Stay up on the latest Chop it Up episodes and other En Root news.
BRUCE WAIGHT AND ROOTED TEAM COVERED IN VOYAGE DALLAS
Bruce Waight talks entrepreneurship, barbershop culture, and community with Voyage Dallas.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Bruce Waight.
Bruce Waight Sr. is a father, professional barber, community advocate, and visionary originally from San Antonio, TX and currently residing in Oklahoma City, OK.
After graduating from barber college in 2011, Bruce received his professional barbering license from the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering. Bruce has over nine years of experience as a professional barber specializing in classic barbering services for all hair types.
In 2014, Bruce, along with co-founder Vanessa Morrison; a non-profit professional and graduate from the OU College of Architecture’s Regional and City Planning Graduate Program, wanted to change how people experience and access the barbershop space and culture. They began their journey with a vision of eliminating obstacles and barriers, such as: lack of transportation, foster youth living in shelter settings, mobility limitations, and more that make it difficult for some people to get to the barbershop.
In 2015, they purchased a 1960 Airstream Landyacht and, with the support of many, were able to fund, restore, and transition their vintage trailer into Oklahoma’s first full service, self-sustaining barbershop. Bruce was also integral in getting legislation passed to help make mobile barbershops legal in the state of Oklahoma and launched in July of 2017. Bruce was then appointed by the Governor’s office to serve on the Oklahoma Barber and Cosmetology Board and currently sits as the Barber representative and the Legislative Liaison.
In 2017, Bruce expanded his entrepreneurial career and opened up his first storefront barbershop, Rooted Barber + Shop, with a mission of providing an inclusive barbershop and community space for OKC residents. Rooted hosts Oklahoma’s first Artist in Residency Barbershop program, hosts a myriad of community events, and more.
Additionally, Bruce is the co-founder of Cut it Forward; a non-profit dedicated to providing culturally specific hair and skin care resources for foster and adopted youth of color, and their caregivers. He is also the founder of the Hair Collaborative; a project he is launching to provide a full-service barbershop and a collective of volunteers providing free hair services at the Homeless Alliance’s Day shelter.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur in general are time limitations, finding the right support, and trekking new territory. There is no blueprint for business ownership; especially when your business model is innovative or hasn’t ever been done before in your community. It takes a lot of risk, confidence, sleepless nights, and hand-shaking, and no one really ever teaches you how to develop those skills unless you went to school for that. I now have contacts in my network I can call to discuss investments all the way to friends I can call on if I need a new light installed at my shop. It truly takes a community to be a successful entrepreneur – you can’t do it alone and I am grateful for all of the support I have received and to be in a position to reciprocate that back.
Developing a schedule that not only allows me to do this work but to also step back and be able to dream big about future plans all while getting enough rest each night has also been a challenge, but it’s a balancing act that I’ve adjusted to. Some nights will just be longer than others – simple as that!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Rooted Barber + Shop – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am a barbershop owner by trade and a community advocate by passion, so everything I do in my business endeavors intersect those two worlds. I have the honor of owning and operating Rooted Barber + Shop and working alongside OKC’s best barbers in the game, I own and operate Oklahoma’s first licensed mobile barbershop: En Root, and I’m a member of some amazing initiatives that bring the hair industry into serving others. I believe keeping the community-centric to everything I do really sets my businesses apart from others. We’ve made the hair industry giving back trendier here in the city and it’s exciting to see other hair professionals now doing similar work when it comes to serving marginalized populations. Everyone needs a barber or stylist; whether it’s to get you fresh or to simply have someone to talk to. I am very proud of being able to show how we as hair professionals can not only give back with our money but with our skills and time.
Our motto at Rooted is “Cuts and Culture” and we have some innovative programming that is inspired by that theme. We’ve launched the first Artist in Residency program in a Black barbershop; where we give local artists of color a space to display and sell their work, we hosted a fashion show for a woman and Black-owned local clothing designer where she had over 100 people in attendance to showcase her new clothing line, we’ve done sport banquets, graduation ceremonies, live music and cocktails, and more. I believe it’s important to honor the barbershop’s historic and natural ability to be a true community space, and are working to create this culture in OKC to reflect that.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The future looks like strategic expansion and continuing to do things non-normatively!
