If you thought I put a lot of importance in excellent clippers, shears and tools, than you will be blown away by the barber who considers his tools more precious than gold. Jak, otherwise known as King Midas within the barbering industry, started his legacy of fashionable capes and aprons with a realization that his two biggest passions were fashion and barbering; to combine them seemed the best option.
Jak considered that there are many lanes in the barbering industry, and that he wanted to ultimately put something out there that hadn’t been done before. With his urban / hip-hop New York fashion sense and love for barbering, he eventually became King Midas, named after the man who turned everything he touched into gold.
Unlike the fairy tale character, Jak felt that his tools were already golden before he took on his new nickname. “Barbers don’t always live on the straight and narrow,” he admits, “and whenever my life started going a certain way, it was always my clippers and tools that kept me grounded and focused. When I finally wizened up, I realized how powerful and important my tools ultimately were: they provided my income, let me socialize with all sorts of great people and were therapeutic through every time in my life – they’re everything to me.”
With such importance placed on his tools, one wonders if they are actually made of gold (or just the expensive top-of-the-line models)? Jak takes a “not everything that is golden glitters” approach here as well. “My style is reflect in the tools I use – simplistic. They’re about the same ones that I’ve had since barbering school.” He smiles a bit, “My basic tool kit is my Andis Masters, the T-Outliner, the Oster 76 and shears. Sometimes, I use a Wahl, but these are the tools I largely stick with.” What is the style that his legendary tools reflect exactly? His love for passion displays as he admits that he uses an urban / hip-hop style, straight from New York itself, such as flat tops and skin fades.
Even with his nickname being King Midas, the quote on his store page is: “serve your clients like a peasant and they will honor you like a King.” His dedication reflects in how he tries to cater his products, the King Midas capes and aprons, to what barbers ultimately want. “There wasn’t much emphasis on anything more than the clippers,” he tells me. “I created the cape to bring more than that to the table, so that when barbers take pictures of their cuts and styles they can incorporate the capes which they can tailor to reflect them and the style of the shop.” The reception has been fantastic, and he is grateful for the positive feedback he has received.
When he introduced aprons to his product line, the feedback was a bit different. People weren’t initially receptive to aprons, as barber jackets are more of a common standard in the US. “Why go with aprons? I’m a traditional barber,” Jak laughs. “I’ve never gotten a response from a barber jacket, and even when we were using them at the barber academy I thought they were just too bland. I wanted to put something out there that offered more, and better fashion.” It took a bit of time, but the response has greatly improved since customers of his have begun to notice Jak wearing an apron with the King Midas logo. “They really comment a lot about how I’m color coordinated and how good it looks.” Jak hopes that more people will eventually see the passion he has put into the aprons as much as the capes.
Running a busy barber shop and distributing a popular line of products is a tall order – how can he do it? Jak admits that he’s been running on three or four hours of sleep for about two years, but he doesn’t regret the sacrifice of a better night’s sleep. “I’m basically working from the first thing in the morning to late at night, but I don’t mind. I want to be out there and interact with people so I can keep a pulse on what they want to see. I design my products with them in mind and to show my gratitude – I think about them over anything else, even myself”.
Jak started with a bigger shop initially, but eventually downsized it to a smaller shop with six stations and six chairs. In another show of valuing simplicity and putting others first, he made the decision to make things more manageable and to lower any complications between the barbers and customers. “It’s worked so far,” he laughs.
His attitude towards the people he has made the capes and designs for has paid off in a big way. There are celebrities who have shown an interest in products from their own barbers and stylists putting on one of the capes or aprons on them. “It’s a lot! I want to thank the barbers who put the word out there by using one of my capes or aprons. Now, I’m inadvertently getting all of this love from celebrities who’ve never even met me.” With some of the names being 50 Cent and LeBron James, it is easy to understand how overwhelmed he might be, for certain. If there was one big name he would want wearing one of his products, Jak admits that he could die happy if President Obama was wearing one while he got a cut; nothing wrong with aiming high!
When asked what was next for him and King Midas as a whole when it came to new aprons and capes, Jak told me that he has three aprons on the way eventually. “There’s so much I want to do that, to be honest, I don’t even know what I want to do next for sure. Hopefully, people out there will think the wait is worth it, because I want to deliver something for them that shows that it is for them and to show my thanks.”
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