Rutgers barbershop 23Cuts finds novel way to raise money for charity

Ronit Hemrajani, engineering senior at Rutgers, started ’23 Cuts’ a barber shop that cuts hair for raising money for charity. His partners in the non-profit are Dhruv Patel and Brian Yeung, also seniors at Rutgers. (Photo courtesy Ronit Hemrajani)

Just before leaving home to attend his engineering class one morning, Ronit Hemrajani, a senior at Rutgers, got a call from a fellow student asking for haircut to look all spruced-up for work. Hemrajani obliged him with a “High Skin Fade” and then left for school.

The “High Skin Fade” is exactly what it sounds like – parts where the hair is trimmed so close to the scalp that the skin shows and then fades into longer growth. There’s also just the regular “Skin Fade.”

Getting a haircut is expensive business even for an average employed person.

For students especially, it is a regular drain on their meager finances. So having someone around campus willing to give you one in exchange for a donation to charity, is a godsend. Which may explain the word-of-mouth success of Hemrajani’s 23Cuts. Started as a fun project and a way to meet people and make friends, Hemrajani, Dhruv Patel, and Brian Yeung, are enjoying their non-profit venture out of their ‘House No. 23″. His free barber shop is becoming somewhat of a landmark.

In an interview with Desi Talk, Hemrajani repeated several times that he was still learning what he started at home by experimenting on his father with a pair of clippers. “My Dad liked to cut his hair almost completely off – so he got clippers and I used to always cut his hair. I also began trying it on my hair,” Hemrajani said.

Soon his friends began asking him to do their cuts. “I Googled the steps and tried those on them during the Summer. They didn’t mind how it came out or if it was ruined because they could always wear a hat,” he said.

“Our main goal is to hold a fundraiser at the end of this month. Sell T-Shirts to raise money as well and donate to a charity,” Hemrajani said.

The three barbers do about 10 haircuts a week or more. “But it all depends on the school schedule and our free time. School comes first,” said the Indian-American who was born in Queens, N.Y., and grew up in Old Bridge, N.J., since he was 7. Starting a business in not on his horizon right now. “Last week there was a frat party and everyone wanted a haircut,” he said.

They also do facial hair, eyebrows, top of hair. You name it, they’ll do it. “Different people want different things. Sometimes they show us a picture of what they want, and we try.”