Address: 3515 N. Classen Blvd. OKC, OK 73118
PLACEMAKING AND BARBERSHOP SPACES
Alumni and co-founder, Vanessa, along with co-founder and owner Bruce being highlighted for their work with En Root via Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma
Sacred Black Spaces: Placemaking Through a Mobile Barbershop
Check out co-founder, Vanessa Morrison, being featured in the Black and Urban blog highlighting her research on barbershops as community spaces.
Via Black and Urban
The Black Man’s Sanctuary
While a boy’s first professional haircut is one of the many rites of passage he will experience throughout his lifetime, Black barbershops are much more than just places to get fades and edge-ups. Since the fruition of these spaces pre-antebellum period, Black barbershops have been one of the few safe and sustainable businesses that Blacks could own and gather in for culture and community. Coined “the Black man’s sanctuary” by distinguished public figures such as Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison, barbershops serve as safe havens and stages for Black public life while fostering fellowship, connection, and much more on top of getting fresh.
The Black owned barbershop tells an important part of American history in the context of Black culture, entrepreneurship, and public space; and has long been due for more attention from urban planning academics and professionals. The Black barbershop organically congregates individuals and families in an enriching environment where people can intimately connect and have community. Even President Barack Obama was known for making visits to Black barbershops and beauty salons to strategically attract the Black vote. Other politicians have also utilized this culturally specific strategy knowing that when you’re in the Black barbershop you’re in the heart of the Black community.
While these spaces serve as critical cultural assets in their respective communities, many of them can be difficult for some to access. In my community (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), these shops oftentimes exist within an urban fabric of disinvestment, blight, and dated infrastructure such as broken sidewalks, awkwardly and dangerously placed public transit stops, and more. The elderly, physically challenged, and public transit dependent are disproportionately faced with these obstacles and barriers when orienting their way to the barbershop. These barriers not only make it challenging to access these professional services, but can isolate people from the cultural connections that take place specifically in these spaces.
The pictures below displays the physical challenges pedestrians must endure for basic services; from left-right, they include: walkways with major tripping hazards and flooding; bus stops with no ADA accommodations, pedestrian sidewalk, or basic amenities; and poor catch basin drainage facilities making it impossible for pedestrians to cross.
“The Black owned barbershop tells an important part of American history in context of Black culture, entrepreneurship, and public spaces; and has long been due for more attention from urban planning academics and professionals.”
— Vanessa Morrison
My once research project and now business, En Root Mobile Barbershop Company, explores place-making in Black barbershop spaces through the operation of a mobile, ADA accessible, 3-chair barbershop. The mission of En Root is to not only eliminate obstacles and barriers by bringing professional barbering services to neighborhoods, but to also to extend the physical space and culture of the barbershop to communities.
It’s More Than Just A Haircut
After quickly observing in my research that barbershop patrons go to these spaces for much more than just a haircut, using Photovoice and asset mapping research methodologies I critically explored these lived experiences further to further understand what people’s journeys were like when trying to access these spaces. My now-fiancé was building out En Root during my studies and we were able to reference my findings to utilize En Root to its best and highest use in specific community spaces.
My research revealed that because many of the Black barbershops in my community exist within forgotten areas of the city, that many people physically struggled getting to the barbershop. Participants I interviewed did as much as catch three buses and walked a quarter of a mile, rode their bike through stray dog-ridden neighborhoods, and ran across high speed streets with no crosswalk. These barriers collectively leave some patrons with little to no accessibility to these spaces, particularly for those who live in more rural areas. However, although the journey to the shop was cumbersome for most it was worth it to have access to this space and experience on a regular basis; further speaking volumes to the importance of these spaces.
Needs Assessment - Site Analysis
With these findings we developed a weekly parking model to reach different areas of our city that lacked a Black barbershop space. We solidified four different locations with property owners and collaborated with each location to compliment their business/community outreach efforts. One of our parking locations was at a “second chance” school where adults could go to earn their GED, special certifications, learn how to read, and more. Our barbers spoke with their students about the importance of professionalism and grooming, and created a space on their site where staff and students could have a community space outside of the classroom. Another parking location was at an apartment complex where we gave current and prospective residents discounted rates on services to incentivize their interest.
In our first five months we conducted 1,200 appointments with 219 new clients and traveled over 4,500 miles to reach these communities, not including special and charitable events we collaborated on such as a teen conference for foster youth, bringing the shop a foster group home and a homeless day shelter on a recurring basis, and various back to school events.
