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Deep Cut: Exploring the Archives

Deep Cut: Exploring the Archives

We learn about friendship early; one our first day at a new school, when we go out to play hoop at the park- sometimes when we make our bi-monthy trip to the barbershop. Friendship is something that is intrinsic to how we position ourselves in our lives: Our parents were right when they stressed the importance of the company we kept in our lives. As barbers, we cultivate friendships with clients and fellow barbers- even with clients' parents and those close to our clients. Many places call this interlocking of close connection networking: We prefer to recognize this as brotherhood, sisterhood- family. We are often impacted by these connections in a very positive way: mothers help us get business by referring us to friends and entire families. And as babers, we build connections with one-another through sharing what we’ve learned and supporting each-other as we take the steps to perfect our craft. 

Today we meet with Austin Payne and Isaiah Ford, two people who took the spirit of brotherhood and forged that connection into a successful business venture. Payne, co-founder and network coordinator for multiple businesses, and Ford, barber turned entrepreneur and Zay’s Barber Supply brand ambassador, share their knowledge about building a brand and using the unspoken principles of family and connection to forge their own path of success in the industry. 

Lauryn: Thanks for meeting with me today, I know you both have busy schedules. 

Ford: Of course.

Payne: Wouldn’t miss it. 

Can you talk a little bit about going into business with a long-time friend and how you balance friendship and business?

Payne: Man you gotta keep on going. We fought in the beginning. He didn’t listen, I didn’t listen-

Ford: But realized we had to learn from each other- we know each other, our business is like a marriage. In the same way you wouldn’t end a marriage over something small, in our business we both have a common goal and we let small differences get in the way. We keep it fun because we’ll always be good friends. 

Payne: Isaiah and I are best friends. We recognize that we’re best friends and use the same principles that have kept our friendship strong to conduct our business.

And what would  some of those principles be?

Payne: Having respect for eachother, learning to listen to each other, having differences but realizing that they aren’t going to make or break us or our business. 

Ford: Yeah, understanding what you’re good at and what they’re good at and allowing the relationship to thrive by playing on those strengths. I also think that allowing your partner to work at their highest capacity is crucial and you do that by not putting another person's creativity in a box. And also realizing that trying to live up to/in that “self-made” box helps elevate your success- everyone has to utilize people to be successful, no one does it on their own. 

Payne: Exactly. Know your position and (work hard at that). Hold your partner accountable but don’t try to micromanage or tell them what to do. 

Ford: Austin and I realize we’re working together, and that’s important.

Payne: At the end of the day, we’re family and that carries a lot of weight in the creativity process. 

What advice would you give others who are thinking about elevating their friendship to include a partnership?

Payne: Evaluate your skills and then see how they might add to what you’re trying to accomplish. 

Ford: Focus on the skills that you’re good at and what areas you need help in and find someone who has strengths in the areas that you’re weakest in. I think about it like Kobe and Shaq- like a 1-2 punch. Who's going to be around the perimeter and who's going to be in the paint? The whole thing works when everyone knows their parts and works hard in those areas. 

Payne: Yeah- like an integrator and a visionary. 

Ford: It’s like sports- if you don’t get distracted on what your assignments are then you won’t get distracted by working with someone else.

What made you want to pursue a career in the barber industry/barber tool industry?

Ford: I liked it,cutting hair is a cool career to choose. Barbering is something that you’ll always enjoy. It’s a passionate grind. You get to talk to people all the time. And I started the business because I felt like I wanted to supply barbers with the tools I’d be willing to use. 

Payne: I reached out to Isaiah in 2018, I was building a brand (for myself) and felt barbers could use tools to make it more enjoyable and get better results.

What skills do you think are essential to a successful career (in barbering)?

Ford: Having a good eye for detail is crucial; developing what we like to call “Barbers Eye,” which is essentially seeing the details. Even though you may not be perfect, if you can visualize it and sell it, you can make it. Also being good with the people you’re working for and with. I’m outgoing, but tend to be an introvert in social situations but I’m going to continue to pursue all relationships to build with the customer. 

Payne: Most definitely, relationships with the customer should be number one: treat them with the utmost respect. You want to treat everyone like they’re  a celebrity cut. 

Ford: Treat everyone like royalty. 

Payne: Exactly.

What are five products you recommend for every barber to have in their kit?

Ford: You know, I want to be honest about this question because so many times you see people giving out answers that aren’t true and I don’t want to build the brand that way. These are the items I personally used when I began and continue to use now. 

Andis- T Outliner

Straight Razor

Wahl Cordless Magic Clips


Payne: Andis T-Outliner, Andis Masters, Andis Cool Care, Derby Straight Razor, Andis Magnetic Guards. 

