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Lady barber gives Richville a new business

Trisha Kawlewski has given the Richville community a barbershop after graduating from the Moler Barber College in Fargo. Brian Hansel/FOCUS1 / 3
Kawlewski sets up an appointment for one of her customers. Working from a shop at her rural home gives the master barber added flexibility. Brian Hansel/FOCUS2 / 3
The Richville Barber Shop is located on Jeff Lake Road south of the Otter Tail County community. Brian Hansel/FOCUS3 / 3

Trisha Kawlewski works and lives a short distance south of Richville on Jeff Lake Road. It is farming country with a nice mixture of hardwoods and lakes thrown in for pleasure.

The young Richville woman finds herself in a very enviable spot at this point in her life—she is doing exactly what she wants, exactly where she wants.

Kawlewski is a master barber, and while her Richville Barbershop is frequented mainly by men, she has also been doing some simple hair trims for female customers.

Growing up in the small town of Richville, Kawlewski was one of 11 children who could be found around the Wagon Wheel Store, a business owned by her parents. Many of the same people who watched her grow up are now her customers.

Kawlewski has been back in business for herself since July after graduating from the Moler Barber School in Fargo where the only other female in her class was her instructor. A 2014 graduate of Perham High School, she ran a boutique in Perham for two years before deciding to follow her sisters, Tara and Tina, into the barbering business.

While some might find cutting men's hair outside a small town in Otter Tail County to be an unusual pursuit for a young lady, Kawlewski is enjoying it immensely. One of the biggest perks is having her shop attached to her ranch-style home. All she has to do to reach one from the other is walk through a door.

Kawlewski has been able to give haircuts at both 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. By carrying a smartphone with her she can take calls whether she is outside caring for her horses, working in her yard or tending to paperwork in her home.

She also has an online booking system on Facebook that has been a hit.

"By checking it, it'll show you when I am available," said Kawlewski.

Haircuts, beard trims, shampoos and straight razor shaves can all be found in her shop. Shaves include hot towels and hot lather which some men consider a luxury. Her hair-cutting talents also make her popular with the wives of some men who have had the task thrust upon them.

A haircut might take Kawlewski 15-20 minutes and a beard trim might take a bit longer. Straight razor shaves are something Kawlewski would like to do more.

Since she grew up around most of her male customers, the talk is free and familiar.

"I do love the conversations with some of them," she laughed. "We talk about anything and everything. It's different. I love it though. It's right up my alley."

Kawlewski said that "about 99 percent" of her male customers are great to deal with. One insight she has gained is that while most men "don't like appointments" they do appreciate being reminded if they have one to keep.

Kawlewski gave some thought to opening her shop in Perham but Richville, nine miles away, is her home. With a population of fewer than 100 people, there is a feeling of family in Richville that really appeals to her.

She wanted Richville to have a barbershop as much as Richville wanted her. When she decided to build a sidewalk to her shop some of her neighbors came over and put it in for her.

"They told me they wanted to see me succeed," she smiled.