This interview was supposed to last 30 minutes, but ended up closer to 45 minutes. In hindsight, I wish we had just recorded the interview on the podcast. The interview was that good. Moody is a true inspiration for barbers around the world. It’s easy to get caught up in his IG feed of famous athletes, but that’s only part of his story. You don’t see the journey that got him there. The grind of patiently planting seeds. The hours driving in the car. The social life sacrifice. Oh, but he’s reaping the fruit now. Here’s a closer look, behind the chair of Moody aka @thearabbarber.
Tell us about the showcase you just hosted.
Moody: I wanted to bring everyone together and expose hidden talent. We had 2 rounds. 6 barbers for the first round and 6 barbers for the second. We didn’t want the barbers to feel rushed and wanted to give them time to explain their techniques to those watching, so each round was 90 minutes. We had about 50 people show up and we only promoted it for 1 week. It was crazy. I can’t wait to do another one. I’m trying to get every barbershop to host their own showcase.
Let’s rewind. Where are you from and how did you get into barbering?
Moody: First generation born in the US, grew up in Southwest Detroit. My family fled the war, came to the US with nothing. We grew up on government assistance. My uncle took me to the barbershop when I was growing up. I always looked forward to it. I’d rock my best fit whenever we’d go. I decided to pursue barbering after I went to my first barber battle. During the battle, I actually was a hair model for a barber from Miami who had over 100 trophies in his trophy case. I decided to pursue barbering after the event.
From the start, I had a vision that would require a lot of sacrifice. While my friends were hanging out doing high school things, I drove 45 minutes from Ann Arbor to Southwest Detroit to sweep the floors and watch the barbers cut hair in a shop that featured some of the coldest barbers in the area. I was dedicated to learning everything I could about the game. 3 weeks after I graduated high school, I enrolled in barber school. I drove 2 hours everyday (1 hour there and 1 hour back). After I got my license, I worked at a shop that was 45 minutes away so I only made $60 to $80 a day after booth rent and gas.
Did you ever feel misunderstood?
Moody: Definitely. No one understood why I was doing what I was doing, but I saw the vision. My family didn’t want me to pursue barbering, they wanted me to set an example for my younger siblings and cousins. As immigrant parents, they wanted their child to be someone. I had to tell them that this was my decision and they needed to just let me fail. Let me blame myself if it doesn’t work out. I realized that as long as you have your vision, you don’t need validation from anyone else. You don’t need everyone to believe in your dreams. You only need you. And now, the seeds that I planted 3 years ago are now coming to fruition.
What is your vision? What do you want to accomplish in your career?
Moody: I want to be an A-List celebrity barber and I want to be a barber on movie and television sets. I want to inspire people. If I can inspire one person, then I’ve made it. I want to show people that there is a way. You can come from nothing. Anything is possible.
How do your clients react to The Rig?
Moody: Everytime I put it on, they ask what is that? Where did you get it? If I’m being honest, buying my first rig was one of the best purchases I have ever made in my career. In our industry, your appearance can separate you from everyone else. Not everyone rocks The Rig and not everyone can rock The Rig. It adds a special piece to my outfit. My clients call it the bulletproof vest. One of the biggest challenges in our industry is to be different. Barbers set themselves apart by the way they move, their clothes, their shoes, their style, their look. The Rig is a big piece of that for me.
In your opinion, how would you describe the modern barber?
Moody: Barbering is headed in a direction we’ve never been before. We can charge what we are truly worth. The modern barber knows their worth. They don’t sell themselves short. Clients will pay the price because they know the value is there. To do that though, the modern barber needs to know every style. You need to know how to cut every type of hair texture. You need to be committed to putting in the work of learning the craft.
There was much more wisdom shared in our conversation. Health setbacks that had Moody nervous for his life. The importance of standing 10 toes down through every emotion. Putting your faith in God and trusting His plan to be better than your own. The value of finding a mentor to not only help you navigate your barber career but also life beyond the chair. So much more we could have talked about, but I hope you have found some inspiration in this small glimpse of his story.