There’s no set time when you find your calling, but when it finally unfolds, it’s an irreplaceable experience. So when this week’s Urban Beardsman, Jimmy Hicks reacquainted himself with the time he enjoyed cutting hair during his time in the corps, he decided to pursue it full force vs- trekking through his current corporate position—leading him to today where he’s infamously known as; “The Bearded Barber.”
After working in the automotive industry for a significant time, he began to notice a distinct decline in the industry. Hicks reflected back to a favorable time in the corps where he enjoyed barbering his fellow brothers in arms; making a move to enroll in barber school and eventually opening his own, Hicks Barbershop about eight months ago. “I really enjoy talking to people, and barbering encompasses that along with interacting with different personalities who are always different. Barbering has provided a place for me and others to socially connect. One thing I’ll NEVER have in my shop is a TV—because that gives people a reason to not communicate,” he shares.
Although some might say there’s a trend associated in barber shop resurgence, Hicks feels it’s a positive thing, and states, “I think it’s a movement, Plus, I’ve had grown men come into my shop and say they appreciate they can get a 15 – 20 min cut and be in and out. They know they won’t spend all day in a chair, and they like it because there is camaraderie.”
With the undeniable growth in barbershop presence, Hick’s shares what he believes makes his shop a standout. “There’s something for everybody in my shop. I have nostalgic items that include an old school radio—the best thing I think anyone has observed about the shop I’ve heard is the music. I listen to literally everything. It’s all into everything shuffled and let it go. I’ve had people laugh because I’m going form to Corn, to Miley Cyrus—to Johnny cash and Luke Bryant. You name it—it plays.”
Hicks also prides that his shop follows the traditional barbershop roots with what he likes to call, “the social hub” of his small nit community inside of Dayton, Ohio. “We talk about things like the different restaurants nearby, great up and coming tattoo artists you can get work done from, and we share what we know about other types of new business going in; IE: what’s going on with the locals and things like that.”
Whether a blessing or a curse, Hicks’ can often be referred to as “brutally honest” when it comes to helping his client get the best cut that fits their look. “I’m not the barber of the past that says ‘you want this, and I’ll just give you that.’ I look at their head shape, face, and their look and am brutally honest. I look at guys who are thinning or balding, and I don’t know if I’m the bearer of bad news, but I’m very forthright about telling them what kind of style they can have. I’m not going to pacify them. Once I was called an asshole, but they appreciated me being an asshole. I also think the location of my shop is very eclectic; different genres, music, bars, and people ask me what’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen in the district, and I say everything is normal. People can have a humongous beard and I’m not going to talk them into a shave, or if they want a shave will I give them crap about that as well. I’ll give you advice on how to maintain and keep your beard. I know beards—that’s one thing they appreciate. I take my time and do the best things I can for them so they look their best.”
Aside from barber life, Hicks has quite a tight day-to-day schedule, sharing, “I typically head into the shop, do a pre-clean up, and check my messages for appointments. I also just got my dog Kratos, a blue nosed pit bull approved to be in the shop now, so taking him for a walk is a part of my routine aside from touching base with people in the district. I also sponsor my son’s baseball team and go to his games–its awesome to see your business on a T-ball team! My wife and I are also going to Jamaica this summer, so we’re really excited for that. We have a local band (Night Beast) that I dearly love here in Dayton, and my wife and I try to get to their shows as much a possible.”
Being that Hicks works in the bearded culture daily, he shares what his own face-mane means to him, “I have a two-year beard, (a tweard). I initially started growing it out going to beard and mustache competitions, I was completely shaven, but had a bearded shirt, and I got called BS, and so I started growing it out. It was a defiant thing after my corporate job phase. I grew it out with a possibility to transfer to Dayton. I shaved it off for a possible job transfer but didn’t get it, and I just let it grow. I was tired of being Dan-the-man.”
Occasionally though, Hicks admits his beard has a “mind of it’s own.” “The beard can get in the way when I’m working on someone—once it got stuck in the seat, and was trapped between the seat and my body. I couldn’t move my head. On the flipside, when walking my dog and or riding my bike, it flips and flies—and that’s pretty awesome. But I can’t lie, I don’t mind the attention.”
As a result of Hicks being an expert in the bearded field, he shares his favorite maintenance tips; “my keys to grooming my beard starts with using an anti-dandruff shampoo to wash it—day one. The next day I’ll use a conditioner, any type of regular one. On the third day I’ll use my favorite beard oil.”
After taking a recent leap of faith from the corporate world, Hicks is proof that taking chances, especially when your happiness is involved with what you do is worth the risk. He hopes to continue to maintain the business, while perfecting his craft to the fullest. “I want to learn even more about hair to be well-rounded for the future. Not like ‘70s of the future. Above all I just want to remain that humble dude you can come in and get your haircut done and have a chat. It’s not about the money, (my price confirms that). As long I can pay my rent I’m happy.”
Although some of us dream of taking risks of career changes, Hicks confides that his family helped keeping him grounded, “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my wife and kids, I went from a job making a decent salary to not knowing what I’d make. If it weren’t for my wife and kids supporting me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Proof that you should follow your heart, (and your beard), Hicks is an inspiration to do what you love… and the rest will follow.