Jayon Hughes, also known as Jay Da Barber, has been in the barbering business for a little over four years – which is his main source of livelihood.
One slow Tuesday, he set up shop across the street from The Cherry Street Mission at Monore and 15th, put up his sign, set up his tools, and began giving away free haircuts to anyone in need.
He explained that money cannot buy the satisfaction he feels whenever he gives someone a haircut – knowing that they are happy with it. In an interview with WTOL, Hughes said, “The money will come. It’s not about the money,” adding that he doesn’t do it for the fame.
The fact that he wasn’t offering his typical barbershop services didn’t bother those who benefited from it. They informed him that his action had made a positive impact on their lives.
“Seeing everybody out there, just in distress, I knew I had to help them,” Hughes said. Four of the homeless individuals he assisted had job interviews, and he was glad to help make them “interview ready.”
Hughes’ story was captured and shared by local businesswoman, Tanya Marria Murphy, who expressed that she was motivated by what she saw while passing Hughes by accident.
In a Facebook post, she said, “I do #TanyaWitThaTee and it’s some accidents and sometimes negative. I want to bring positivity and I love community involvement, so I had to get that.”
Her post has gone viral since she uploaded it to her story on Facebook. Hughes’ tale struck a chord with Murphy, whose son, Ulysses Gray, owns a barbershop – 1stDibz Barbershop Boutique.
Gray commented that despite his 16-year experience as a barber, he is not surprised that his mother praised Hughes’ work; adding that the best thing Hughes did for those he helped was to instill a sense of worth in them.
Hughes said he will keep supporting his community in any way he can, although he does not yet have a specific date for his next round of free haircuts.
“I tried to cut as many people as possible, and I hope to do that again,” he said.