The Beauty of Black Barbershops
While there isn’t much research or documented history of Black barbershop spaces, the significance and contributions these spaces have and continue to bring to communities is more than evident. Urban planning professionals and academics are missing an opportunity when they are not tapping into these spaces as a means of community engagement, trust-building, and guidance in their efforts to make cities more inclusive for all. Additionally, with many everyday services going mobile, such as: restaurants, boutiques, pet grooming, and more, Black barbershops are faced with a unique opportunity to adapt their services to their clients’ convenience needs while sharing the culture with the rest of the community.
For More Information, please visit En Root Mobile Barbershop’s website: www.enrootokc.com
REGIONAL + CITY PLANNING ALUMNUS MAKES BIG IMPACTS
Learn more about the great community work that our co-founder, Vanessa Morrison, is up to on the OU Christopher C. Gibbs College’s blog. We couldn’t be more proud.
As a graduate student in the Regional + City Planning program, Vanessa Morrison explored the personal and community significance of barbershops and investigated the feasibility of creating a mobile barbershop in the Oklahoma City region. Today, she and her fiancé Bruce Waight operate En Root, a mobile barbershop that has already been featured on podcasts like StoryCorps Oklahoma. Learn more about Morrison’s work below!
Q: Can you give me a brief overview of the project you completed as a student at OU and how it related (at the time) to En Root?
A: My project focused on intersecting topics of Placemaking, culture, and lived experiences within barbershop spaces. The barbershop is the cornerstone of the Black community and through my studies I quickly observed that clients go to these spaces for much more than just a haircut. I also studied what people’s journeys were like when trying to access these community assets and theorized over how designing a mobile barbershop model could eliminate obstacles and barriers for people who struggle to get to these places, and how a mobile barbershop could provide services and public space in their communities. My now-fiancé was building out En Root during my studies and we were able to utilize my findings to help put En Root to its best and highest use.
Q: Did you know or suspect when you created your feasibility study that En Root would come to fruition?
A: Yes. En Root was always the end goal and it was so exciting to combine my planning studies with such a unique and fun business model. I didn’t anticipate how much attention we would get from it, the challenges, and all of the successes, but I always saw the vision of En Root and knew we would make it happen.
Q: What projects are you engaged with now?
A: I’m involved in a few community organizing projects that are generally focused on supporting and empowering marginalized communities of color. After a year, En Root is still in operation and is utilized for events, volunteering, and reaching out to group homes and shelters. We have also recently opened up a brick and mortar space called Rooted Barber + Shop. Our motto is “Cuts and Culture” and we have a lot of exciting plans to activate the barbershop space with arts programming, community dialogue, events, and more. There are also future plans for En Root that I’m really excited about as well.
Below, Morrison describes several additional, exciting projects.
Black Space Oklahoma
I’m the co-founder of Black Space Oklahoma. Our mission is to promote Black communities where social and spatial change is encouraged, hope is fostered, and the pipeline to the professions of city planning, architecture, and design is broadened. We just recently received our 501 (c) 3 non-profit status and are collaborating on projects with the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture and others with big plans for next year as we develop our organization.
Cut it Forward
Cut it Forward is a new non-profit organizations with a mission to wrap around the hair and skin care needs of foster and adopted youth of color and their caregivers. Being a former foster youth myself, I have the lived experience of how these detriments can impact self-esteem and confidence, and create gaps in cultural bonding. Many youth of color to this day enter these systems with these needs being neglected and/or not fully understood, and their caregivers are oftentimes left with little to no resources or support in regards to how they can address these needs. I currently serve on the board of directors, and we are designing programming to provide education, services, products, and general support to child welfare professionals, caregivers, youth, and more who have these needs.
For Tia has a mission to provide culturally specific education, support, and resources focused on Black women impacted by interpersonal violence. I am one of the founding members that make a multidisciplinary team of professionals working to disrupt cycles of violence against Black women while providing data-driven solutions.
Keep up the great work, Vanessa!
Oklahoma City event gives homeless veterans needed help
We were so grateful for the opportunity to serve at the The Homeless Alliance Sooner Stand Down yesterday. This annual event is dedicated to supporting veterans experiencing homelessness in our community. We collaborated alongside medical professionals, advocates, caseworkers, housing professionals, legal experts, and more to serve 200 individuals who have served us. S/O to our barbers for working hard to contribute to this event. Check out the KOCO News 5 story here.
