Feature No. 4:
Occupation: Barber + Business Owner
Birthplace: Akron, OH / Medina OH
Current Location: Cleveland, Ohio
What does being an American maker mean to you?
I think it means being creative in any way that you see fit. Specifically for me, I’m creative with how I cut others’ hair. In general, being an American maker, just means you can really do anything. I think it’s important for everyone to utilize their creativity to make their community a better place.
Was being a barber always your passion? If not, how did you come into it?
Yeah, so it’s kind of interesting...well, I wouldn’t say interesting....it’s really—I followed a more nontraditional path for figuring out what I wanted to do. I was interested in men’s style and fashion, so I pursued it in college and got a merchandising degree. I ended up trying to make it work in New York. I was selling t-shirts and doing internships, but also picked up catering and other odd jobs to pay the bills. One day, I got a haircut and a shave at a barber shop in New York, and it changed my life. I came home inspired, went to barber school in 2011, and I’ve been cutting hair ever since. It wasn’t a passion I was born with, it was one that developed over time. For me it’s about making others feel and look good—that’s rewarding. My clientele appreciates what makes me feel good, is making them look their best.
What is your daily routine to keep you motivated and on track for your goals and your career?
I start my day with my two daughters and a beautiful wife. They get me motivated to do and be the best that I can, for them. I stay on top of trends in men’s fashion and what’s happening in the industry. I pay close attention to different brands of clothing, skin care and hair products, and I’m always on the lookout for something new to offer my clients. My routine is just staying involved, keeping my eyes open, and always trying to do something different and new.
Take us through your creative process, and why does no one else do/design like you?
I’ve found over the years that the most efficient way to begin a haircut is to ask your client what they don’t like. I think a lot of times people say, ‘oh, where do you work?’ or ‘what do you like?’ But, I always start with, ‘what do you not want?’ That quickly lets me know where not to go, and then we can build from there. Communication is the biggest thing. You really have to listen and understand what the client’s asking for so they look and feel their best. There’s obviously more to my process, but I like to leave a little magic.
I’m closing in on almost 10 years of doing what I do. To be a master at anything you have to do it every day and you have to learn from everything. I learn from every haircut and person that walks through my door. Regardless of how long you do something, you need to continue to learn and grow. If people say I do it better than anybody else, then I would say I just try to learn and grow every day and keep improving.
What are you going to take away from this time in your life? What does a life well-lived mean to you?
The last year and a half helped me realize what was really important and worth spending my time doing. A lot of that came down to family-time. Before Covid, you were expected to go to work if you’re sick or healthy. You weren’t encouraged to take vacations. But having two months off and getting to sit on the couch with my wife and my daughter—our second daughter wasn’t cookin’ yet, so it was just the three of us—showed me that the most important thing is family and staying healthy.
I also think that life is about experiencing different things. And yes, of course, you want to be successful and live as comfortably as possible. But I think gaining new experiences and not just sticking to the same routine. Life needs some sporadic behavior. For me, a life well-lived is one where you try to get everything that you want to do, done. And being creative and an entrepreneur helps me get closer to that point.