Sidelines to sideburns: Barber reaching milestones

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -- Razor sharp focus is what's led one Florida man from the court to center stage in his own business.

"This is number six, I believe," Jay Wade said while cutting the hair of client number six of opening day.

His barbershop, Jay Wade Cutz Barbershop, had its grand opening on Saturday in the Panama City Mall.

"It is going awesome," Wade said. "More than what we could have imagined."

Wade celebrated the milestone with a ribbon cutting and a long, busy day of cutting hair.

"It feels really good. I mean, it goes to show that hard work, dedication, staying strong in what you do, I think it's confirming," he said.

Once known for how he handled the ball on the men's basketball team at Gulf Coast State College, Wade is now proud of the way he handles trims, cuts, styles and smiles.

His journey from sidelines to sideburns is one of humble beginnings.

"Jay used to come to my house at 4 o'clock in the morning if I needed a cut before work, if I was taking a trip," said friend and client, Stephan Richardson. "To see him at this stage now is amazing. I'm proud of him."

Wade said he started off driving to clients' homes, then worked at a salon and opened his own barbershop on Martin Luther King Blvd. before coming to the mall. The game he loves paved the way for the job he loves.

"You know Coach [Jay] Powell used to have us come into practice at six in the morning and you know, getting up cutting hair at six in the morning is way less stressful," Wade said, laughing.

Saturday afternoon, his shop was still plenty busy. Silver and black balloons, snacks and Dum Dum lollipops greeted friends and clients, one in the same to Wade. Music blared from the back where boys gathered around a TV playing video games and kids mingled with customers throughout the store.

"This is probably what God intended in the first place to me to have combined all those experiences together to come into one great, big experience for other people," Wade said. "To help other people."

"That's what the barbershop is all about," Richardson said, sitting with a group of friends he'd come to know in Wade's shops. "You know, everybody kinda getting together and not only getting your hair cut but socializing. People pay money, good money, to get the kind of counseling and you know, therapy but if you come to the barbershop and you like up with like-minded people, it just happens."

Richardson said in addition to a haircut at Wade's salon, clients will find friends, life lessons and a good cut.

"It's like the Oprah Winfrey show for men," he laughed.

And these days, Wade said his goal is simply to touch more hearts than he does heads.

"It's just how you encourage people, you know, just by a simple thing," Wade said. "A haircut can change someone's life."

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