Discover The Real You Podcast
Our CEO being featured on the Discover The Real You podcast hosted by Michael A. Dickerson. Listen as they discuss entrepreneurship, fatherhood, overcoming struggle, and dreaming big
EN ROOT EXPANDS INTO STOREFRONT BARBERSHOP: ROOTED BARBER + SHOP.
On 8/6/18 Rooted Barber + Shop launched! This is our latest expansion into a storefront barbershop to provide an inclusive barbershop and community space here in OKC. We have some new barbers who have joined the team and are bringing a whole new vibe. Come check us out.
We have transitioned En Root from our weekly parking schedule into it's best and highest use to serve at events, pop-ups, volunteer opportunities, and more! Book En Root for your next event by filling out our event request form.
STORY: Changing How People Feel About Themselves, One Haircut At A Time
The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Oklahoma City in early 2018, and we're bringing you some of the stories that were recorded here. Locally recorded stories will air Wednesdays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on KOSU.
You might not think of a haircut as a form of philanthropy, but that’s what Bruce Waight and his life partner Vanessa Morrison had in mind when they bought a 1960 Airstream travel trailer and turned it into En Root, a mobile barbershop. They came to the Storycorps mobile booth in Oklahoma City to talk about what inspired them to give back.
This story was produced for KOSU by Rachel Hubbard and Dustin Drew, with interviews recorded at StoryCorps, a renowned nonprofit organization celebrating the stories of everyday Americans.
Thank you to Phillips Murrah law firm for sponsoring StoryCorps' visit to Oklahoma City.
It’s a mobile barbershop called “En Root.”
Barber Bruce Waight started the business a year ago after finding the vintage camper trailer in Jones.
Waight and another barber work alongside each other and stay very busy, especially on Fridays.
“It’s a confidence booster,” said Waight about getting a good haircut.
Waight thinks the barbershop experience shouldn’t be exclusive to his paying customers. That’s why he and his co-worker cut hair at the homeless center in downtown OKC.
Since cutting hair for free for those you can’t afford it, Waight learned that his own father was homeless at one time in his life.
“We didn’t even know,” said Waight.
On August 6, Waight will open a barbershop inside a strip center at Classen and Northwest 35th, that will be called “Rooted.”
All the proceeds for opening day at “Rooted” will be donated to the Home Alliance.
Meanwhile, “En Root” isn’t done making stops.
Waight said it will be part of a non-profit called “Cut it Forward.”
The barber said it will be used for events to continue to provide free haircuts to folks who could use a clean cut.
“It makes you feel good about yourself,” said Waight about his service.
You can learn more here: https://enrootokc.com/
CHOP IT UP SEASON II EPISODE III: BARBERSHOP KIDS
This month’s episode of Chop it Up we're hanging out with the kids to listen to what they have to say about the shop! Check it out and don't forget to subscribe.
CHOP IT UP SEASON II EPISODE II: BLACK, GAY, AND BARBERSHOP EXPERIENCES
This month’s episode of Chop it Up takes a deeper look into Black LGBT identity and finding community in the barbershop space. S/O to special guest Arjai Snoddy. Don't forget to subscribe.
Arjai Snoddy 37 born in Washington DC, graduate from Old Dominion University receiving a B.A in Business Administration and The University of DC where I received my B.S.N, I'm also former military serving as a Lt. in the U.S NAVY. I've traveled the world meeting and interacting with all different kinds of people from all different walks of life.
NEW SPRING PARKING ITINERARY
EN ROOT AT OKLAHOMA'S FIRST ANNUAL BARBER EXPO
Our barbers had a great time at the The Hair Cafe Cosmetology & Barber College Expo today. S/O to everyone who stopped by and to the visionary behind it all, David A Threatt. With visitors from Texas, Tulsa, Stillwater, and more, we’ve made a lot of great new friends and wish them all the very best in their ventures. Oklahoma has a strong hair industry with a lot of potential and today’s event proved that to be true.💈Congratulations David + team. Happy we could be a part of this history.
CHOP IT UP SEASON II EPISODE I: BARBERSHOP HISTORY
Join our Chop it Up guests, David Threatt and Old Man Johnnie, as they take us on a trip through OKC's barbershop history. We dedicate this episode to the great Deporres P. Hopkins, one of the best barbers and leaders in our local industry. Don't forget to subscribe.
