Paul Brown – Greensboro’s Champion Barber

by Tonya Dixon | March 13th, 2013
Paul Brown

Paul Brown (Photo by Charles Media Photography)

Paul Brown has been cutting hair since he was 12 years old. Although, he says those early years may not have technically been considered cutting. Unfortunately, he had to be the one to bear the brunt of his learning curve. Nevertheless, he’s quickly reminded that was over 20 years ago and he was only 12. No longer being a novice at barbering, the Greensboro native is known throughout the community as a truly skilled and professional barber. Greensboro’s Champion Barber.

Brown eventually learned how to use a pair of clippers for his benefit and even became known as the neighborhood barber at southside Hampton Homes where he grew up. By the time he was 17 years old, he was a Smith High School student cutting the basketball and football players hair. This was one of the ways he kept his pockets full and his clientele booked.

He has always been drawn to the barbering profession and he excelled in art class in school and won many awards. “Since I didn’t go to school to take up art, I put it into my barbering craft,” he says. “It’s like art, all the same, I put the passion and creativity I have for art into barbering. It’s artistic and I love making people feel special, because appearance is everything.”

Although, Brown is gifted artistically he knows he would not be as successful if it had not been for the Winston-Salem Barber School, where he went to school and received training from exceptional instructors like Mr. Speaks and Mr. Long. He says they taught him the meaning of barbering. He is appreciative that they took the time to teach him and others.

He admits he didn’t know everything about being a barber when he completed school. However, it wasn’t the latest and different cutting styles that were problematic, rather how to be professional; which is why he has a great deal of respect and gratitude to Anthony Pettiford, owner of United Barbershop in Greensboro. He worked under Pettiford for eight years and says the skills he learned there were priceless.

“He showed me how to be a professional. A professional barber to me is consistent. I’ve learned over the years that you can have all the talent in the world, but it’s worth nothing if you don’t have consistency. I’ve seen many barbers who were not top-notch, but they were consistent. They excelled in this profession just as much or more than the really talented ones. For me, consistency outweighs talent any day in this game. If you mix talent and consistency together that’s what makes you great,” says Brown.

There are many others from which he gathered pearls of wisdom and support, but none as close to him as his mother and late grandmother. The support they provided him over the years meant more than words could ever say. They both made sure he had everything he needed while in school and have always been encouraging.

Brown continues to be successful because of his consistency. Many of those very same young men whose hair he cut in high school continue to come to him today. Not only that, but they bring their kids. It’s a perpetuation of generations that he is pouring into. He also understands barbers don’t just cut hair; they are counselors and confidants.

Not to seem cocky or arrogant but he feels he has mastered virtually all barbering techniques, which he simply attributes to consistency and experience. He says when people, including himself graduate from barber school they think they can cut, but they really don’t know as much as they think.

What Brown does know is exceptional. He has participated in many shows and competitions and won or placed extremely high in them all. He is capable of doing almost anything, but says if he had to name a specialty it would be beard design and art. He has been involved in almost every aspect of barbering. A few years ago, he had the pleasure of being the sole stylist for several celebrities, including Richard Roundtree, Allen Payne, Chris Williams, Monifa and when the popular play, Men Cry in the Dark, came to the Greensboro Coliseum.

Nevertheless, Brown says he’s just an old-fashioned barber respected in the game. In addition to his passion for the craft, he is committed to giving back to not only the community-at-large, but specifically the community from which he came. He often gives free haircuts at community cookouts and events. He currently teaches a class at Carolina Beauty College and is actively seeking other outlets to teach and pour into others all the knowledge that he has garnered.

He says giving back is just as important as providing the service. “Black men¸ especially, need to get involved in something. Have a goal, go to school, learn a trade so you can give back,” he says. “I always want to give back to the community. We need positive role models. Really, it’s just important that we do something.”

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