avatar

Celebrity Barber: Popular Nobody (John Mosley) Tells His Barberlife Story…

Best known by his barbering identity Popular Nobody, John Mosley is not just an extremely talented barber, but also a world class educator, brand ambassador, and creator of his own brand. As a barber, his skills have allowed him to pick up some exceptional celebrity clients, while as an educator he has become one of the most sought-after names in North America. He has a number of barbering and lifestyle products available under his brand Popular Nobody, while as an ambassador he represents companies including Andis, Paul Mitchell and Hanzo Shears.

What barber wouldn’t want to learn from such a successful and varied career? From speaking to John, I can see that his drive and determination is an inspiration for everybody who wants to push their own career to the next stage, so let’s delve into his barbering journey and see what he has to teach us!

 

Barbering by Accident

What really strikes me about John’s journey into barbering is that it happened almost by accident – in his words, his barbering education started as a ‘joke’. Having been a college football player, he found that he needed a career to turn to:

“College just isn’t for everybody, and I was just one of the guys that college just wasn’t for. I would go just for the sports, and then I realised as an athlete that they really don’t care that much about you unless you play sports – and that’s not what I wanted my educational journey to be. I went home and said Mum, put me through barbering school, and I was just joking. I was just trying to buy some time so she would get off my back!

Two days later I was going to barbering school, and since that I have thanked my Mum every day because it has changed my life”

From that unlikely starting point 16 years ago, John has gone from strength to strength. Watching him as an educator, it’s clear that he has won over his audience, and become something of a celebrity. So how did he become such a talented educator?

“It began when I was in barber college. I was having fun as I started to find my niche. And my Mum was an educator, so she would put on hair shows, and she’d have me on stage. So that’s how it all got started”.

John quickly identified a niche for his educational material, in cosmetology schools where they would often have little education on cutting men’s hair. Offering up a men’s cutting class at these schools allowed him to practice and grow:

“Now when I’m up on stage I’m comfortable there. I want people to be engaged, I want them to learn. I want people to talk to me and I’ll talk to them so that at the end of the day they feel like if nobody else was worth watching, at least I was”.

 

The Jetsetter’s Lifestyle

John’s work has also taken him all over the world: just this year he’s racked up almost 50,000 air miles and taken an impressive 53 flights. Of course, we’d love to see him come to the UK and share his work with British barbers – so when does John plan to start thinking about travelling to the UK?

“Right now! This is the start of my journey to come to the UK, I’ve reached out to some people on Instagram and I’m hoping this interview is the start of changing the thought process on bringing this Popular Nobody out over the pond and letting him have some fun. Because that’s something I want to do, I want to bring my knowledge to the world.”

For anybody who is considering bringing John over to Britain, it’s worth noting just how many brands he’s educated for: as well as Hanzo Shears and Andis, he had a big part in writing Paul Mitchell’s educational programme. Personally, I’d love to see British barbers benefitting from such a talented teacher!

John also has his own educational team to champion, with barbers from across America coming together to create great education under his guidance and mentorship.

 

The Popular Nobody

Underpinning all of this great work is John’s brand: Popular Nobody. He’s certainly popular – among celebrity clients as well as other barbers. The famous names he’s worked with include Kendrick Lamar and Idris Elba as well as the Washington National baseball team. He has also worked with some MBA and NFL players, and was even taken on the Eminem tour with Rihanna to provide his barbering services.

So, with all this in mind, where does the Popular Nobody name come from?

“Me and my client were sitting in the chair, and you all know the barber to client relationship, we were just laughing and joking. He was going down the list of celebrities I’ve worked with and things he’s seen me do and he just said man, your work is everywhere but nobody knows it’s you. You’re like a popular nobody.

There’s now a barbering case that I have out, because I’m on the go. I was having problems with my kit, blades chipped – so I found the solution and created this case that carries five clippers in individual Velcro straps. It holds all my shears, my razors and my combs. I also have a proper set of combs coming out next week.

We’ve got socks, the hat, lapel pins; I feel like my brand is not just a hair brand. My theory behind it is that everybody is a popular nobody. It’s a lifestyle: you love what you do, don’t talk about it do it, there’s no point bragging about it.”

 

Standing Against Fakery

Something I ask most of the barbers I speak to is what they’d like to see change in the industry, and John doesn’t have to think twice about his answer: Microfibres and photoshop.

