Shaped for a Mission
There are two things that local barber Kintae Lark is confident about: his work and his mission.
“I cut really good,” says Lark when it comes to his barbering skills. “When people get good service, they’re not going to give it up. … Our goal is for God to get the glory out of our profession, without compromise.”
Lark, a South Bend native, and his wife, Tanika, own Inspiration Barber Salon and Inspiration School of Beauty Culture, both in South Bend.
Lark’s inspiration: his childhood.
“[My mother] was in very abusive relationships,” recalls Lark. “Over the course of the first 14 years of my life, we were in and out of homeless shelters.”It was when Lark, an organizational management graduate and former director of Multi-Ethnic Programs for Bethel, was 14 that he had to decide between the streets and church.
“I chose Christ, and life became very isolating for me,” he says. “I still was thriving in school and was doing better, but I suffered a lot from low self-esteem.”
So he began cutting his own hair to avoid being bullied.
As a teen, Lark further transformed his misery into ministry by providing haircuts within the community and offering free haircuts to local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, where he impressed on the kids that there’s more to life than drugs and prison.
“I’ve worked hands-on with some of the worst cases of abuse and child neglect,” says Lark, whose ministry is more than just hair. “I would teach drawing skills as a development to boost self-esteem … I would work a lot with poetry. I would thrive in these environments because I would know what it was to be left out and have low self-esteem.”
Lark went on to study criminal justice and serve on nonprofit advisory staffs, providing training on how to work with kids who grew up like he did.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, Lark received a call from Bethel, informing him of the director of Multi-Ethnic Programs position; he worked at Bethel by day and earned his degree by night.
“I proudly keep my diploma on my wall right here in my classroom,” says Lark.
“Had I not gone to Bethel College, the way I dream of seeing more and dreaming more would be different. I opened up a lot at Bethel and came out of the box more.”
Bethel allowed Lark to learn about change, tithing and culture, all of which he implements into his own businesses.
Now Lark and his wife run their salon and school with the goal of bringing reformation to the community and bringing the focus back on barbershops and salons. Students are required to take what they’re learning outward by completing 10 percent of their work in the community for free.
“I don’t believe this is the end,” says Lark of where he and his wife are currently at with the school and salon. “I believe it’s a means to an end.”
Watch Kintae’s work in this video.