Why on earth would you leave the safety of a job at Esquire Magazine in New York, NY for the uncertainty of opening a barbershop in Florence, AL? Enter Muscle Shoals native, Austin Shirey; the greasy handed gentleman that broke through his own fear to realize the dream of self employment in a profession he is fiercely passionate about.
I came to meet Austin in his pop up shop at the Overall Co. in Opelika, AL during the 2nd annual Southern Revelry so when a road trip from Montgomery to Nashville sprung up a few months later, I knew a detour through the northwest corner of our state was in order.
In the short time I had with Austin, we talked shop, the history of barbers, and the importance of breaking away from our fears to truly do something close to our hearts. For me, it is the use of my camera to connect with others who are just as passionate and for Austin, feel free to replace the "my camera" part with the tools in these images.
This isn't the tale of a blind jump from 300 W. 57th Street, New York, NY. This is one of a well planned descent into a comfortable life at 411 E College St, Florence, AL where the currency is rich in community, growth and influence.
When asked how his shop came to exist, Austin spoke of a trip to Blind Barber while he was still employed with Esquire. He said that experience was the spark it took to remind him of what he truly enjoyed and after running the numbers, which he strongly emphasised, he made the choice to move back home and carry on a profession said to be over five thousand years old.
I originally planned to write a much more in depth piece on Austin and his shop but I have settled on what you see here for two reasons. One of the many luxuries of having a barber is the relationship that is built on the shoulders of service; the conversations shared and the trust birthed from them. The second reason is the experience. Every inch of the shop screams quality; from the music to the chair to the steaming hot towel.
Visit Austin for the rest of his story and the beginning of your own: Greasyhands.co