(Photo by Michael Kinney)
By Michael Kinney
NORMAN — Alvin “AP” Payne, the owner of Payneless Images barbershop, runs an old-school type of business. With more than 30 years of experience, he knows the ins and outs of his storied profession.
But inside his establishment, Alvin Payne has an employee who challenged some of those ideas. With his camera on a tripod, a background light and desk stand with a couple of cellphones mounted on top, his corner of the six-chair shop is decidedly futuristic.
That employee is Alvin’s nephew, DeAngelo Payne, better known as “Dpayne The Barber” to his clients and those who follow him on social media.
In the 11 years since he began working at his uncle’s shop, DeAngelo Payne has helped change the direction of Payneless Images in Norman and his own career path.
“I just grew wanting to show people what I was able to do, what I was able to deliver, and that was really important for me,” Payne said. “And so, probably about three years ago, I just really took it so serious. I really started understanding that I had to invest in myself in order to be in a better position in life later on.”
Payne grew up in Tulsa with dreams of playing football for a career. But after a couple of seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, he was spending more time cutting hair than anything else.
“I was in school, but I wasn’t really going to class and stuff like that,” he said. “Certain things weren’t really working out, but I grew to love cutting hair.”
Alvin Payne, who gave DeAngelo his first pair of clippers when his nephew was 9, watched from afar as he struggled in college. Then he made his nephew an offer he couldn’t pass up.
“I asked him if he wanted to come work with me at the shop,” Alvin Payne said. “I apprenticed him after I apprenticed my brother. He was already cutting at school, though. He wasn’t that good, but he was good enough for college.”
That was more than a decade ago. Now Payne is part of the new generation of entrepreneurs who have entered the barber craft looking to change the business side of the profession.
That meant utilizing social media in building the business and his brand.
“I saw other barbers and other entrepreneurs, not just barbers, but other people that were using social media to really pump their business through that,” Payne said. “And I was like, ‘Hey, this can be really effective for my business.’”
Skye Latimer, owner of SkyeRockit Media, a social media management and consulting firm, said having a strong presence on social media is imperative to building a brand, regardless of whether selling a physical product or a service.
“If you aren’t popping up on a hashtag or have no representation in the social sphere, your potential clients might not think your business really exists or will question its credibility,” she said. “Social media can provide exponential growth. It’s a fact that it seriously increases brand recognition, customer loyalty and repeat clients.”
According to Latimer, a well-designed social media account with great tweets or captions will boost a brand to the top of the difficult-to-navigate platform algorithms.
Payne got inspiration by speaking with his mother and grandmother and watching motivational speakers on YouTube. They touted the benefits of a long-term investment in self-marketing.
It also meant learning skills that would enhance his brand presence. Payne bought his own camera equipment. He started filming his sessions and posting them on a variety of social media sites.
While Instagram (he has 5,114 followers) is his favorite, Payne sees the overall potential in YouTube (530 subscribers).
However, not everyone got what Payne was doing at the start. His uncle was skeptical, at first brushing it off as something for the younger generation.
“But I’ve seen how powerful social media really is,” Alvin Payne said. “He’s really embraced what’s going on today, the new technology, the whole new way of advertising and marketing himself.
“I’m old-school; I was the guy putting out flyers and word of mouth was a big deal,” Alvin Payne continued. “But this social media thing is crazy, and he’s lit it like fire.”
DeAngelo Payne said that by going fully digital, he can open up his online schedule and find himself typically booked for 20 hours or more. He said it’s gratifying that so many people are interested. That success means just as much to the man who introduced DeAngelo to the craft and has watched him take off with it.
“I feel like I’ve left some legacy behind,” Alvin Payne said. “I feel like I’ve helped my family to be able to take care of themselves and given them a trade and a career where you can go anywhere in this world and do.
“The way he is reaching out, the way people see him across the country, he’s like a social media star,” Alvin Payne continued. I feel really good about the hands I will be leaving it in when I do step away from the game.”
This story and photos first ran in The Journal Record
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider