He’s known as the guy with the crazy ponytail who leads the cheers in the Red Sea every week, @ianthabarber by 534 Twitter followers, and, to his clients and friends, Ian Thompson. With his sweet kicks and fly style, it’s no surprise that there’s another thing he’s got hidden in that big mess of hair: barber skills.
For the past few years, senior Ian Thompson has been giving fellow sundevils haircuts for the miniscule price of five dollars. What started out as a simple experiment has turned into a thriving business for Thompson.
“Freshman year I did my first cut, and it turned out okay,” Thompson said. “Each cut I just progressed, and it’s all learning from experience. After every cut I learn more. I’ve always had an interest in cutting hair, and barber shop atmosphere always seemed cool to me.”
Since beginning nearly three years ago, Thompson’s clientele has blossomed from a few infrequent trims here and there, to a steady flow of customers last year.
“I definitely don’t know the exact number of people, but probably over 300,” Thompson said. “I’m going on my third year of doing this. Plus, sophomore and junior year I would cut maybe three or four people per day. I would be here at school until six o’clock just cutting hair.”
Even with a steady stream of revenue during the school year, he has still hit some snags along the way.
“It was awesome because I was making a lot of money,” Thompson said. “But then summer came and no one really hit me up for cuts, so I made less.”
In addition to the slow pace of summer business, he also had to start paying for gas in his car, so clients who needed him to drive to them had to chip in extra for gas money. Nevertheless, a ten dollar haircut still seemed like a good bargain.
However, Thompson’s obstacles do not stop there. Not only has he faced complications with diminishing customers in the off season, but an involvement of administrators who disapprove of his business has temporarily shut him down for good.
“They don’t really let me do cuts anymore,” Thompson said. “One of them complained about pieces of hair left behind, even though I always sweep up after. So now they told me I’m not allowed to do cuts on campus.”
Don’t be afraid, this is not the end of Ian’s barber shop career. He still does haircuts off campus, and hopes to do so long into the future. With simple roots stemming from a small idea, Thompson hopes to keep cutting hair well into his adult life, as a hobby in addition to his success.
“Maybe make some money with a medical career or something, and then once I have enough, open up my own little barber shop, and work when I need to,” Thompson explained.
Whether or not he cuts hair for any more Sundevils, or continues his profitable business off campus, it can be assured that he is now and will always be: Ian the Barber.