TAKING THE WINNING SHOT

COVER STORY
GAULIEN SMITH

PHOTOGRAPHY: STUDIO ONE
BY: james e. causey 

 

"I want them to look at me and other men in the shop so they can see what happens when you work hard and stay focused"

-Gaulien smith 


 

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Smith has been cutting hair since he was 12. His five brothers and sister served as his first clients. Thirty years argeter those initial cuts, he is one of the most recognizable barbers in the city. His shop is the only one of its kind, located in a historical bank dated back to the 1930's. With 25 foot ceilings, 26 barbers and 4 stylists, customers can sit in the original seats from the old MECCA Arena while waiting their turn.

He loves the Bucks, and cuts many of the players and assistant coaches hair. He also loves his community and he serves as a role model for the thousands of children - especially young black males- whose heads he has shaped, faded or lined up over the years. Sitting in Smith's office, he reminisced on how far he has come. 

When he leased the vacant brick building in 1998, it was boarded up eyesore, but Smith saw the potential to not only open up a shop, but grow his business. 

His father was a carpenter and he taught Smith and his siblings how to do everything from building cabinets to installing floors. His humble beginnings started with sweat equity and three barbers. Over the last 20 years, Smith has assisted 14 barbers in starting their own shops. 

Good black barbershops are a bastion for the black community. They serve as a place where you can step out of the chair looking like you are ready for the prom or the office from the neck up. It also serves as a place where you can get the latest news, gossip and community happenings. 

Smith said he wouldn't trade his barbering experience for anything and although he could easily sit back and let the shop run itself, he takes pride in being a role model for the children who visit his shop. 

" I want them to look at me and other men in the shop so they can see what happens when you work hard and stay focused," he said.