Can a good haircut change someone’s outlook on life, the same way a good meal can?
P. Michael Boone thinks so.
”I grew up in north Philadelphia and it was tough. I watched crime, people go to jail, people become victims and people get murdered,” he says. “I could have definitely gone down the wrong path, but barbering was something that I gravitated toward.”
Michael says he first picked up the clippers to give himself a haircut when his mom couldn’t afford to send him to the barbershop. He soon graduated to getting paid to cut his friends’ hair and eventually found his own chair in a barbershop.
“That was the turning point because I didn’t know that I could make money doing this. It was more of a necessity,” Michael says. “[...] I didn’t have anybody to teach me how to cut hair and I always wished I would’ve had somebody to help me hone [my] craft. I thought that I would be that person that could teach someone how to cut hair.”
After throwing the idea out on social media and getting a great response, Michael founded the Jr. Barber Academy. The program teaches teens and adults how to cut hair.
All of the proceeds from the Academy go to the P. Michael Boone Foundation, which organizes workshops on entrepreneurship, health and wellness, financial literacy and more. It is Michael’s hope to open up an entire center in North Philadelphia that is free to all and mainly for at-risk youth in the community.
But Michael’s good deeds don’t stop there. He and a group of his fellow barbers also run Barbers Who Care, which gives out free haircuts to people in need.
“I feel like when you feel good, you look good,” he says. “Some people come into my shop and they don’t get a cut for six months to two years. With barbering, I get a chance to be that blessing to them.”
“I always say barbers are superheroes," he continues, "but we take the capes off ourselves and put them on others.”