“I feel like, as men get older they start to lose their testosterone, we begin to have baldness and things happen – but I feel like the more and more you falsify and give clients false hope with microfibres and that sort of thing… it’s just wrong. My question is this: are you hiding your work because your work isn’t good? Are you trying to this guy’s confidence back up? A lot of guys I see these days are using microfibres as a crutch.

That’s not what it’s all about; it’s not about making guys look so ‘perfect’. You shouldn’t look perfect – you should look nice and decent but still be manly. It’s the same with Photoshop: we shouldn’t be fixing up photos just to get likes on Instagram.”

Of course, there are also things about barbering that John loves, including the brands that he works with. I ask him why he chose to be ambassador for Andis, Hanzo Shears and Feather Razors in particular:

“First of all, barbers have got to consider this: when you watch Nascar and you see the cars go around the track, they have a lot of different sponsors. In barbering, we’re the cars, we run the rack – so there are ways of getting sponsorship. You’ve just got to find the problem and be the solution.

So why I use those three tools. Andis just feel right for me, they fit what I like, they fit my hand, the motors are great. It’s a great company, US made – and I don’t have issues with my tools.

With Hanzo shears, it’s having the right shears for each situation. These shears cut great and leave the hair really nice and polished. I can cut wet or dry, and they’re nice and balanced with a good weight.

Then with Feather razors, when you’re working with the straight razor not every guy has the same skin type as the next guy. So being able to bounce between different blade selections gives me the opportunity to take on any challenge that sits in my chair”.

A Chance to Reflect

For the final part of the interview, I ask John to reflect back on his career so far and think about what his proudest moment has been, as well as what advice he has for other barbers looking to build their careers as he has:

“Most people don’t get to share their career with their family, it’s separate, so the fact that my Mum is my mentor and I can share my stage with her is a great feeling.

For the barber striving to be great – respect your journey. Invest. Put back into you, what someone else put into you. If you were at class for three hours then you should practice at home for four hours. Be a solution not a problem. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”

 

Wise words from a very wise man who has given us a lot of food for thought! You can follow John’s work on Instagram, as @popular_nobody, showcasing his striking work. While you’re there, don’t forget to follow my profile, @larrythebarberman, for more interviews with exceptional barbers like John – you can also see all my interviews at the Barber.TV YouTube channel – see you there.

Please follow and like us:
avatar

Barber: Tyler Trotter of Clean Clean Cut Grooming rose from Prison to Platform Barber

It’s no secret our industry is booming!  Every day, more talented people are building successful barbering careers, and I love bringing you their stories.

I never thought a barbering story would start in jail in the southern United States, with a drug-addicted, homeless young man, serving a one-year term for robbing a druggist.

But many stories start at rock bottom, and that jail cell was rock bottom just a few years ago for Knoxville, Tennessee-based Tyler Trotter, whose brilliant recovery was capped off when the young man with the fierce red beard appeared onstage at Premier Orlando.

“I don’t think that has soaked in yet,” he told me when we sat down for an interview. “That I am here at Orlando Premier and I am a platform barber – it’s amazing!”

It was a coincidence that I’d met up with Tyler at the Premiere. We hadn’t planned an interview. But he graciously agreed to spend some time with me so I could share with you.

I was eager to hear more of his one-of-a-kind story. “I was penniless and homeless,” the recently certified Master Barber told me of his jail time.  “I’d lost my children to Protective Services; I served a year locked up 23 hours a day, going through withdrawal.”

“And it was all because of my choices, my drug addiction,” he continued. “I lost everything that was important to me. Most importantly, I lost respect for myself.  I had no idea who I was.”

“Pain is a really good teacher and motivator,” he added with a smile.

If you are one of his more than 6,000 YouTube subscribers, you know Tyler brings it with unsparing honesty, a trait winning him more barbering fans on social media every day.

“I couldn’t stop using drugs,” he said bluntly. “When I got arrested and was locked up … desperation took over. I decided I can’t do this. I didn’t know how to get a job, I didn’t know how to keep a job, I didn’t know how to pay bills, I didn’t know how to do anything, and I was ready to give up.”

He said a last-minute call to a local addiction help center introduced him to the 12-step recovery program and to a spiritual side he had long neglected.

“I started to find out who I was and started to believe in myself,” he told me. “I found out I was extremely ambitious. I had a desire to be successful in life;  to be a great husband and a great father, so I started trying different things.”

He recovered his sobriety and worked as a counselor at an addiction treatment center (“It was fantastic!” he recalls).  He reconciled with his wife; his two children were back in his life.  His family was soon expecting a third child.

