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Meet Bruce Waight of Rooted Barber + Shop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bruce Waight.

Bruce Waight Sr. is a father, professional barber, community advocate, and visionary originally from San Antonio, TX and currently residing in Oklahoma City, OK.

After graduating from barber college in 2011, Bruce received his professional barbering license from the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering. Bruce has over nine years of experience as a professional barber specializing in classic barbering services for all hair types.

In 2014, Bruce, along with co-founder Vanessa Morrison; a non-profit professional and graduate from the OU College of Architecture’s Regional and City Planning Graduate Program, wanted to change how people experience and access the barbershop space and culture. They began their journey with a vision of eliminating obstacles and barriers, such as: lack of transportation, foster youth living in shelter settings, mobility limitations, and more that make it difficult for some people to get to the barbershop.

In 2015, they purchased a 1960 Airstream Landyacht and, with the support of many, were able to fund, restore, and transition their vintage trailer into Oklahoma’s first full service, self-sustaining barbershop. Bruce was also integral in getting legislation passed to help make mobile barbershops legal in the state of Oklahoma and launched in July of 2017. Bruce was then appointed by the Governor’s office to serve on the Oklahoma Barber and Cosmetology Board and currently sits as the Barber representative and the Legislative Liaison.

In 2017, Bruce expanded his entrepreneurial career and opened up his first storefront barbershop, Rooted Barber + Shop, with a mission of providing an inclusive barbershop and community space for OKC residents. Rooted hosts Oklahoma’s first Artist in Residency Barbershop program, hosts a myriad of community events, and more.

Additionally, Bruce is the co-founder of Cut it Forward; a non-profit dedicated to providing culturally specific hair and skin care resources for foster and adopted youth of color, and their caregivers. He is also the founder of the Hair Collaborative; a project he is launching to provide a full-service barbershop and a collective of volunteers providing free hair services at the Homeless Alliance’s Day shelter.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur in general are time limitations, finding the right support, and trekking new territory. There is no blueprint for business ownership; especially when your business model is innovative or hasn’t ever been done before in your community. It takes a lot of risk, confidence, sleepless nights, and hand-shaking, and no one really ever teaches you how to develop those skills unless you went to school for that. I now have contacts in my network I can call to discuss investments all the way to friends I can call on if I need a new light installed at my shop. It truly takes a community to be a successful entrepreneur – you can’t do it alone and I am grateful for all of the support I have received and to be in a position to reciprocate that back.

Developing a schedule that not only allows me to do this work but to also step back and be able to dream big about future plans all while getting enough rest each night has also been a challenge, but it’s a balancing act that I’ve adjusted to. Some nights will just be longer than others – simple as that!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Rooted Barber + Shop – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am a barbershop owner by trade and a community advocate by passion, so everything I do in my business endeavors intersect those two worlds. I have the honor of owning and operating Rooted Barber + Shop and working alongside OKC’s best barbers in the game, I own and operate Oklahoma’s first licensed mobile barbershop: En Root, and I’m a member of some amazing initiatives that bring the hair industry into serving others. I believe keeping the community-centric to everything I do really sets my businesses apart from others. We’ve made the hair industry giving back trendier here in the city and it’s exciting to see other hair professionals now doing similar work when it comes to serving marginalized populations. Everyone needs a barber or stylist; whether it’s to get you fresh or to simply have someone to talk to. I am very proud of being able to show how we as hair professionals can not only give back with our money but with our skills and time.

Our motto at Rooted is “Cuts and Culture” and we have some innovative programming that is inspired by that theme. We’ve launched the first Artist in Residency program in a Black barbershop; where we give local artists of color a space to display and sell their work, we hosted a fashion show for a woman and Black-owned local clothing designer where she had over 100 people in attendance to showcase her new clothing line, we’ve done sport banquets, graduation ceremonies, live music and cocktails, and more. I believe it’s important to honor the barbershop’s historic and natural ability to be a true community space, and are working to create this culture in OKC to reflect that.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The future looks like strategic expansion and continuing to do things non-normatively!

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