Rough Stages of Hair Growth

Winter is coming and, during the colder months, I prefer the hair on my head and face be long. The problem with that is the time it takes for it to successfully get there. Last week, I decided to just deal with it. Let it be. The beards that so many love don’t come over night for many of us. For a guy like me, a beard could take weeks or months of unruly growth to reach its full potential.

So, now is the time gents. October and November are the months to let it start growing. Get those rough stages over with, both on your hair and face, and give those patchy spots time to fill in in as No Shave November approaches and, subsequently, shows itself.

Oh, and I don’t recommend the completely unruly look if you’re A) in need of a new job or B) are happily employed by an organization that frowns upon long hair.

Click here for a GQ article on how to grow a thicker beard for the months to come.

 

 

 

Make growing healthy hair a priority.

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Neck n’ Neck Vintage Co.

A man’s wardrobe choices can make or break his entire career. But, what many don’t realize is, a man’s choice in accessories can make or break his entire wardrobe. Now, often, the most prominent accessory a man in business professional/formal attire is his tie. That being said, where do you think you ought to build your wardrobe’s versatility? If you guessed “From my tie rack,” you’re today’s winner.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetYou’ve likely heard of my go-to groomer Vince Jamael, of Adrian Fanus Grooming, Inc. (and if you haven’t, just click this whole sentence and you’ll get taken to a handful of posts on this site dealing with his greatness). One thing you may not know about Vince is that he’s not only a well-groomed groomer, but he’s also something like a style icon in his own circle. Always well-dressed for any occasion, Vince is constantly asked where he gets his threads. And, more often than you’d believe, his answer is “From XYZ Vintage Clothing Shop.” Much of his style is vintage with an intentional new school flare. Head to toe, the brother is sharp and I don’t say that about everyone.

I can recall the year after I graduated from undergrad and was sleeping on Vince’s living room couch (times were tough but look what God has done five years later), and I saw that he had this dope tie. Now, I didn’t have any skinny ties in my wardrobe at the time and, not only was this one skinny but it was a vibrant shade of red and made of cotton. Far outside my realm of comfort but it had my attention. Vince caught me checking it out and said I could have it if I wanted it. That was my first step to exploring more nontraditional styles of neckwear.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetFast forward to present day and Vince has started his own neckwear company, Neck n’ Neck Vintage Co., based out of Brooklyn. His business model is a unique one, in which he carefully curates only the most exclusive neckties from vintage shops, both across the United States and in his international travels. His goal is to provide his clientele with the caliber of tie that their grandfather would look for at a reasonable price. The curation, purchase, and restoration of these timeless pieces are responsibilities that fall squarely on Vince’s shoulders alone, but ones that he accepts.

“My passion for helping young men and women feel their best when they put on a necktie is helping to make this dream a reality,” Vince said when asked why he’s investing so much into this vision. “I recall looking at classic photos of gentlemen from older days and thinking ‘What if we combined their knowledge of proper dress with this generation’s fashion sense? We’d be unstoppable.’ So here I am, trying to create a brand that is truly timeless.”

Initially doing private consultations to present clients with his neckwear, Vince is now able to be contacted on Instagram at @vtg_ties. As the brand grows, he will develop more avenues through which his pieces can be purchased but right now, he prefers “personal style consultations to cold cash-based sales.”

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You can’t put a tie on without a shirt without looking like a Chippendale, so get the shirt and trousers together but, when you’ve got those two checked off, make sure your neck speaks to a level of distinction without breaking the bank. The best way to do that? Grab a distinguishing necktie from Neck n’ Neck Vintage Co. and let it tell a story without you having to say a word.

Make quality neckwear a priority.

The Haircut

Last week, I was looking over my finances. About 25% of the money I budget monthly goes to haircuts. I spend $16 on a cut, tip Jennifer about $4, get two cuts a month, and grab a complimentary shape up in between, for which I tip another $4 or $5.

I’m dropping $50 per month on haircuts (double that number on months I go to New York) and I shouldn’t be. So, in September, I’m investing in a set of basic clippers. $20 right now will save me at least $200 every year from now on. I can do a haircut and a shape up each month at the barbershop, and clean myself up in between.

Looking good is important to me. Saving money is important to me. In order to make money, I have to look good, but in order to look good, I have to save money. Lines must be drawn and compromises must be made.

 

Make looking your best a priority (but do so responsibly).

