|HeadLiners Episode 14 |Transcribed by Mr. Fademup|
As this episode of ATG goes to print. There is a historical Barbers Round Table meeting scheduled at the August 2010 Bronner Brother Show in Atlanta. The Round Table will be the second held. The first went down in February in the ATL. The event will be held at Justin’s Restaurant, hosted by Curtis Smith. The rest is history……..
The things and items many in this society regard or equate with success, take on a different meaning and identity when we reach a certain point in life. Those material things just aren’t important. Health and family leap to the forefront of your priority list. The task that you do the most throughout your day is considered your work. Many place this job, in most cases, above all on that priority list for many different reasons without realizing. The subject of our feature has run the gauntlet of highs and lows in his career. One of the most notable is his status as the official Barber to one of the planets most recognized entertainers, Sean “Diddy” Combs. Despite the notoriety that comes with this position, Curtis Smith has remained grounded and humbled in all aspects of life. Even the success of his business ventures. The many magazine features, and popular product line [Xotics], nothing could pre-pare him for the unforeseen circumstances he would endure in life. Curtis has faced and conjured each of these elements with the same cerebral resilience.
New York City is known for its’ bright lights and larger than life atmosphere. If you’ve been to New York and traveled downtown to Times Square on Broadway and 47th street in the past few years, then you have seen the enormous billboard of Sean “Diddy” Combs for his clothing line. The billboard stands 172x54 feet. With these measurements, the billboard easily attracts millions of viewers a week and can be seen from a great distance. The ad was put together to show the plateau reached by Mr. Combs and his company. The compliment to the entire campaign is the Mohawk haircut worn by Mr. Combs. This signature artwork gives direct reference to his creative Hair consultant, New York native, Curtis Smith. Curtis is the originator of this style of Mohawk. “That’s my proudest piece of work. Nobody had done a cut like that before I did. Me and Puff sat down and did research and I put my own spin on it [Mohawk].” says the world renowned Barber.
1986 marked the beginning of Curtis Smiths’ amazing roller coaster ride. When he was on the receiving end of a haircut with designs created by a friend, he felt he could’ve made the finished product better. Embodied with tremendous motivation, Curtis is the kind of person that loves to see a project from start to finish. Those are the character traits and definition of what a Barber is. He borrowed a pair of clippers and began to use his extraordinary gift of creativity in a new situation that would eventually be THE COMPLETE TRANSFORMATION of a legend in the game. Curtis began to cut his childhood friends. After a few experiences, he realized that he had some serious talent with the clippers. Motivated by his results gave Curtis the confidence to venture out and seek more clientele. He began to service his entire block. The word soon circulated and his neighborhood became his walking business cards. After months of practicing, Curtis acquired his own style and method with the clippers; he soon became responsible for cutting his entire area. His name now revolved heavy in the streets and his Barber future seemed wide open. If there was a conversation about the Barber game, Curtis Smiths’ name had to have been mentioned.
After high school, Curtis decided to work in a shop and hold off on college. He was given an opportunity by Ramona Mitchell, owner of [Secret Images Barbershop] located in Harlem, NY. After six months in the shop, Curtis began to feel discouraged because the money he generated wasn’t what he thought it would be. Most of his clientele was from the Bronx and he was now in Harlem. This location dilemma resulted in Curtis decision to go back to school and pursue his education. While in school, he was afforded the opportunity to work at a shop in his own neighborhood. It was an offer he couldn’t pass up. The shop was [Marble Head Unisex] and it was owned by his mentor, Roosevelt Spivey. As a kid growing up, Curtis would get his haircut by Roosevelt but the whole time he would be watching and inheriting key pointers. Now he would be able to work and learn directly with his mentor in the shop. The very 1st day on the job at Marble Head set the tone for things to come. Curtis showed up to the shop followed by 15 or more guys. When he entered the unisex, confusion set in by the entourage but Curtis quickly relaxed the situation by explaining that they were all clients with him. The timing of the matter couldn’t have been better. This was a slow period in the shop. Curtis employment and huge following was the shot in the arm the business needed. The benefit of this 1st day would be felt for years to come. The Barbers in the shop that may not have had a larger clientele base, now was receiving the overflow and connections of the following that Curtis had. He was showing the Barbers in the shop different customer methods and procedures that helped everyone to make money. Today when Curtis returns to the shop where it all started, the staff gives him plenty of “Barber Love” for his energy and enthusiasm he put forth while working alongside of them. He still remains just one of the guys.
