Kenny Duncan @kduncangrooming has worn many hats throughout his barbering career: co-owner of Main Attraction Unisex Salon in West Philadelphia, national platform educator, creative lead for Andis, touring barber for the musicians’ of Lady Gaga and Adele and on set barber for major motion pictures; but one of his most rewarding efforts is giving back to the community. 

Duncan started the nonprofit in 2013 with the goal of raising the self esteem of the youth through grooming. Barbershops are cornerstones in urban communities and the best conduits of information and fellowship. 

Each year since its inception, approximately 25-27 Philadelphia-area barbers gather to host a back-to-school event that provides free haircuts and school supplies to hundreds of underprivileged kids in the community. During the rest of the school year, every quarter, the group adopts a grade school and provides free haircuts. “We select grade schools because those are formidable years for kids where self esteem and self confidence are built,” says Duncan. “We want to help make sure every child feels good about themselves.”

Kenny Duncan, NBA Barber and NAHA Finalist, Keeps Giving Back
Kenny Duncan, NBA Barber and NAHA Finalist, Keeps Giving Back

Barbers Who Care also partners with other charities such as the Bethesda Project to broaden their reach and assist those in need with coat drives, and more recently because of Covid, access to masks, personal protection equipment and other essentials. 

The charity will be getting more national exposure in spring of 2022. Duncan revealed he recently filmed a one-on-one segment with Philly native and comedian Kevin Hart for his streaming show Hart to Heart on Peacock and on YouTube’s The Hart of It All. The latter program teaches and focuses on financial health.   

Kenny Duncan, NBA Barber and NAHA Finalist, Keeps Giving Back
Kenny Duncan, NBA Barber and NAHA Finalist, Keeps Giving Back

Duncan (left) joins comedian Kevin Hart to speak with local youths. 

Holding Court

Barbers Who Care has also brought good karma to Duncan who is now the official barber of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA team. As he tells it, Duncan credits three scenarios that aligned for his affiliation with the team. First, Marquis Watson, the manager of team partnerships was his client and Duncan was referred to the team by other clients; second, the 76ers partnered with Barbers Who Care to provide 76ers backpacks to the back to school event and; third, the 76ers had a losing record and hard time selling tickets. 

In 2015 for his 34th birthday, Duncan and his friends–mostly other barbers–bought a club box at the Wells Fargo Center to celebrate and watch the basketball game.

As the group began to thoroughly enjoy the game atmosphere and post to social media, the 76ers front office realized the influence of the barbers and saw it as a way to increase ticket sales to home games.

Duncan also helped the team score a sponsor as well. In addition, the team allowed more than 200 barbers to hold a basketball tournament on their home floor. Barber shops played against each other with teams of three and reserves. It was a boon for ticket sales. The following year, for Duncan’s 35th birthday, the team declared it “barber appreciation night.”

Kenny Duncan, NBA Barber and NAHA Finalist, Keeps Giving Back
Kenny Duncan, NBA Barber and NAHA Finalist, Keeps Giving Back

Soon thereafter, Duncan had his own barber chair in the 76ers practice facility. Prior to Covid, aside from cutting his personally contracted players’ hair, he was contracted by the team for a full day of work every two weeks. On those days, cuts were provided on a first come first served basis, but there was a hierarchy of priority: starting players, reserve players, coaches then auxiliary associates. Duncan says, “when you look good, you play better.”

For the Win

No stranger to the underdogs, Duncan carries that theme into his NAHA 2022 Barber of the Year Finalist nomination. The collection Fighting For Equality features minority men brandishing multiple textures, cuts and personalized styling. “I personally picked the models because I wanted to show diversity in skill while depicting a deeper story. I used the fighting theme because success in the ring, and in life all requires preparation both physically and mentally. Success doesn’t care what your background is, it only requires your ability to perform in the present,” says Duncan.

The 2022 NAHA Awards will take place January 30, 2022 in Long Beach, CA.

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Photos: 76ers by Kenny Duncan

Kevin Hart by Chris Clarke                  

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