “I would have to say my biggest supporters along my journey are my wife and family, and then my community. Without my community I would not be open.”

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Cassii’s advice is clear. “The best advice I've ever got was trust the process and never panic.,” he said. “You're going to have your ups and downs but as long as you trust the process everything's going to work out because everything ain't good every day. You know there's rainy days. If you love what you do, do it. Don't listen to the outside world on your dreams because they're your dreams.”