I had just gotten back from my Pursuit of Passion trip and my hair was looking a little raggedy. I needed a haircut so I scheduled a walk in at my favorite barber shop in Tempe, AZ, Electric Haven. As I walked in I was greeted by the sound of punk music, pictures of tattoos all over the walls, and chairs full of satisfied clients enjoying artistically designed haircuts being performed by talented barbers.
As I check-in and await to hear which barber will get the challenge of turning my head of hair into something presentable, I hear an energetic hello coming from the barber standing next to the empty throne awaiting for me to sit. I sat down in the chair expecting to leave with a fresh look, but instead I left fresh prospective.
Eric Rodriguez had just recently started at Electric Haven as a full time barber and I would soon share with me his obstacle filled path to realize his passion. From the very start I could sense his energy and love for the art of barbering. As Eric continued to share his story, I learned that his passion had a deeply rooted and a substantial significance tied to his purpose in life.
Eric’s strong desire to help people was created from a tragedy that struck when he was only 11 years old. Eric’s older brother took his own life and the impact would forever drive him to care for others and their well being. He has a strong desire to make sure people feel good about themselves, confident, and loved.
“Whenever we had school projects or they would ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up, I would always say I was going to be a psychiatrist. I have always enjoyed listening to people share about their lives then helping them figure things out with advice.”
When Eric was 23 he landed a great job with Coke and decided that he would continuing working the job due to the money and benefits it provided him and his family. For the next 12 years Eric would continue to work for Coke, but he had a strong desire and a passion that was burning in side. He knew that he was no longer on track to be a psychiatrist, but there had to be another way that he could fulfill his purpose in life.
About 10 years ago Eric really got into Cars and the culture encompassing the Hot Rod lifestyle.
“A big part of Hot Rod and Low Rider culture was the hair: The Pompadour; the slick back. These were all hair styles that were tied to the lifestyle. This led to me doing research on barber shops and the art of barbering.”
Finally in 2015 Eric decided that he had to follow his passion. He knew he had this purpose in life to care for the well being of others and becoming a barber was his passion that would allow him to realize this. In September 2015 Eric signed up for Barber School. He couldn’t just quit his job with a wife and kids at home to support, but he knew that he had to follow his heart.
Everyday for over a year Eric’s day looked like the following:
- Work at Coke (third shift)
- Come home in the morning and get a couple hours of sleep
- Wake up, exhausted, and go to school
- Finish up school and head home for a quick bite to eat and see him family
- Off to work again & repeat
Talk about a grind!!!!
In December 2016 after the battle of balancing a full time work schedule and a passion to become a barber, Eric officially completed school and gained his barber license. For the next 6 months Eric would continue to work at Coke at night and cut hair during the day. He was burning on all cylinders, but he knew that he had a vision in sight that would lead him to fulfill his passion. While working full time at coke, he found himself constantly thinking about being a barber, his clients, and how he could improve at his craft. In May of 2017, a couple weeks before I met him, he realized that his passion was about to become his profession. Eric quit his job at Coke and started his new career as a Barber at Elective Haven.
“When I finally made that leap, I didn’t have any regret. I actually felt a lot of relief. I felt like I could finally hone in on my art.”
While he is finishing up my cut, I could feel the love and attention he put into my experience. It wasn’t just about the haircut, while it did turn out super dope, it was all about me during that 45 minutes. I was not only getting pampered and about to walk out with supreme confidence with my new style, but during the process Eric was asking me about my life; my past, my present, and my future. He was attentive to what I was saying and the conversation we had was one that made me feel like i had known him for years.
“I just love to provide a service to people. I want my clients to feel comfortable and open with me. I just love the idea of giving back to the working class people. People that work so hard all day and I can offer them a chance to sit back and be treated like a King, even if it is just for a 30 minutes. I want my chair to be a place for someone to come in and get away from reality, from life, and just feel great about themselves.”
I have always said that when we discover our passion our true purpose is often deeply rooted in its presence. For Eric, he has a passion for the art of barbering, but his true purpose is to help people: to help people relax, to help people feel good, to help people feel good about the way they look, to help people through listening, and to help people through sharing his story.
“Some day I hope to open up my own barber shop and have my own products where people can come in and just forget about the day, relax, have a great time, and leave feeling more confident and better than they did when they came in.”
Eric is one amazing barber with a true gift for cutting hair. What is even more special is his gift for helping others. I was pumped for my new haircut; but I feel blessed for having met Eric, heard his story, and felt his passion for what he loves. The journey to realize his passion and purpose has been a long one full of sacrifices, but it just proves that he is the type of person that will continue to move forward in his journey to someday realize his dream of opening up his own shop.
Along his journey to perfecting his craft, the universe has an important purpose tied to his passion. Eric is destined to impact the lives of those who sit in his chair and he will continue to change lives one haircut at a time.