The early 90’s established changes in the way we would view our culture. Hip-Hop had taken the turn to becoming the force it is today. Television saw the birth of new shows that established the next generation of stars. [Def Comedy Jam] hit the air and took off running. The show featured DJ Kid Capri, who is arguably one of the greatest DJs of all time. His popularity soared with fans that normally didn’t get a chance to see or hear him perform. The timing of his [Kid Capri] success coincided with the relationship shared with Curtis. The two are childhood friends and chose to put their heads together and come up with a business they felt could stand the test of time. In 1994 they opened [Eboneefe Unisex], one of the only unisex at the time. “There were a lot of Barbershops and Salons open but very few unisex that I knew of.” Says Curtis. The shop flourished due in large part to both men success in their chosen fields. Everyone wanted to see and be seen in the shop. During their stretch as business partners from 1994-2004, the shop saw all the hottest celebrities, pretty women, cool guys and social figures of its day. The success of the unisex allowed Curtis to revamp his business portfolio and open two other shops. One in the Bronx, and the other in Fort Lauderdale. Times were good, business was moving well and Curtis circle of high profile friends and connections had grew to major per portions, but it was about to expand. (When things are going well, we sometime ask the question: Can things get any better?)
When a good friend of Curtis appeared to be in the right place at the right time, the answer to this question would become an emphatic YES. Tinka, Curtis friend and P. Diddys’ cousin, overheard Diddy inquire about the need for a good Barber. Diddy previously heard about Curtis but didn’t know how to make contact with him. Tinka set up the meeting between the two. Curtis was about to embark on the meeting of a lifetime. He initially thought he was to interview to become the Official Barber to Bad Boy Artist. When he arrived, he quickly found out the meeting was to become the official Barber to P. Diddy himself. After a few questions and a demonstration of Curtis remarkable skills, Diddy proclaimed (I want you to be my personnel Barber for life.) “I didn’t believe it, I was like, yeah, sure man. He was serious, and here we are twelve years later.” Explains Curtis. He now would be a part of the entertainment world, but still in the capacity of a Barber. Television appearances, traveling the globe, meeting and servicing celebrities from all walks of life have now become second nature to Curtis. Who would’ve ever thought a Barber could reach such a status without sacrificing who they are or what they do. Celebrities receive the same service as his regular customers back in New York. Not all Barbers have the ability to remain humble in the spot light. Curtis has found that even keel to operate from. Life is good. (If there were a crystal ball that allowed you to see what your future was going to be, would you want to take a look?)