Every Look Isn’t For Everyone

Yesterday, I went to get a haircut and, last night, I decided I needed to clean up my beard (ok, what really happened is Desirée told me I looked like I was a person without a home). I remember in high school when I wanted for my sideburns to connect to my goatee so badly. It took a while. Then I wanted a thick beard. That took a while too. Finally, I was hoping for a thick and full beard. That started to come in… but only on one side. But I was praying hard for that second side so I took my little mustard seed and planted it, only to have Desirée and my go-to grooming specialist Vince Jamael tell me after three or four months of waiting that the sides just weren’t going to even out.

There is a lesson in this: when it comes to style, be it grooming or dress, every look isn’t for everyone. Just because something looks cool on someone doesn’t mean it will on me. Prince made millions with holes in the back of his trousers. If I walk into work like that, I will likely walk out in handcuffs. Sometimes, it’s your body type that’s not made for a certain look. Other times it’s your profession or workplace culture. And, still, other times, it’s your personality. I’ll be the first to admit that, though I love tailored clothes, there are some that I’ll step into and say “These slacks are too tight and, even though they ‘fit’ I’ll feel and look awkward wearing them out of my front door.”

Find looks that work for you and complement your features. Everyone can look decent (at worst) once they spend some time learning what colors, cuts, and angles accent their natural physical gifts. The problem is many of us want to look like Jay Z or Beyoncé in their clothes when we were made to look like Jack and Jill in our own. Let them inspire you but never try to be them. You’re doing yourself and the rest of the world a disservice.

And, shoot, who knows? Maybe if we try to be and look more like ourselves, we could be as successful, if not more. You’ll never know how great you could be until you embrace who you are.

 

Make finding your style a priority.

The Corporate Sauce

Vince: What kind of cut do you want, bro?
Me: I’m your canvas. You know where I work. Make it dope, but make it professional.
Vince: Cool. I’m gonna give you that corporate sauce.

The Thursday before last, I flew up to NYC for a haircut… Ok, I lied. I’m not at that point in my life yet. But I did fly up to NY for my younger cousin’s high school graduation and I can’t go to the city without hitting Adrian Fanus Grooming (AFG) in Brooklyn.

Ten years ago next month, I met a young man who will likely be my go to barber whenever we’re in the same city and will certainly be one of my best friends for life. Vince Jamael is the most talented grooming professional I’ve ever worked with. That’s not to negate the skills of my two go-to barbers in NC. But, in the decade that I’ve known him, the exponential growth I’ve seen Vince exhibit has me excited to see where he will be a decade from now. He went from cutting in the bathrooms of Phillips-Hawkins Residence Hall for something like $5 to charging a respectable $xx, before my tip (and my cut was on the lower end of the price scale). But back to the cut. 

Old Vince

Circa 2008

Now, before I tell you to go visit the shop next time you’re in NYC, know that AFG believes you get what you pay for. Because their grooming experiences aren’t cheap, their grooming experiences aren’t cheap. Their experiences are by appointment only and these professionals are on time. They know what they need to do, what they have time to do, and, while they will not rush through your cut, they will make sure that you look like you had an artist with a very detailed eye just work on your appearance. You walk into the inconspicuous shop and the receptionist shows you to the waiting room. But, before leaving you, she presents you with their beverage options and returns with something refreshing to sip on during your brief wait. Within a short time, your grooming professional comes to bring you to his/her chair and the work begins.

FullSizeRenderNow, this being my second time in the AFG shop since Vince started working there, I’ve been asked what type of cut I want and my request was followed to a T. They make sure you get what you want. But, knowing that Vince is a visionary, this trip, I told him to do what he wanted. I had let me hair grow for about four weeks so that he would have a very rough canvas to work with. I only gave him two instructions: work his magic and don’t get me fired.

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The moment the clippers hit my head, my spirits were lifted. There are very few things that make a man feel better than a fresh cut, especially after going a few weeks without one. Thanks to Vince’s low cost cuts in college, I’d grown accustomed to a touch up every week and a cut every other week so I was beginning to feel like Pookie from New Jack City. After getting the length right, he took care of my hairline, which begins looking rough when it’s gone two weeks with no attention. Finally, he put a classic blade to my hairline and my facial hair, adding that literal razor sharp look to my cut. The cut concluded with a warm towel, a smile, and a handshake.

