STYLING HAIR HAS LED HIM AROUND THE WORLD
It's hard to deny that hair is more than just the stuff that grows on top of your head, it is most often a blank canvas waiting to be styled and molded. Barber Marcus Williams wants to be your artist. As owner of the Philly based barbershop Styles Inspired by MARC, his work caught our eye some months back when we saw pictures of Marcus in exotic destinations across the globe always with sheers in his hand. You could see that he takes his work as a barbershop owner and stylist seriously and we instantly knew that he had a story that was begging be told.
Find out why Marcus Williams is this week's Daring Creative.
In a few sentences, please tell us about yourself:
I'm a barbershop owner who loves to express myself through the hair art I create. I love the hair industry so much that I decided to give back by becoming a hair educator. I travel the work teaching other barbers and stylist my techniques and approach to modern hairstyles. Have a deep passion for the arts and I am a photographer and interior decorator in the making. I also love to travel the world
When did you decide to pursue your current career path?
It was the summer between the 10th grade about to go to the 11th. I had a job at McDonald's and after I got my first pay check I quit because I realized I made more money cutting my friends in the school library then I did there. Luckily my school had a vocational program and I begged my mother to let me sign up for the cosmetology program. It was $350 to sign up and I used my own money to pay for it. So I have been investing in myself for years. When I started I was the only male in the class and in that time it wasn't perceived as the best thing to do because some people thought I was something I wasn't and all I wanted to do was create hair art. So it was a struggle emotionally at first. After school was over I was working part time at a barbershop to learn barbering as well. So I was making the best of my time and was very serious about what I wanted to do. Years later I'm still styling hair and having fun.
How did you go from idea to execution?
️ I worked at a barbershop for about 7 years. The first few years I would walk 3 miles to and from the shop. I would walk to the head barbers house to get the shop key like 7am. I would always wake him up lol. I remember one day opening the shop at 7am Ana closing at 9pm and I didn't have one client all day and I walked home crying because I was doubting myself and my talent because so many people came in the shop but no one let me cut their hair. So I started dressing nicer and made sure my work station looked cleaner. So people would look at me and say to themselves " he looks like he can cut!" So I used my image and personality to build my clients and while I improved my skill set. My barber friend and mentor Jeff. Taught me barbering, showed me how to save money and even taught me how to drive. I'm forever grateful for him to do that. So the hair industry means more to me then most people could imagine. So when it was time for me to branch out and open my own shop. I was excited but sad at the same time. I saved money and a year before I even had a location I was buying chairs and materials because I just knew I would open up a creative space to call my own. In 2008 I opened my first location in Yeadon Pa. After a few years of running my shop. I went back to school to become a educator. It was a great experience and I decided to re brand and relocate my shop to Philadelphia Pa. I always dreamed of having a shop in the city because it was other cool shops and creative people their to build with. Also people in the city were more hip and were open to doing more with their hair which was heaven for me. The county was a lot slower to catch the changing trends and I wanted to stay ahead of the curve.
How does the city you live in influence your creativity?
Philadelphia influences me in many ways because there are other artist who create here. Photographers, writers, musicians, film makers, other store owners. Building relationships with them and learning more helped. There are beautiful museums and buildings with amazing architecture and parks.
In your words, what does it mean to be a “creative”?
Being creative to me means being "free" being free in a sense that you have no rules no barriers no limits. To be able to create things that others love is a blessing to my life. I make a honest living creating so it's just something I'm very passionate about and I want others to tap into their creative gifts and maximize their potential.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? If so, please describe.
️ Rejection made me want to learn and do more with my life and career because I understand that you have to be apart of the change you want to see. I used to want to be apart of groups, companies and social circles and I realized that if you remain true to yourself. Genuine people will naturally come to you, opportunities will happen organically. I lost a barber competition 2 years ago in Philadelphia and I remember being so angry because I felt cheated. I can handle losing but to feel cheated if hard to handle. I was styling on stage with a three piece black suit on and my model and I were very sharp in appearance. So it was a barber competition and I was using shears, blow drying, flat irons and molding my clients hair. At that time and even now a lot of barbers didn't have that skill set. Because of my cosmetology roots I was applying those techniques to men's hair. After I didn't even place in the competition and I couldn't sleep for a week straight. I promised myself that I would be better so I traveled the world to learn as much as possible. I've traveled to London for my birthday to take a Vidal Sassoon hair class in downtown London. While in London I met with some of the best hair stylist and talked to them about the hair. These were people whos work I followed and respected and through talking to them they all told me that they respected my work as well. So that was a confidence booster. I also worked in a few barbershops while in London after class was over. I wanted to be fully immersed in the culture over there. The fashion, the history, the hair scene, the buildings, the cars and even the beautiful red buses that are in London were a influence to me. I traveled to Jamaica and worked in shops there and also donated to shops there to help them give their clients better a better service. In the last year alone I've been to London, Paris, Rome, Portugal, Madrid, Morocco, Toronto, Jamaica, Mexico, Los Angeles and New York. I've worked and brought back things to my shop and it has taken me to new levels creatively and because of my travels and educating myself as well as educating others I've changed the men's hair scene in Philadelphia and I'm very proud to be apart of that.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue the same career as you?
I would tell them to seek good mentors and to travel and learn from all walks of like. Be open minded and to think ahead and not be so focused on the current. To seek advanced education and to always invest back into yourself. Be free mentally and emotionally and this will extend your career. Network with others
What has been the pit and peak of your week so far? (a low and a high moment)
The peak to my week was having a new client travel from Miami to get a haircut from me. That was very humbling. Wow. The pit was hearing that a loved one might not make it because of cancer.
Who is someone famous that you think is killing it at the moment? In other words, is there someone whose career you admire.
I admire Pharrell Williams. He as always been someone I admired and followed. I've been listening to his band N.E.R.D. Since 1999 and it's just great to see him still being true to his sound and being a complete artist with fashion, books, movies, animation and of course music. I would love to meet him one day and possibly build.
Finish this sentence:
I want people to remember me as: a person who lived and created a life that was purposeful and fun to live. A person who made a living having fun doing hair and being who he wanted to be. Living a colorful life and not just a black and white boring life.
If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would: spend time with my family and make a video of final thoughts to leave behind for people to watch. I would treat it as a celebration instead of a bad time. Because I love life and live so free, I'd be happy when my time is up because I honestly have done way more in live then I thought I would and o can't really ask for more. I would listen to some of my favorite musical artist and style a few clients too.
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: This was hard but it would have to be Coldplay "Clocks".
Follow Marcus' journey on Instagram: @marcrepublic
Photos courtesy of Marcus Williams.