"Old Man Johnnie" | Professional Barber
Johhnie Phillips, BKA Old Man Johhnie, is a proud native of OKC. He is a shoe shiner at Little Joe’s in Stockyard City, where he states that he gets to interact with individuals of all walks of life. At one point in time he was a barber himself and still holds his license today.
David A. Threatt |Professional Barber, Owner of The Hair Cafe
David began his cosmetology career upon graduation from Dudley's Cosmetology Academy in Washington DC over 20 years ago. David took his passion home to Oklahoma City and founded The Hair Cafe. Known in the area for delivering the latest styling trends and precision, The Hair Cafe became home to some of the best stylists in OKC. David quickly became a local celebrity after receiving countless awards and recognition across the country for his master skills. From there The Hair Cafe brand was born. Today, David is actively involved in his campus that houses a barber and cosmetology college, salon suites and salon/barbershop. David's goal is to build future salon professionals. So not only are students offered an education, they also get exposure to some of the best licensed professionals in the area. David Threatt is also very active in mental health and suicide prevention. He is the author of the book And Then I Woke Up " From Suicide to Success " in which he gives testimony of surviving his own suicide attempt and over coming the mental challenges and battling depression
The Myriad Gardens is hosting #OptOutside Oklahoma, two-day outdoor expo, on Saturday, April 21 – Sunday, April 22 2018. The #OptOutside movement was originated by the REI Co-Op last year as a way to encourage people to reconnect with each other and the outdoors over the holidays and all year round. #OptOutside Oklahoma is designed to enlighten, educate, and encourage the public on exciting ways to be active outside in Oklahoma, such as through camping and RV life.
Saturday will be a kickoff evening event with food trucks, live music, outdoor games, and booths. Sunday will be a full day of outdoor demonstrations (such as fly fishing, cooking demos, and SUP yoga).
Come visit us on Sunday when we'll be showcasing En Root along with other re-purposed mobile units.
EN ROOT TO SPEAK AT 2018 Ok State Cosmetology & Barbering Expo
We are excited to be speaking alongside other innovative professionals in the hair industry at the Oklahoma State Cosmetology & Barbering Expo 2018 being hosted by The Hair Cafe Cosmetology & Barber College on Sunday, April 29th right here in OKC. This is the first event of it's kind - make sure you don't miss out. Details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1056389631168296/?ti=cl
OKC GOOD Community Story | En Root's "Cut it Forward" at The Homeless Alliance
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — The barber shop is a cultural stable in the African American community.
En Root is the home to the first mobile barbershop in Oklahoma. The black owned business was created as a place of healing and comfort for those who may not have the means of transportation to get their hair cut. Bruce Waight's vision has redefined the barbershop experience with his cutting-edge establishment that caters to the grooming needs of men, women and children in various communities.
"When they first walk in they're like 'Wow', and they're taken back," Waight said.
The barbershop is in an old 1960's Airstream mobile home purchased in 2015. It made its debut in July 2017.
The barbershop is the cornerstone, a place of mentorship for not only African American men, but for all the communities they serve.
"We're breaking barriers in a sense , there's people now that may have for one reason or another never visited a black barbershop and now they're getting to experience that," Wraight said.
The vision was supported by En Root Director Vanessa Morrison.
"She definitely is the backbone of the business and she holds it together, “Waight said.
Together the dynamic duo are making history. The En Root Barbershop Company's story will be archived in Washington D.C. The En Root Company works with the Homeless Alliance and the YWCA. It's a part of the "Cut It Forward" initiative. Also, the barbershop has a YouTube Channel called "Chop It Up", which explores various conversation that impact the lives of many everyday.
