By Arielle Johnson
The grooming business is definitely a business that continues to thrive in good times and manages to make more than just enough to make ends meet, when the economy slows down. We may have to start highlighting at least one barber or beautician a month on a regular basis, to show the world that this has to be the most overlooked segment of the business owning population you can imagine, when it comes to business acumen. Most barbers and beauticians are often holding down their grooming business and at least one other business; sometimes several.
Last week, we had an opportunity to spend some time with groomer, Vance Murphy. As soon as he begins to speak, you realize he’s and intellectual. And if you don’t keep your focus during the interview, your mind may start to drift off as you start contemplating, what road lead him to grooming instead of teaching.
First and foremost, Mr. Murphy is a proud graduate of Prairie View A&M and will let anyone know how fortunate he was to attend PVAMU as a opposed to one any of the other non-HBCUs he could have attended. “I walked away from PVAMU with a knowledge of my history, my lineage, and a sense of commitment to my community; something I would not have been able to gain anywhere else.”
Mr. Murphy was pursuing a career in elementary school education at Prairie View. He wanted to fill in that gap of qualified black male role models teaching our young children in school. However he already had the entrepreneur bug and it took his best friend to bring those qualities and desires to the surface. He was a representation of his consciousness incarnate. Vance was forced to weigh the pros and cons long before he allowed his emotions to inextricably tie him to population of youth, that relied on him to bring out the very best in them. His buddy kept telling him, “Man, you know you’re not going to want to get tied down to a job. You need something that will allow you to remain free. You don’t want a salary cap.”
Maybe part of the reason why Mr. Murphy wanted to have an opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of elementary school children, was because he lost his father when he was 12. Intuitively, his Mom knew she had to get her son around some positive black men who had it together and could literally, help her with raising her son. She helped fill the void of him having an absent father by getting him involved with sports. And by doing so, she helped her son get over that awkward hump we call the “pre-pubescent years,” when the male child’s mind, body and self-determination collide. There were positive black male role models there, at the right moment to build a fence around him, nurture him in the way only a man can and properly guide him into manhood.
Knowing all this, somehow, Mr. Murphy was swayed in the direction his best friend was guiding him in, and decided to open a clothing shop in Waco, Texas instead of becoming an educator. He describes these years as an entrepreneur, 2004-2007, as being a very prosperous and exciting time in his life.
But as successful as he was with his business, he was not connecting with other men in the manner in which he imagined. Therefore he was not fulfilling his heart’s aspiration to the fullest, of being an influencer.
Mr. Murphy decided to go to barber college in 2009 and graduated in 2010. Someone put a bug in his ear, and that was all he could see until he completed the credit portion of his training. In the grooming business, training never seems to end as new innovations, products and styles are always being introduced.
In a sea of barbers/groomers, we asked Mr. Murphy what sets him apart from other barbers. Like really, what would make someone sit down and wait until your chair opens up to be groomed by you on Saturday when they got places to go and things to do. When Mr. Murphy responded, we felt silly about the question we asked because he told us he has a special clientele, and they have appointments. “I’m going after the business professional. I’ve been a groomer now for 7 years and I pay close attention to detail. My clients get a shampoo, conditioning and a massage.” Two years ago Mr. Murphy added styling of women’s hair to the list of the services he offers.
Mr. Murphy is such a stickler for details that he is planning to open a grooming shop with different levels of membership. And while we don’t want to reveal too much of his vision until it has been fulfilled by him, we are dying to see what that cigar room membership package is going to be looking like once the blueprint is laid out for his structure and floor plan. Until then, Mr. Murphy will continue to travel to international hair shows to brush up on his hair styling skills and discover those things that make up the nuances of a successful business that sets businesses within the same category apart from one another.
Mr. Vance Murphy is also the owner of a clothing line called, ‘My Passion Wakes Me Up.’
Mr. Murphy may not have ventured into the traditional schoolroom setting to educate young black males, but feels as though there is just as much of an opportunity to school our young boys and men when they walk into his place of business. Life skills and lessons can be taught anywhere, so why not have those lessons taught by a member of our community who has reached a certain level of success? Live a life with purpose and passion, so if you are ever hit with a devastating situation that pulls you down, it will only be for a moment, because your passion will awaken and revive you.
To see some of Mr. Murphy’s work, follow him on your Instagram @murph_da_groomer.
He grooms hair at Salons by JC located at 3701 S Cooper St, Arlington, TX 76015.