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CLIPS: A quarter-century in, 'business is even better' at this Adams Morgan barbershop

Kofi Asante founded Eddie's Hair Creations in 1991 in Adams Morgan. It's still going strong

Kofi Asante moved in when the largest club for African and Caribbean music sat directly across from his shop; now it's a gym. But business is booming at Eddie's Hair Creations, now in its 24th year.
Welcome to our second installment of CLIPS: our barbershop series done in partnership with Metro Connection, the weekly audio news magazine on WAMU 88.5. Tune in to hear Kofi in his own words or listen online.

In 1991, when Kofi Asante opened Eddie's Hair Creations on Florida Avenue NW in Adams Morgan (the name is a long story), Adams Morgan was 44 percent black. That was still lower than most areas in D.C, which on average were about 65 percent. Still, directly across the street, where the Mint gym is now, was Kilamanjaro, the largest club for African and Caribbean music in the city. Asante figured it was the best place to hang up his shingle as a new, ambitious barber who was already gaining fame for his hi-tops (it was the 90s’ after all). “That’s how I made money. My name was BIG in the city,” he says.

“Then everything started changing,” Asante says. The club closed in the early 1990s. By the year 2000, Adams Morgan was 42 white. “I said, ‘we done.’” But to everyone’s surprise—not least Asante’s—the shop didn’t just survive, it thrived.

Enter Eddie’s Hair Creations on a weekday afternoon and you’ll still see a buzz (no pun intended) of activity. The small shop, decorated in red and white by Asante, employs five full-time barbers and a part-timer who works weekends. It’s packed with customers. “Business is even better,” Asante says.

He has cut the hair of celebrities - Michael Irvin, the football player. Embassy staffers. Usher, Asante says, comes to his shop when he’s in town. Asante says he’s cut Mos Def’s hair.

And he’s cut the hair of the common man - including people who have been coming for decades.

“These are my children,” he says. One customer says he’s been coming since age five. Why? 

“It’s my barber,” he says. “They do the best job.”

"Cutting hair is art"
Asante opened Eddie’s Hair Creations back when his name was Edward. That’s what his barber’s license still says, and what some of his customers still call him.

Asante changed his name back to Kofi—the name he was born with in Ghana 63 years ago—after converting to Rastafari.
“My identity has been restored,” he says. “I went back and reclaimed my African name.”

He came to the United States, attended college. College wasn’t for him, but barbering school—that worked out. He did so well that the school’s owner lent him money to open his barber shop. The owner of the building that became Eddie’s also lent him money, so impressed was he. “Everything was made by Jah,” Kofi says. “I didn’t have much, [but] I paid all them back.”

Asante and his staff do up to a hundred cuts a day.  “Me, in my prime, I used to cut myself about 25 a day.” Now, perhaps, not quite so many people get the personal Kofi touch, but don’t worry. “There’s a lot of me here. Everybody here learned from me.”

And that’s the plan. In about three years, he says, he’ll be ready to retire. Then, he says, he’s off to Ghana to teach barbering to a new generation. To give back, and to professionalize a profession that in much of the world is not thought of as art. "Cutting hair is art," he insists. "Barbers are artists."

Doesn’t he feel a little…old to be starting a barber school?  “A Rasta man don’t age. Age is not a problem for us,” he says. “I will live forever.”

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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