En Root to be Featured on StoryCorps
We are so excited to be able to finally announce that we have been selected to share our story with StoryCorps next month. Story Corps is a non-profit organization and also a podcast on NPR that travels the country (in an Airstream!) to capture storytelling from people in their communities. We will be sharing our intimate journey in bringing En Root to OKC neighborhoods and our interview will be archived in the The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
We've always believed that En Root was something special, but never did we ever imagine sharing our story on an international platform that will be preserved in Black American history for generations to come. The words to express how we're feeling are hard to find; other than sending a heartfelt thank you to everyone from our past and present who paved the way and have unconditionally cheered us on. #blackhistory
Some of the many highlights of our 2017. Couldn't go out this year without thanking you all for supporting the movement. Wishing you peace, joy, prosperity, and more fresh cuts in 2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣. 🎉💈✂️
Episode 03 | Speck Homes for Boys - HOLIDAY EDITION
This month's episode of Chop it Up highlights an impactful organization in our community, Speck Homes for Boys. Tune in to hear from Executive Director, Michael McPherson, as he shares the organization's efforts in creating a home for boys in foster care this holiday season. Come to your appointment with a Christmas gift for the home and receive a free eyebrow contour or beard grooming until 12/16.
Michael H. McPherson, LPC, holds two Master Degrees (Human Relations and Christian Counseling). He has 35 years of experience in providing services to adolescent/adults sexual behavioral problems, depression, trauma and other behavioral problems. Mar. McPherson is a Clinically Certified Sex Offender Treatment Specialist, through the National Association of Forensic Counselors. Mr. McPherson is Nationally Certified in TF-CBT. He's EMDR trained as therapeutic methods for treating all forms of trauma. He is an approved supervisor for LPC candidate. His history of on-going training is extensive, covering our thirty years.
Mr. McPherson was the head therapist for Speck Homes for Boys, the oldest private boy's home in the state of Oklahoma. He has developed two adolescent sexual behavioral programs and served as Program Director for 10 years. He was an original member of the Oklahoma Committee for the treatment and development of programs for Adolescent Sex Offenders. He has conducted training seminars throughout the state.
Personal Philosophy: "I have seen lives change." Therapy is and can be a positive experience for those who are committed to change. "To see someone go from hopelessness to empowering themselves makes life special." Counseling should empower the person, to move forward to take control of their life. This is my goal for every client and resident I have worked with and will work with.
EPISODE 02: Black entrepreneurship
This month's episode features guests, Corey Harris, Owner and Chef of Off the Hook Seafood and More, and Eran Hill, filmmaker and President of the OKC Black Chamber and a discussion over Black entrepreneurship. Learn more about our guests and view the episode below.
Corey Harris, Owner and Chef | @offthehookokc
First things first, for the unannointed, Off the Hook is the playground of chef Corey Harris and his wife, Loniesha. Harris said he grew up in a family where food and cooking was held in reverence, and after knocking around in odd jobs committed himself to the School of Culinary Arts at Platt College.
That led to a job at the Ford Center, now Chesapeake Energy Arena, when Loniesha said a member of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets was so impressed with her husband's skills that he said they should start a food truck together.
The Hornets left town, but the inspiration remained.
"That ended up falling through," Loniesha Tempson-Harris said. "So we ended up doing it ourselves."
But not before they saved some money — Corey, as an instructor at Platt College where he graduated, and Loniesha, selling real estate.
Loniesha, who you'll usually find wearing a T-shirt with "Boss Lady" emblazoned across the shoulders, said when they got the truck up and running in 2013, they planned to operate it on weekends only. But within six months, the trajectory changed.
"Everywhere that we went, we had a line that was stacked up," Loniesha said. "People would drive from all over to eat with us, pretty soon they were saying, 'You all need a restaurant, we're tired of chasing the truck!' "
Eran Harrill, Filmmaker and President of OKCBCC | @okcbcc
Eran Harrill was born in Sacramento, California and home schooled before attending John Marshall High School to finish out his final H.S. years.
With the bulk of his professional career has centered on marketing and business development with positions that include Marketing Director with YP and Marketing/Operations NCO for the Oklahoma Nation’s Guard’s Counterdrug Taskforce.
Eran is the creator and producer of ‘Citizen Soldier’, an immersive film of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 2011 deployment to Afghanistan, which was the largest deployment for the state since the Korean war. This critically acclaimed film has already been confirmed to be enshrined at the Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia – only the second film to do so. In 2016, it was ranked the #3 film in the United States of all genres.
In Feb 2015, Eran became the CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce – Metro, Oklahoma City, becoming the youngest to hold that position. He has used this platform as a driving force to be a voice of empowerment for the youth in this city and community.
Along with his civil obligations, Eran a decorated member of the Oklahoma Military Honor Guard.
