Mark Bustos is a hair stylist at an upscale salon in New York City, but not all of his clientele have to be wealthy to get a quality trim. Sometimes, they don’t need a penny.
Bustos spends every Sunday — his only day off from work — venturing through the city in search of anyone in need who’d appreciate a haircut. Approaching each person with the same, simple phrase — “I want to do something nice for you today” — Bustos provides cuts to up to six people every Sunday, capturing many stylings on his Instagram account.
Bustos has been cutting hair for the less fortunate since May 2012, when he traveled to the Philippines to visit family members. While abroad, he paid an owner of a barbershop to rent a chair and provide services to impoverished children in need of a fresh look.
“The feeling was so rewarding, I decided to bring the positive energy back to NYC,” Bustos, 30, told The Huffington Post in an email, noting he’s also given haircuts to the needy in Jamaica, Costa Rica and Los Angeles.
One of Bustos’ clients, Jim from Long Beach, California, who’d just been released from prison two weeks before his haircut. “Every human life is worth the same,” Bustos wrote in the caption. “We all deserve a second chance.”
Of all the meaningful haircuts Bustos has given over the years, one recipient sticks out.
“Jemar Banks — I’ll never forget the name,” Bustos told HuffPost. “After offering him a haircut and whatever food he wanted to eat, he didn’t have much to say throughout the whole process, until after I showed him what he looked like when I was done … The first thing he said to me was, ‘Do you know anyone that’s hiring?'”
Bustos said he cuts hair all over New York City, often accompanied by his girlfriend, who asks recipients what food they’d like to eat.
“One response we’ve gotten is, ‘Nobody ever asks me what I actually want. I usually just get leftovers and scraps,'” Bustos told HuffPost.
Bustos said he intentionally cuts hair for the homeless in open, well-traveled spaces like street corners and sidewalks so that the public can watch — “not to see me,” he notes, but so that others can find inspiration in the good deed, and be kind to those less unfortunate as well.
“Even a simple smile can go a long way.