What’s it like for an industry leader, top competitor, business owner, and still being able to make it home in time for dinner? Some people, like Drew Da Barber, make it look easy.
The Tampa-based master barber is a 19-time champion and lead educator for JRL and Squire. With over 20 years under his belt, he’s a pro at reinventing himself to excel to the next level and be a community leader that inspires everyone around him.
How does he do it? Well, we caught up with Drew to pull back the curtain and he let us know how he balances the two most important roles in his life: Being a successful shop owner and a family man.
More than just a fade
When you get a haircut, it’s so easy to think that the person doing the service is just that. But there’s so much more to barbers than people may think. Take Drew: He’s a client’s part-time therapist, a boss to 11 people, and a husband and father.
Every barbershop has its own unique vibe—one the owner helps build. At The Barber Lounge II, for example, you’ll feel at home the minute you step inside.
“People can come and enjoy the experience. They don’t really have to worry if they brought their wife, came alone, or if their kids are gonna be exposed to something in the shop that they might not want them to hear,” he says. “I really try to zero in on making sure that the experience for them is there.”
Things are smooth sailing now, but it comes from years of having to maintain keeping the shop doors open and caring for his family. Of course he says, it’s hard.
Finding that balance
Around the time Drew opened his first shop, he found out he was going to be a father. Two major milestones were happening at once, and though nervous, Drew had a realization that invigorated him.
“There was no way I could fail now. It was too important to me to be successful…I wanted to be able to give my kids the life I never had.”
So he went all in at work. He was in the shop all day, at trade shows on the weekends, and competing in between. Drew was constantly on the road to build that dream life, but he was missing out the biggest part: Who he was doing it for.
Drew was telling himself that success doesn’t come without sacrifice. Going nonstop was how he was giving it all to his family. But as he realized, sometimes being there for your family means being there.
But it’s being stuck between a rock and a hard place. How do you keep both roles in your life without failing? Do you have to give up one for the other?
“I don’t always think we have to look towards giving up our careers just because home life gets hard. I think what we have to do is figure out when to turn it off and when to turn it on. I think you can figure out how to have both as long as you have balance.”
Drew’s in the shop from 8-6. He doesn’t work weekends, and doesn’t go to nearly as many trade shows. That way, he can show up for his family in more ways than one.
Empowering the next generation
The biggest lesson Drew wants his kids to take away from watching him do his thing is that they can do whatever they want to do as long as they’re passionate. As long as they have the right people around them.
Drew notes that if he didn’t have the support system he does, he wouldn’t be the person he is today. His wife is his partner through it all. And now, he has the right peers. Because once upon a time, he thought he had the right mentors around him, but he also found himself stagnating in the industry.
“I was seeing everyone else growing, I had the skill, I had the ambition, I had the drive to want to do more, but why wasn’t I doing more? I realized I wasn’t doing more because I had the people around me influence me negatively.”
When he branched out, and surrounded himself with people who inspired and help drive him, he saw those doors open. As he says, “Whatever it means to the individual, everyone wants to be part of something. Ultimately, we all have some things that drive us, but we all have the same common goal, and that’s just feeling like we’re part of something.”
Barbers are some of the best people you’ll ever meet, he says. They have a super power of inspiring people to be the best version of themselves and lead by example. It only takes one person to see the light in you that you know is there, and that’s all you’ll need to figure out how to be who you’re meant to be.
Happy Father’s Day to Drew and all the dads out there!
If you’re in Tampa and you want to get on Drew’s books, Squire makes it easy—do it right here.
Photos via Andrew Munoz