Eran is an outspoken advocate for small and minority business support, social and economic development, and raising equality while minimizing double standards. With a strong belief that diversity and inclusion is more than a feel good phase, Eran has worked successfully with several large companies and organizations to help ensure that their diversity programs truly align with the spoken goal.
EPISODE 01: Black Fatherhood+IDENTITY
Chop it Up is all about barbershop culture. Each month we will feature an episode with special guests that will give you an inside look into the intimate conversations and interactions that happen inside of the shop. This month's episode features guests, Norman Markland and Dr. Andre Washington, and a discussion over Black fatherhood and identity; the fears and big dreams of our children and their futures. Learn more about our guests and view the episode below.
Norman Markland | @nmarkland2
Originally from Lawton Oklahoma Norman Markland grew up in a single parent household and was fortunate to overcome some adverse situations. Because of mentors and support programs Norman was able to graduate high school and attend the University of Central Oklahoma.
At UCO Norman was involved in many extracurricular activities and graduated from the UCO with a degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Spanish after college Norman went on to obtain her Master’s degree in Adult & Higher Education from OU. Norman has found a passion for working with disadvantage students and giving back to the community. Norman has a long list of community outreach experience, program development, and mentoring. Norman is a proud father of a 2 year old daughter.
Dr. Andre L. Washington, Ph.D., CRC,
Dr. Washington earned a PhD in Occupational
Education from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Washington currently holds an dual
appointment as an Assistant Professor/Clinical Experience Coordinator and an Research
Analyst within the Graduate Rehabilitation Counseling and Disability Studies Program at Langston University.
Bruce Waight Sr: Host/Co-owner
Kyle Van Osdol, Video Producer/Editor
Vanessa Morrison, Director/Co-Owner
click here: CREATING A BUZZ - THE OKLAHOMAN
It took some time and determined effort to acquire and overhaul a classic 1960 Airstream trailer and turn it into Oklahoma's first barber shop on wheels.
Still, Bruce Waight Sr. and his life partner Vanessa Morrison were able to get the trailer ready and to get state rules in place to allow the operation, named En Root, to launch after years of hard work.
On Monday, Waight was all smiles as he cut client Antwan Brown's hair.
Clearly, Waight is excited to be doing what he loves. But he and Morrison also are passionate about making it easier for the city's less fortunate to enjoy haircuts, too.
That desire inspired them to pursue their dream; they're hopeful their customers will be willing to "cut it forward" by making a financial contribution toward providing haircuts to others who might not be able to afford them.
Waight said they saw a mobile barber shop for the first time several years ago in the Bahamas while they were vacationing.
Later, as they cared for a church elder who was hospitalized, they began thinking about doing something similar.
The problem was, Oklahoma's state rules didn't allow for that type of operation.
En Root takes a food truck approach to the classic barbershop - ok gazette
Vanessa Morrison, one half of an Oklahoma City couple attempting to provide a barbershop space to everyone, believes a barbershop is more than somewhere to get your hair cut.
“It is a safe, public space where fellowship is welcomed with little to no limitations,” she said.
The Mobile Barbershop is the brainchild of Morrison and Bruce Waight Sr. It will be a full-service barbershop that travels from location to location year-round. It will operate out of a self-sustaining 26-foot 1960 Airstream Land Yacht. The unit accommodates three barber chairs and runs on a generator.
Waight plans to use the mobile barbershop to bring the space to clientele who might not have access to it otherwise, such as the elderly, physically disabled, institutionalized youth currently in foster care and college students living on campus.
“For me, it’s just a positive space for people to express themselves, to be comfortable, for mentorship to happen. I think it’s just a good space for positive things,” Waight said.
This aspect goes hand in hand with the grooming side of what the barbershop provides, giving a fully rewarding experience to the client, he said.
The initiative will be community-based, meaning it will not just be a barbershop but a space in the community where people can have important social interactions that they might not have access to otherwise, Morrison said.
“Coming from a low-income neighborhood, we didn’t have a gym. We didn’t have a park. We didn’t have things like that around, and that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the same quality of life as everyone who does have access to those things,” she said. “So instead of waiting for a developer to come in or a property owner to revitalize their unit, why not bring that to [the community]? We do that with food and everything else, so this should be something that should be accessible to everyone that wants to be a part of it.”
