Celebrity barber and owner of Team Hairbenders, Darrl “Dee” Robert Jr. has a powerful connection to his New Orleans community. Robert works with both men and women in his unisex salon as well as celebrities like Russell Wilson, Keyshia Cole and NFL player Brandin Cooks.
Robert’s skills and business acumen brought him success, which he has paid forward–literally. With access to over $900,000 in business credit, he purchased properties in a heavily drug-infested neighborhood and renovated the worst house on the block, turning it into a family’s future dream home. Additionally, Robert is dedicated to ensuring that children in impoverished neighborhoods have a safe space to run and play by renovating basketball courts and more.
We chatted with Robert about community, business, his future and more.
Q: Why do you think black barbers play such an important role in their communities?
A: Black barbers play such an important role in their communities because of their influential key factors—whether they realize it or not. For a lot of kids, they become father figures or the big uncle they never had. You’d be surprised how much children and teenagers open to me about problems they’re having at school or how to approach a young lady they may like. Many have even asked what college they should attend. There’s not a race or class of people that we as barbers do not rub elbows with because of our craft. And I wholeheartedly believe that if we harness those connections correctly and keep our intentions pure, we can positively shift our communities faster and more effectively than any politician can.
Q: What inspired you to give back to your community in the particular ways you have become involved?
A: As of late, the smile on the kids' faces has been my driving force in giving back to my community. Earlier last year I started working closely with the One Life One Future Foundation and the outreach has been nothing short of phenomenal. This year, I’m working on something special. If all goes well, it’ll be a wonderful gift to my city.
Q: How did you establish a celebrity clientele?
A: They say if you build it, they will come. I used this same approach in establishing my celebrity clientele. By the time I started studying the kind of celebrities I wanted to attract, my skill set was already there. I just had to work on my positioning and how I presented myself. This is where coming out of my comfort zone and six degrees of separation came into play. I began networking with barbers who were doing what I had an interest in and strategically advancing my social media platforms by means of hashtags, tour dates, and downtime. At first, it felt like I was just spinning my wheels. But then it happened. After about six months of continually working my plan, I landed my first NFL client, and it's been a revolving door ever since.
Q: What advice would you give a new barber starting out and trying to make a name for him/herself?
A: Sharpen your craft, find your niche and learn how to become one with it daily. I feel like only then will you find real, sustainable success.
Q: Where do you see your business in 10 years? How do you map out goals to make them more achievable?
A: In 10 years, I’ll most likely be gone as a barber and grown into a business/real estate mogul. I love barbering and it’s shown me so much love. It’s only right that I lay the right foundation now in my peak years, so I don’t have to stand as much in my leaner years. And I say that because I’m not young anymore. My goals are family-focused and bigger than me, being that I’m the man and leader of my last name. For example, to retire some of my loved ones and have a place where my nieces and nephews can work and learn business, I need a proven system in place, and that’s why opening a franchise is on my list of goals and keeps the fire burning to achieve.
Learn more about Robert and his story here.
Originally posted on Modern Salon