IMG_8063Now, sadly, I’m not flying back and forth to BK to get a cut every other week but I do have another close friend who lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan, and goes to AFG regularly. We’ve compared notes and he says that his experiences are as good as mine are. To me, that says that each of their grooming professionals pays the same attention to detail and treats clients with the same respect as one of my closest friends does for me. You can be the best dressed, most articulate person in the world, but without a great haircut and facial hair that looks intentional, you run the risk of not getting a job or even losing the one you have.

 

While you may not be able to make it to AFG, that is the type of service all young professionals should look for in a grooming professional, be it a barber or a beautician. You need someone who knows what you do for a living, what you’re looking to do in the future, who can make your hair look like it’s a part of your personality, and still make you look great for a night on the town. Your grooming professional should be your friend who you just happen to pay (and tip well) to make you look awesome. Someone who, if you’re looking for it, can hook you up with the corporate sauce.

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“Spread love. It’s the Brooklyn way.”

Make looking good a priority.

What Do They See?

I’m not advocating that you have a professional photo shoot every time you dress up. But if, in 2017, your LinkedIn profile photograph looks like it was taken on a Motorola RAZR, I’m going to need you to update it. The same is true for a résumé or a cover letter or a blog. If it doesn’t look like it was professionally done, you won’t look professional.

Right or wrong, these days as much emphasis is placed on how someone looks as is on what they know. So, whether we’re talking about the layout of your résumé or the aesthetic appeal of your brand’s Instagram content, employers and potential clients will always judge you based on the way you look online before they ever meet you off line.

Make sure you’re presenting yourself in the most intentional manner possible, while paying attention to whether or not your look aligns with what your target market is looking for. And, if you’re having a tough time doing that, reach out to me or someone else who takes their brand seriously. I’m definitely here as a resource.

 

Make professional development a priority.

Maintaining Relationships

This past weekend, I had nothing to do and no one to hang out with (Desirée and her sorority sisters took a road trip), so I left work on Friday and hit the road for Charlotte. On my way there, I was posting periodically to my Instagram story and one of my friends of almost a decade, Bianca Payton of S&S Associates, shot me a message letting me know that one of her clients, Opera Carolina, would be having an early screening of “The Girl Of The West” that evening and she invited me to come as a “Tweet Seater” (blogger). I haven’t been to the opera in years but it is always nice to immerse yourself in settings that you aren’t regularly in. Not only did I get to see an awesome performance with spectacular music in an amazing venue (get tickets by clicking here), I was also able to meet some movers and shakers in the entrepreneurial and creative sphere, like photographer and re-branding consultant Josh Galloway and footwear designer La’Cario Sellers, owner of Customs by Cario. After the opera, my LB, author Brady S. Moore and I connected with our college friend, marketing specialist Brittany Maul.  Bianca and Josh met up with us there a bit later and we closed the bar.

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The next morning, after a 2+ mile run on the south side of Charlotte, I went to visit family and then took some time to catch up with my friend and the best barber in North Carolina, Tim Doe of No Grease Exclusive in uptown Charlotte. I had about 30 minutes to kill so I took my camera bag and shot around downtown before grabbing an awesome brunch w/ Brittany at Mimosa Grill. I closed out my trip by trying to catch an NBA playoff game with Sean Johnson of Toshiba Business Solutions, Cory Bennett of XChange NC, Branden Reid of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, and Tony McNeal of Bank of America (I say “trying” because we spent the time catching up and missed the game in its entirety).

Thing is, the game was just wishful thinking. That last chill session with friends is what the trip was about one thing: catching up. As those of you who’ve been rocking with me for a while know, I lived in Charlotte for four years after graduating from UNCG. I loved the city but ended up moving back to Durham to be closer to family. Though the Triangle will always have a place in my heart and it is great for Desirée and me right now, eventually, I hope we get the opportunity to move back to the greater Charlotte area. That being said, though it is years away, maintaining relationships in Charlotte will be key to my success as an entrepreneur. And, though phone calls and text messages are nice, there’s nothing like taking some time to go hang out with those in your circle who are in the physical area that you’re looking to be in. When I came to Charlotte the first time, I had an aesthetically appealing résumé with no experience and I was still developing my network. If I return, I will come with a network that opens doors and experience that closes deals. But to have those doors opened, you have to invest in your relationships on the front end.

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Make professional development a priority.