Episode 1 A Barber’s Journey From His Garage to Becoming a Local Legend

“I want to do everything I can to help this next generation jump into the world and not have to face the hurdles that I had to go through growing up," says Ali Alhashemi, who grew Uppercutz Barbershop into a Dearborn staple. Now he’s a mentor to dozens of barbers across three shops.
Apr 18, 2024 — 2 min read



Ali Alhashemi is the owner of Uppercutz Barbershop in Dearborn, Michigan.

About this video series

Only In Dearborn

Only In Dearborn

Only In Dearborn highlights five Arab-owned businesses to explore the intersection of identity, community, and entrepreneurship.

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Ali Alhashemi: I was 19 years old when I opened up my first barbershop. I didn't really care about the money. I just wanted a place where I could take all my clients to and feel comfortable. What I didn't know was I'd end up being the most expensive barber in the city.

I started cutting hair as a hobby. I think I was 11, 12 years old. My dad wanted to take us all on a family trip to Iraq. He told me that he'd take me to his barber in Iraq and he'd let me shadow him and learn how to cut hair there. After my father passed away, I knew that I had to buckle up and support myself and my family. 14 years old, I just started going to school and telling everybody I cut hair in my garage and come by and check me out. I knew that the next step for me to actually start making real money was to work at a barbershop.

Every time I got to work, there was 10 people waiting on me. That's when I realized it was time for me to open my own barbershop. It was a couple of years where I didn't think I was even going to make it in the industry. First shop I opened, got broken into and robbed. I was 19 years old. I didn't understand the game. I didn't understand the rules of opening a business. As soon as I made enough money to leave, I went and opened my shop in Dearborn.

As the business grew, after having four or five, six talented barbers, I started bringing in floor managers, guys that would just come in and sweep the shop, wash my client's hair. I took these guys in, like little brothers. I taught them the crafts, but I also kept them off the streets.

I've got 30, 40 employees. They're all taking care of their people today. They're cutting hair and making six figures a year. Kept growing, started cutting the Detroit Pistons, the Detroit Lions. There was a point where I was cutting the entire 52 man roster and all the coaches. We went from charging $5 to a hundred dollars a haircut. I was so passionate about cutting hair. I thought it was the only thing I'd ever loved.

But after opening my shop, after opening the second one and the third one, I realized that there's only one thing that can compete with my passion for haircut, and that's running a business. Barbering has done so much for me in my life, cutting in my garage to owning multiple locations. I feel it's my duty now to help this next generation jump into the world and not have to face the hurdles that I had to growing up.


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