I love connecting with people in person and online. I started following an Athabascan barber and hairdresser, Kelley Baggerly, on Instagram (@kelleycuts). I enjoy seeing her adventures in Alaska, the work she does and times spent with family and friends. I reached out to learn more about her and she graciously agreed to an interview for the Athabascan Woman Blog.
Kelley is Koyukon Athabascan and was born and raised for most of her childhood in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her late mother, Thelma Cline, was from Nulato, Alaska. Her father, Tim Cline, came up to Alaska from Novato, California to teach music. Her maternal grandparents were Janet and Robert Stanley of Nulato. Kelley is a single mother of two children ages five and seven. She loves spending time with my family in Anchorage. Kelley enjoys being outside hiking, snowboarding and photography.
Kelley is constantly pushing to keep some of her Athabascan traditions alive by eating Alaska Native foods. She reads stories to her children, encourages them to get involved in Native events in Anchorage. Her son, Kaiyuh Nokinba, has a Koyukon Athabascan name. It was important to her to give her first child an Athabascan name so he always knew how proud we are of his Alaska Native heritage.
Kelley shares her love of music with her father. She feels her father’s love for music really brought the community of Nulato together. Kelley says, “I really think he impacted a lot of Native youth through his teaching and love for music.” At 18 years old, she got two small tattoos on her wrist in honor of her love of music; they were a small treble and bass clef.
Kelley continued to get other tattoos to signify different parts of her life, like her struggles and accomplishments, and to remember ones she has lost. Her love of tattoos continues and her most recent ones are some roses on her elbow she got Valentine’s Day. Kelley says, “They really are just a map of my life.”
At 17 years old, Kelley faced the devastating loss of her mother. Her family has helped her through that loss and in her current life as a single mother. She appreciates her supportive family and network in Anchorage. Kelley says, “Being able to count on them has helped me overcome the struggles of parenting alone.”
Kelley earned her hairdresser’s license in 2008 from the Academy of Hair Design. She worked as a hairdresser for about four years. Then, she became more interested in men’s haircutting and styling. She got a job at a barbershop on Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson (JBER) in 2012 to gain more experience on barbering skills. At that point, she was hooked and decided to switch her career from hairdressing to barbering. Nowadays, you can book appointments with her at the Razor Barbershop in Anchorage (907-349-2889).
In 2015, Kelley took the plunge and completed the hours to retake her state boards to become a licensed barber. She explained that being able to do straight razor shaves and use the straight razor on haircuts and designs is what sets a barber apart from a hairdresser. Kelley says, “The amount of skill that goes into barbering really drew me in, and the huge amount of talent in this industry really excited me.”
Being a successful business owner and being able to support her family is important to Kelley. It was not easy to accomplish and there were times when she made almost nothing cutting hair, but she persevered. Kelley is glad she stuck with it and continued to build relationships with clients. She has a chair rental at the current shop she works in and has an established clientele. Kelley says, “My clients are amazing. I would literally be nothing if none of them believed in me and trusted me to be consistent with their services behind the chair.”
“My advice for anyone getting into the industry is to stick it out, have self-discipline, and remember that hard work goes a long way!” – Kelley Baggerly, Koyukon Athabascan
Kelley encourages people to follow their dreams and says, “Education is key, never stop learning or pushing yourself.” She always knew she would work with people, but she did not realize how much she would love barbering. Barbering brought her a sense of community in Anchorage and beyond. She has begun to establish relationships with other barbers and hairdressers in other states.
Kelley recently attended Hairpalooza at the Razor Barbershop in San Antonio, Texas. Hairpalooza was a combination of a hair show and a competition. Kelley says, “While I didn’t compete, I was able to go behind the scenes and meet all the judges and teachers of the class we took the next day.”
Kelley says, “My love for this trade has opened many doors for me and has also given me to the opportunity to give back.” She has done haircuts for many local events with other local businesses. She volunteers to give free cuts to people in need when she can.
Kudos to Kelley for overcoming challenges and following her dreams with hard work and perseverance. I know it is not easy raising two children on her own and she is doing a great job raising and supporting them. Thank you Kelley for sharing your story and being an inspiration to others!