“Meach” The New Barber in Town”

Demetrius (Meach) Singleton. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, BAPAC.

Demetrius (Meach) Singleton’s is a new barber in town and he’s highly motivated to cut a positive path to business success.
His interest in barbering started at a young age when he wanted to have his hair cut once a week but couldn’t afford it. He said, “I would see athletes with nice haircuts and I had a mini afro that wasn’t trimmed and I just didn’t feel right.”
In 2004 he met Michael (Mike) Caldwell, his barber and future mentor, who he now works with. He said, “After watching Mike cut my hair it convinced me more that barbering is what I wanted to do as a career”.
He told how hew, after getting his hair cut, he would sit in the barber shop for hours and watch Mike cut other customers and he would go to the shop on Saturday’s to get his haircut, and watch how Mike served his customers.
Born July 7, 1985 in Oakland, Meach said he experienced a turbulent childhood. He grew up in a house where his parents were on drugs and were abusive to each other. Living in that environment turned him into a reclusive person he would come home after school and stay in his room all evening so he could avoid witnessing his parents’ behavior.
“My room was my way to escape,” Meach said. His other saving grace was going to school and visiting the home of his relatives every weekend. He also attended church where he was active member of the drama team. He lived in this environment until his mother kicked him out and forced him to be independent at the age of 17. After leaving home he lived between family and friends until he was 19 and able to get his own apartment. “It was a challenging time for me, learning the real world, but I’m a fighter, being backed into a corner, you have to fight your way out”. Things seemed to be going good for him, but his biggest hurdle was yet to come.
Although Meach stayed in his room a lot in his early childhood, he still had some exposure to his parent’s way of life and, with that experience, he developed some anger issues. His anger issues landed him in jail for 7 months, in 2005. “It was scary for me because of all the movies and documentaries I saw about jail, I felt like a sheep led to the slaughter”. He made the best of his bad situation and tried to do what his mentor Mike did. He cut hair as a way to earn money for his commissary items.
“I read a lot, but I needed something more to pass the time, and that’s where the cutting of hair came in.” After his release on Christmas Eve 2005, he went back to work at a warehouse, he worked there until the company relocated out of the area. For three years after losing his job it was hard for him to find full time work.
“It was a trying time for me especially with a felony charge shadowing me everywhere I went”. Also after his release he bought a pair of Andis Liners so he could line his hair up. “I would line up the front of my hair only, because I didn’t want to mess up my hair”. While he was lining his hair he would turn the TV on to ESPN and would envision himself in the barber shop cutting someone else’s hair. “At church I was learning about vision and about seeing things mentally before it becomes a reality”. “It was a small beginning but I didn’t despise it”, he said.
Meach would gather some of his friends and cut their hair for $10; he would take pictures of his cuts and show them to his mentor Mike. He would ask Mike what he thought about each of the cuts he did. “Mike told me that I had steady hands and that I should go to Barber College”.
In March 2009 Meach started barbering school at Moler Barber College in Oakland. He was taught professionalism, sanitation, the art of shaving and developed people skills. A year later he graduated, and a few months later he got his first state board test date. He missed it by 2 points and he was very disappointed in himself, he felt like he let all his supporters down. But he knew that he would get another chance. With another test date three months later, he missed his written portion of the test so they wouldn’t let him take the practical portion of the test. “The written was at 8am and the practical portion was scheduled for 12:15pm and I arrived at 12:15pm because I didn’t read the test date information that was sent to me.”
He said he started to become discouraged, “my negative thoughts tried to get to me, but through it all I believed that I would conquer and the next time I’d be ready.”
On the third time Meach, full of confidence, showed up on time, took the exams and passed. He now works at Joe Lee’s Gentlemen’s Ambiance at 180 Broadway, Suite A, in Richmond. “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes,” Mark 9:23. “I kept repeating that verse in my mind, and now my dream has become a reality.” Now “Meach”, who always wanted to be like Mike, can cut hair like Mike too.