 

“Our financial situation meant I couldn’t continue working as a counselor,” he smiles. “We agreed I’d become a stay-at-home Dad.’

And that’s how it started: former inmate and stay-at-home Dad giving haircuts to his kids.

“Giving haircuts was special to me, it was a moment of nurturing,” he says. “One day, my son says, ‘Can I have a fauxhawk?’  I didn’t know how to do it, and a little voice inside – my conscience, and I believe God speaks to me through my conscience  –  said, ‘I wish I could cut it the way he wanted it.’ So I went on YouTube to look at different haircut videos.”

And he never looked back.

“After the fauxhawk video, I wanted to watch the bald fade video, and after that, I wanted to watch the other haircut videos, and I thought, ‘Yeah, this looks fun!”

“I watched student barber YouTube journeys.  I got excited, and this passion and ambition started snowballing inside me.”

After stitching together funding, Tyler was soon studying at the Knoxville Institute of Hair Design and You Tubing every step.

“I had watched other barber students document their journey, and I found value in it, so I said ‘I am going to start right now.’  My first video is me before I even owned any clippers, saying, ‘I am going to be a barber. Watch this!’”

“I documented and blogged my entire experience through barber school. I did reviews on all the clippers and all the tools that I saw,” he told me. “And I continue today.”

“If a barber wants to know how to be successful,” he said, switching to his current YouTube offerings, “I do my best to document my victories as well as my failures.  I document the process of what it takes. I document the hard work.  I document the time away from my wife and kids. I document the grunt work and the labor, scrubbing the rust off the chairs that are going into my shop.”

“A lot of people share the glory,” he concludes, “but they don’t share the story.”

Besides his strength, determination, ambition and love for the industry (“I want to breathe everything barber and pursue it”), Tyler’s belief in relationships shines through. One of his most important bonds is with fellow American and Barber Society Administrator Christopher Burke.

I recently interviewed Christopher for my channel, where he went out of his way to mention Tyler as a top mentee.

Tyler told me he met Chris through sheer doggedness, peppering Burke with questions via social media while a student.

“Christopher not only answered me, he showed me how to hold a pair of clippers in a comment thread by taking pictures,” Tyler recalls with amazement.  “Him being a busy man and me just a student – there were 9,000 members in the Barber Society – for him to take the time to show me these things, I didn’t want it to go to waste.”

Tyler realized his path to success was simple. Not easy, of course, but not complicated.

“When Chris gave me advice,” he says enthusiastically, “even if I didn’t like it or didn’t want to do it, I did it anyway.”

“To be successful, I have to listen to the people who have already attained success.  I need to do the things they are telling me to do or the things they are sharing with me, and Chris, man, he has never stopped helping me.”

Tyler’s ambition and drive have already taken him far. He developed his own beard oil while he was a student, giving it away to class mates and almost immediately becoming overwhelmed by demand.

“It is all essential oils so your beard absorbs it,” Tyler said.  “Plus it takes care of the most important part of your beard, which is the skin and the follicle the hair grows out of.”

“I can’t give you a wholesale price on 50 bottles a month right now because I don’t have time to make it, I can’t meet the demand,” Tyler said. “I still make it myself in my kitchen.  I still mix it in my blender. There is just no time to make it that way much longer, and I am looking at mass manufacturing that will preserve the integrity of the ingredients.”

Not a bad problem to have for someone who just got a license two years ago!

From a man who has seen so much hardship and then so much success I wanted to know how Tyler views the industry, and what thoughts he might share with other barbers.

“If you want to become a barber, find barbers,” he said firmly. “Go to shops, look at what they do, look at YouTube videos, make sure it is what you want to do.  If you continue to aspire, ask somebody to show you how, and when they show you how, do what they show you to do.”

“You don’t just wake up one day and know how to be a barber,” he continued. “You have to do something you have not done before. If you want to see something you have never seen, you have to go places you have never been.”

“So get a mentor, develop relationships, and if the first person, the second person, the third person you reach out to don’t reach back, keep going because if you don’t continue to reach out, you guarantee you are never going to find that relationship.”

“I suggest you focus on people and focus on yourself.  Character first, then business.”

That last line is as good a slogan for barbering as I’ve ever heard.  Words of wisdom from Tyler Trotter and words of thanks from me, Larry the Barberman.  It was a great interview and a privilege to meet such an inspiring figure.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Tyler as much as I enjoyed talking with him.  Be sure to check out our entire interview on my YouTube @LarrytheBarberman.

Until next time, happy barbering!

Please follow and like us: