“My interest in becoming a barber was influenced by some great memories of going to the barber shop with my grandfather,” Keith said. “And I was always drawn to the vintage part of the industry, the history of the business. It all goes together with my interests in classic hot rods, and many other types of classic or vintage design in many other types of art.”
Barbering was not the first career path for the proud husband and father, and the program was not the first he had completed at Tulsa Tech.
“Many years ago, not long after I graduated high school, I completed the Collision Refinishing program,” Keith said. “And I worked successfully in the industry for a few years before eventually working in manufacturing.”
However, neither a career in automotive refinishing or exploring later opportunities in the manufacturing sector provided the two qualities Keith sought; working for himself, and utilizing his skills as an artist.
“Becoming a barber gives me the opportunity to work for myself,” Keith said. “And at the same time it provides another creative outlet I can explore as an artist.”
The new barber says his new career choice has taken some adjustment, and he has had to work in order to improve several workplace skills not often required in his past jobs.
“This career has challenged me to get out of some of my own comfort zones,” Keith said. “I have a unique opportunity to interact with customers in a more direct way than any of my previous jobs. I am listening to them, then able to make my clients happy and confident with their look.”
Although technically still one of Tulsa’s newest barbers, this Tulsa Tech alum already provides some sage advice for those wishing to work in the industry.
“The most challenging part of this career is that you are constantly trying to improve your skills in very different areas,” Keith said. “You want to improve your barber skills, while improving your individual brand or image, all while representing the shop well. My goal each day is simple; improve my customer service skills, my barbering skills, and my overall business skills.”
Tulsa entrepreneur Chuck Jones, has owned and operated Blades Barbering for nearly a decade, and believes that Keith embodies all the skills necessary for success in the industry.
“There are some basic skills that make a good barber, Jones said. “Good communication skills, prompt problem-solving skills, and being committed to always being a lifelong learner. Clayton demonstrates all of these skills and then some, which is why I feel he will be a great barber.”
When he is not spending time with his family, or admiring vintage rides, Clayton Keith admits he dreams of someday possibly owning his own shop.
“I’m a simple man and certainly very happy with what I have,” Keith said. “But I think all barbers sometime think about owning their own shop at one time or another. I have always been interested in grooming products for men also, so who knows, maybe sometime in the future.”
Clayton Keith’s shop should be easy to spot, when he reaches that goal. It will be vintage design, plenty of classic stock, and will include a lowered, 1964 Chevy truck in the lobby.