The barbershop creates many benefits for the community, including important and open dialogue about social issues and mentorship. A barbershop is a place where generations can learn from one another, where social entrepreneurship is promoted and you can simply catch up with friends, Morrison said. Therefore, Morrison and Waight believe it is important for people to have this experience.
Waight said it is this unique social and cultural experience that differentiates smaller, privately owned barbershops from the bigger chains such as ProCuts.
“There’s a big difference between a chain and a family-owned or a local business,” Waight said. “It’s like a restaurant. I think it’s just more care that comes out of the service. There is more of a relationship that’s built with the client, and I think that is the biggest difference.”
Morrison said that she and Waight also hope to add basic healthcare screenings to the list of services The Mobile Barbershop provides. She said this is due to the close relationship regular clients will often form with their barber.
“A lot times, people will trust their barber before they trust a doctor or anybody else.” she said. “We want to do health screenings like checking blood pressure, screening for diabetes and things like that.”
Morrison said that they are exploring opportunities for expansion, should the initiative turn out to be a success. A recent partnership with The Homeless Alliance will allow the initiative to provide the homeless population within the alliance’s program its services twice a month for free. Morrison said she has had previous conversations about the possibility of the truck appearing and offering services at bigger events such as H&8th Night Market.
Shot 6/16/2015 Shawnee, newly owners of a Vintage airstream Vanessa Morrisan and Bruce Waight is being renovated to soon serve haircuts to the community.
A launch party for the initiative was held on the rooftop of Allied Arts in OKC on June 29th. The event featured live music by Nita Fruit as well as a silent auction of local art.
Waight and Morrison first met at an event on the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s rooftop. Originally from San Antonio, Waight moved to OKC around 2001 and has been a barber in the metro for about four years. Morrison is currently a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture in the regional and city planning program.
Morrison said that the initial spark for The Mobile Barbershop came after the couple witnessed a mobile barbershop while they were visiting family members in Nassau, Bahamas.
“I just thought this was ingenious. They were bringing this service to a community where transportation is an issue; public transportation is a barrier,” Morrison said.
Morrison and Waight began to consider possible ways to create such a service in Oklahoma. A concrete idea did not come to fruition until one of Waight’s regular customers became ill.
“He got really sick and had some heart complications and ended up having to stay in the hospital for a couple of months. So Bruce would go visit him and do little grooming things for him while he was in the hospital,” Morrison said.
After doing this for a while and helping some of Waight’s regulars in similar situations, he and Morrison decided that it was time to put their idea for a mobile barbering service into action last summer.
At the time, such a service was not legal in the state.
Until recently, mobile barbershops were not permitted to operate in Oklahoma, but new legislation will allow such barbering services to exist within the state with certain provisions: the service must be self-sustaining (meaning it will require a generator), it must provide a schedule of when and where it will operate and it is prohibited from using certain chemicals, meaning that hair dying services will not be allowed.
Homeless ALLIANCE EVENT
Haircut delivery: How 2 millennials are starting Oklahoma City's first mobile barbershop
Oklahoma City will see it’s first mobile barbershop business soon. Bruce Waight and Vanessa Morrison, two Black millennials from OKC, saw a need in their community for this unique form of business. The mobile barbershop concept was born after Waight and Morrison observed the hardships that many individuals face when trying to get to this important space. The city’s metro lacks a reliable mass transit so this was one obstacle that the project could alleviate.
Morrison explained that the barbershop fosters important experiences that take place in a safe space that many enjoy but struggle to get to. “Individuals with disabilities, the elderly, single parents and individuals who don’t have their own means of transportation are just some of the populations that face many obstacles and barriers when trying to get to this important space.”
The barbershop space in the black community is an important one historically and it is one that many black men especially are able to foster friendships and have important discussions within.
Waight and Vanessa are partnering with agencies such as the OKC Homeless Alliance to help them in this important project. Waight stated that the OKC Homeless Alliance will cut hair at their day shelter twice a month when the buildout is finished at no cost. “It’s amazing how a nice haircut and some good conversation can truly lift someone’s spirit.” Waight stated. “The mobile barbershop will be for everyone, but [we] will make that extra effort to reach people who struggle to get to it.”
Waight and Morrison purchased a 1960 Airstream Land Yacht last spring that will be the actual barbershop and are looking to finish the build-out process toward the end of the year. Follow their progress at www.mobilebarberokc.tumblr.com and on their Facebook page, Mobile Barbershop Company.