A Plus Barbershop is a meeting place for all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Aaron Washington, the man behind the chair, will celebrate 30 years of barbering this October. He is known throughout the region as a community leader passionate about his business, clients, and the community where he lives.
The Smithville native shared, “I’m a Monroe County guy. I got into barbering as a necessity. I’m the middle child of six kids, four boys, and two girls, and you know we needed haircuts often. So, I went to Walmart one day and got a pair of clippers. I started cutting my brother’s and a friend’s hair in exchange for a ride to school.”
After graduating high school, Washington attended Itawamba Community College (ICC) on a football scholarship.
“Over the two years, my dorm room turned into a barbershop. I was able to get five dollars a haircut all day long. You didn’t have a barbershop on every corner then, not even in Tupelo. I had the opportunity to keep playing football, but I was just in a room one day and thought, you ought to try and go to barber school.”
There were only two schools in that area then, one in Ripley and one in West Point. “I drove down to West Point one day, looked at the school and attended Gibson’s Barber & Beauty College in West Point in 1993. This is my 30th year of barbering.”
From that point forward, Washington decided to give up football and pursue barbering with full force. He worked in Tupelo for a few years and opened his first barbershop in his home county. A Plus Barbershop was born at 700 Martin Luther King Blvd. on the west side of Amory.
“It was the place to be in the community. We had older guys drinking coffee in the morning and younger guys coming in the afternoon and playing pool. We were really involved in the community, and it was fun!”
Washington’s shop remained in Amory for many years. Eventually, he sold the property to set up shop in Tupelo.
“I hated to do it, but at that point, my children were young, and I knew that I needed to be closer to them and that flexibility of being near their schools and our home was needed. My wife is a nurse, and so it was more challenging for her to be able to leave. That decision weighed a lot on me, but it was a good decision. I still have one or two customers who started with me in Amory 30 years ago! I also have other Amory clients who used to come to my first shop, and they were just kids. So, this ten-year-old whose hair I used to cut back then is now 40 years old, and they’re successful grown men, and they still come into see me.”
A Plus Barbershop moved locations from Gloster St. to downtown Tupelo about a year ago. The new studio is in a prime location for Washington and his many clients.
Washington still cuts hair, but his primary focus is beards. His products, Aaron Washington Beard Co., are sold nationwide and continue to offer premier hair and beard care.
Washington worked with “Basic Haircare” in Atlanta for years while spending a lot of time in the lab researching products. They used his business as a test site in Tupelo for a product they were making. In fact, Washington was also named the “Basic Barber of the Year” in 2015.
“I was the only barber on this team of 6-7 people,” Washington shared, “and now the company has 300-400 people. There’s nothing like someone in another state ordering your product. It’s just fun. I wanted to put legs on what I’m doing, other than my skillset.”
“I still do haircuts, but beards are where I’m mostly at. My wife is a travel nurse, and I like to travel with her. I enjoy meeting new people. I also like to visit the schools and teach students what I know. I try to give as much of my intellectual property back to the schools as possible. Barbers and hairstylists always want to know how to do something.”
A Plus Barbershop and Aaron Washington are cornerstones in the Tupelo community, and that shows through everything Washington does, as a business owner and a community leader. Washington is passionate about effecting positive change in a place that he loves and aims to lift others every day.
“I get up to do this every day. People are the greatest resource on the planet. If you’re aware of that, you should spend every day trying to improve humanity. There’s nothing better than doing good in a community. I’ve watched people need a job, be in the barbershop at the right place and time, and connect with someone who could give them a job. I’ve connected marriages, recommended schools, churches… it’s important that what comes out of my mouth holds weight, and I don’t take that lightly.”
A Plus Barbershop promotes positivity, entrepreneurship, and acceptance. It is undeniably the meeting place and a safe space for clients to come and get a quality barbershop experience.
“I have people in my chair all day long. You know, it’s like iron, sharpening iron. I’m sharpening people all day, and they’re sharpening me. You never know who you’re going to meet or whose life you’re going to impact. It’s amazing to play a small part in each client’s life. I’ve always said I didn’t go into barbering; it was already in me. I just pulled it out of myself.”
*All photos are courtesy of Aaron Washington.