The years following his meeting with Diddy would have Curtis seeing places and meeting people he never could’ve imagined. His business world was going great and his future looked as large as his clientele list. By January of 2005, Curtis had dissolved his other businesses and decided to open one shop, just for his clients. He would incorporate the services of his sister-in-law Jamila into this business. Just when you think life is fair, it will give you a reality check to bring you back to earth. In January of 2006, Curtis made a routine trip to the doctor after complaining of not feeling healthy. After a physical and some test, Curtis received the diagnosis no one is ever prepared for. He was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. Bladder Cancer is the 4th most common Cancer to develop in men and the 9th most common in women. Approximately 90% of the cancer patients are treated with surgery or a combination of surgery and therapy. An average of 9,000 deaths occurs annually due to this form of cancer, but in most cases, bladder cancer is usually curable, it has a 5 year survival rate of 90%. His initial thought was; This is it. This is what it comes down to? You never know when it’s your turn to go. He pondered on his future. The doctor gave Curtis the silver lining of hope needed to continue his fight. Even though they caught it [Bladder Cancer] late, there was still a great chance of a full recovery. The trade off was that his Barber career would but all be put on hold for now. He maintained a couple of exclusive clients during this critical period. The challenges faced in this life will always force a new outlook and path that must be taken. Curtis began to re-think his strategy. “When a man feels like he is on his last days, he starts to become closer to his spiritual side.” Explained Curtis. He started to watch Creflo Dollar every night that fueled his spirituality. His diet changed drastically. He cut out rice, bread and greasy and fried foods. He began to drinking juice and eating lots of vegetables. His chemotherapy treatments were tough. He did, however, find solace in planting a garden at his home. “I wanted to build things to look forward to. The garden allowed me to always come back tomorrow, I didn’t think about being sick.” Curtis speaks on his treatment. He attributes his family support and the focus on laughter as a major part of his rehabilitation. He watched anything funny, from movies to stand-ups, anything that would bring a smile to his face helped. It would be a total rehabilitation of the mind and body that would send his cancer into remission. Curtis now faced to task of deciding his next move. He came to the conclusion that his life as he had known it before his illness was gone. The burning desire to continue cutting was over powering and lead him to working in a friend’s shop one day a week to service his regular customers. He soon re-gained his strength and moved forward with his life. He has walked away from his illness with a better appreciation of living for the moment. “Even though I live for longevity, I realized I could be gone next month, I could be gone next year. I’m not going to be here forever, so I should enjoy the time that I’m here.” Curtis reveals.
Curtis has dazzled fans with his imaginative clipper creations that have been seen in videos and award shows for many years. He has also introduced a new word to the Barber vocabulary. That word is Xotics. Curtis familiarized the Barber world with this term when he presented his new line to the masses. [It’s not just a product, it’s a lifestyle. Go Natural] is the slogan used to describe the all natural commodities. The Xotics products are unique within themselves. The Sweet Jamila is a unique union of shea butter and oils that heal and moisturize the scalp, hair and body. The Shave Therapy boasts an all natural way to improve skin condition without irritation. His Pyur Shea contains essential vitamins that act as a natural sunscreen. The good Lif natural body moisturizer and Body Melt helps rehydrate and nourish the skin. Curtis came up with the product line after taking a survey from his customers of what they needed help with their hair and skin. After taking inventory of products used by his customers, Curtis decided to come up with his own all natural formula for his clients. After receiving great feedback, Curtis planned to take his new product to market. After a few years of testing and trade show education, his hard work began to pay off. He started to use Xotics on everyone he came in contact with. Athletes and celebrities alike raved about the line. “I wanted to use the best product to put on your skin. I wanted a product that worked and was natural. It’s what you exactly want.” Curtis explains his ideology behind Xotics. To help push his new line, Curtis has incorporated the help of Barbers from across the country that are formally known as (Team Xotics), they are: Donald “DC” Conley, Natalie Monnie, Chaz “Ceehaz” Hazzlit, Jimmi Italy, Huebert Guy, Eric “Pacino” Roa, Dwayne Thompson, Lee “Blades” Burgess, Meek “Socialyte” Shearer, Georgia Smith, Tanisha Ochelle, James Wealthy, Christina Goree, Malcolm “Noonie” Patterson, Mark “DJ Kix” Fortier, Eric “GodsfavoriteBarber” Figueroa, Boogs the Barber, Terrell Styles, Jackie Brown, Alex Campbell, Jesse Lima, Rocky Coello, and they’re impact in the industry is being felt. Stop by their booth at Bronner Brothers August of 2010 and you’ll see why. Future plans include Stylist products, a line of straight razors and complete manufacturing of products. Curtis is cementing his legacy in the industry by creating new things that allows it [the industry] to grow. He wants to continue to motivate individuals to go outside their comfort zone and try new endeavors. Curtis continues to live life to the fullest due in part to THE COMPLETE TRANSFORMATION of a true legend in the game.
|*The most common symptoms of bladder cancer are blood in the urine. The others include frequent urination, strong urges to urinate and burning while urinating. If you or someone you love has experienced these symptoms, please seek medical assistance immediately.|