New Element Barber Provides an Experience Unlike Any Other
Writer / Seth Johnson
Photographer / Michael Durr
For Antwain Booker, owner of New Element Barber – an Indianapolis mobile barbershop, there’s a lot more to being a good barber than cutting hair.
“Guys come in, and they may have been broken up with,” says Booker, who’s known to many by his nickname, Kuts. “There’s always something that a guy wants to come in and talk to you about, but when they leave the chair they feel like a different person. That’s what I like about cutting hair.”
The owner and founder of New Element Barber, Booker cuts hair around the city in his own mobile barbershop. In addition to Booker’s professional barber setup, his stripped-out RV features its own bathroom and waiting room, providing customers with a unique barbershop experience. Each week Booker stations his mobile barbershop at different locations around Central Indiana, including Broad Ripple on Mondays, Fountain Square on Thursdays, Fishers on Fridays (oftentimes at the parking lot of Four Day Ray), Carmel on Saturdays and Zionsville on Sundays.
Having cut hair since the age of 13, Booker realized he wanted to be a barber while attending college at Indiana State University. While there, he was also given the nickname Kuts, which has stuck ever since.
“I was at Indiana State, and I used to have flyers called ‘Kuts by Twain,’” Booker says. “I was at football practice one day, and they said, ‘We’re just going to start calling you Kuts. You cut everybody’s hair on campus.’”
When Booker moved to Indianapolis, he first started cutting hair professionally in 2002 at Craig’s Creations at 49th Street and College Avenue.
“That’s always been my area,” Booker says of the Broad Ripple neighborhood.
After working at several other barbershops around the area, however, he eventually decided it was time to start his own business.
“A good friend told me, ‘Go home. Save your money up. You have good clientele. You’ll do fine,’” Booker says.
With this notion in mind, Booker started New Era Barber out of his home in 2010 before eventually deciding to build his own mobile barbershop in 2015. Inspired by his father’s purchase of a drilling rig, Booker wanted New Element Barber to be something that would help his family prosper well into the future.
“I started this for my family because I saw what my father was doing at a later age, and I wanted to get ahead of him so I could have a generational business going for the family,” Booker says.
Since going mobile, Booker has experienced his fair share of hardships – most notably the death of his son Antwain Booker Jr., who is survived by his newborn son Kingston.
“We lost my son December 11, and it crushed my soul,” Booker says.
After taking some time off to grieve, Kuts and New Element Barber are back in full swing, thanks to help from his marketing team at Advanced XP.
“New Element Barber is doing well,” Booker says. “I’m excited about where I’ll be heading this summer. I feel rejuvenated because my grandson Kingston is here. Seeing him is motivating me to go a little bit harder.”
Booker is truly trying to change the game as an Indianapolis barber when it comes to his mobile barbershop business model.
“I’m just trying to go forward and give something different to the city, and also blaze a new lane where a stylist can make more money,” he says. “My end goal is to get trucks to the house instead of being in one location. I’m doing this right now because I’m coming out as my company and letting my name get around the surrounding areas in the city. Then I’m going to branch out and get smaller trucks, and we’re going to start coming to the houses.”