Why is networking important in the barber/hair industry?

Ford: I’d like to give a personal example. Before I ever got into barbering school/worked for a barber shop, I didn’t have real life skills in the industry, however, once I started working in a barber shop environment my skills improved. In the shop, people push you to get better and you’re able to learn what they’ve learned by simply working in that environment. You can pick up alot by learning from other people and associating with people who are working in an environment you hope to be a part of in the future. 

Payne: Networks also help you deal with problems that you may not have the resources to deal with at the time. It gives you the ability to shorten your learning curve by taking advice from others in your field and looking at where they might need to improve and making those improvements beforehand. 

What’s one piece of advice you can give to barbers who are starting their journey? 

Ford: To be very patient. And to start because you want to become a barber out of love and commit to something bigger than yourself. It’s not going to be fun or enjoyable if you’re only looking for money or acclaim. You should do it because you love it. 

Payne: Be consistent. Focus on the things that will get you the best results for what you want and be consistent with that. 


“I think, team first. It allows me to succeed, it allows my team to succeed.“

                                                     Lebron James


Who are you going to connect with to form your team of success? 

Cutting Along the Edge

Cutting Along the Edge

“Oh boy lookin clean!”


“I see you young blood!”


We’ve all been there: eyebrows lifted, head tilted slightly, pressing our lips together trying not to expose a full grin; we look good. We walk out the shop like we’ve never seen the world before; we’re ready to conquer it. There is nothing, nor anybody that could tell us that we aren’t the King of the Hill. Our hair is fly: we look in every car window to catch the shine reflecting off sides from the sun; we might as well be dipped in gold. But the line along the edge is what ties it all together; we’ve never seen a line-up more immaculate, more crisp-more precise. The barber in the chair cleans up the station for the next customer, almost unaware that they’ve executed the impossible; a perfect line on a sphere. Eventually our hair grows out, we didn’t expect it to last long (but we hoped it did). This time we try it ourselves. Eyes concentrate in the bathroom mirror as we mimic the movements of the previous barber. We pull out all the stops- we use the correct guards; we even watch a tutorial or two to make sure it’s perfected. In the end, it doesn’t look half as good. So, we ask ourselves:


What makes a line-up in a seasoned barber’s chair cleaner and more precise?


The answer is simple: they’ve learned the craft well enough to understand that your hands are only as good as your tools. As we grow in our craft, we find resources that help us increase the value of our work- and in turn we also increase the efficiency and consistency of our final product. Working hard also means that you work smart, and that includes what products you use to elevate your business.


Now think back to that kid in the mirror wondering why their line up looked more like an A-line than a straight line- what tools could they have used to immediately elevate their final product? If they wanted to make their line up pop, without trying to push into their hairline to make it work, they could’ve benefited from a cordless air compressor like this one. This kind of product helps create that straight-out-of the shop look effortlessly (and with less cleaning). And when it was all done, they could’ve walked out the house, holding back a toothy grin, knowing that they looked damn good.



“You don’t get paid for the hour, you get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” 

— Jim Rohn


 So, how are you going to cut along the edge?

The Beginnings of a Barber

The Beginnings of a Barber

Fade in

We all begin our journey in the chair. We learn the dynamic of the shop quick- the sound of clippers and the scents of shop products become a part of our collective memory. Old heads talking about the latest sports news and arguing over current politics makes us believe in the history of our own fathers. We look to the barbershop for guidance- it’s’ always been more than cutting hair. Hands that used to grip stubborn heads from moving too much become hands we shake. We talk about business and going to college or starting our own business; even failure becomes inspiration in the shop.

Soon we set-up shop in our own bathrooms- taking notes on poorly blended fades and grinning when pops gives us the nod of approval. Moving to the garage or the backyard (but never in your mother’s house), we cut for our friends. We've built a storehouse of knowledge; muscle memory from having our own haircut and watching in silence as steady hands took a mess and made it masterpiece. We build from memory and grow due to vigilance- trial and error, constantly pushing. And one day, we look up to find little man two chairs down watching as we add the finishing touches to someone who looks just like him. 

We are not born barbers, but made

Our job is to connect one-another to ideas and avenues that will lead to success. What barber began a journey without a connection to someone or something that provided lifelong guidance? Zay’s Barber Supply is a network of key connections to the future success of all barbers- providing access to elite barber tools and world class educational resources.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

                                                                                 Michael Jordan 


When we build together we are paying homage to the power of connections that led us to become Barbers. Entrepreneurs. Life-long students. 


Welcome to the team.  

Fade out