Thad Jayaseelan started cutting hair as a hobby and left it as that for awhile. 7 years ago, he got back into cutting more seriously. Leveraging social media, he’s travelled all over Europe teaching, leveraging those photos on Instagram to styling athletes and celebrities including Drake, Big Sean, J Balvin and teams like the Toronto Blue Jays, etc. “I want to be remembered as someone that dedicated his life to be the best I could be at a craft that wasn’t respected as a viable career in my culture.”
What made you decide to become a barber?
I decided to become a barber in my young teenage years when someone gave me the chance to start working in a barbershop. I was surrounded by great cutters which allowed me to build my confidence, particularly in fading and clipper work.
How have your family and friends supported you through your journey? Did you have any doubters?
My parents allowed me to cut hair while I was in high school, but of course, didn’t want me to make that a career. I went to university to satisfy my parents but it was completely a waste of time in my opinion. I think I doubted myself, to be honest. Since we’re the first generation, it was a struggle to make anyone understand that cutting hair could be a career, more importantly, respected. I felt that everyone looked at it as a hobby and I started to believe that too. I kind of forced myself to get out of it. So I stopped cutting hair for a long time only to get back into it 7 years ago.
What has the impact of social media been on your various ventures?
Wow, it’s been amazing. I got to meet so many other barbers and hairstylists all over the world because of social media. My first class in Barcelona was put together on Facebook. I’ve been invited to teach all over Europe because people get to see my work and then get me to come over and teach the craft. I’ve got to cut a lot of athletes and celebrities based on my Instagram photos which then leads to building great relationships with them. These relationships have led me to cut people such as Drake, Big Sean, J Balvin, and teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays, Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers, etc. Social Media has also led me to be noticed by L’oreal which then led me to become the National Ambassador for their education team.
Do you have any mentors that have helped you in the progression of your career? If not, who would be somebody that you would want as a mentor now?
My mentor was Lebert Blackstock who gave me the opportunity to work at his barbershop at the age of 17. He taught me all the tricks and tips that led me to pick up the art of cutting a lot faster. Lebert taught a few others that are doing very well in the industry right now. When I first starting cutting hair 2 years ago, I moved to the UK to attend Vidal Sassoon Academy (the pioneer of women’s hairdressing). All of my teachers there are my mentors. They can practically cut with their eyes closed, haha.
Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?
I’m always going to improve my haircutting skills so that will never stop. However, for the last 6 months, I have been working on my own brand: GRADIENT. It’s a combination of products and education. In 3-5 years, I see myself growing the brand globally. I want to provide the education and products to as many people as possible to groom their hair. My goal is to make people look and feel good.
What is one piece of advice you would give other entrepreneurs?
You don’t have to be an expert at everything. It’s okay to ask for help and delegate tasks to others to reduce your workload so you can focus on the big picture.