We hear so often entertainers and athletes shout out the people and places that have made them who they are when they’ve reached a pivotal point in their careers. But, very few extend those shout outs to actual tangible actions like giving back.
But, one man who is changing those shout outs to actual actions that are impacting the community is NFL player Tim Wright. As a Rutgers University Alumni, Wright had the opportunity of a lifetime to play D1 athletics for Rutgers University and here is where he perfected his craft as a student athlete but also a barber. Yes, a barber! Wright later continued his athletic career as an undrafted free agent who later entered into the NFL but he never let his shout outs be somewhat of empty promises because his latest business venture is affording students on the Rutgers University New Brunswick campus opportunities that they could only dream of.
The Wright Cut, a barbershop that not only services but employees Rutgers students and the surrounding communities has been a pivotal mark in Wright’s career but also aiding in the development of the campus.
The Wright Cut serves as a place for students to unwind, get fly, and network. The barbershop, which also offers female services for #PYNKGirls has been a huge success just after 6 months of being open.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the man behind the brand and figuring out his vision for doing things the ‘Wright’ way. So read below as Tim Wright explains his vision for the Wright Cut, what it means to give back to Rutgers, and his future plans.
PYNK: The Wright Cut is in the heart of the Rutgers University community but it could have been placed anywhere. So why Rutgers and more specifically why on Livingston Campus?
Tim Wright:The concept of The Wright Cut is a representation of a portion of my journey, and throughout this process my goal is to continue building and Leave a Legacy that will last forever. Being a Alumni at Rutgers, this was the perfect place to continue my legacy where it happen to all began in 2008. Over the course of my five years of being a Student-Athlete at Rutgers, I was able to establish a Brand, which is now known today as The Wright Cut. The reason The Wright Cut was placed on the Livingston Campus is because it is the location of the Business School, a campus that is growing in modern technology and is becoming one of the staple State of the Art destinations of the University.
PYNK: As a Rutgers Alumni did you feel like it was your duty to give back to the university that allowed you the opportunity to put in the groundwork to ultimately be an NFL star?
Tim Wright: Long before attending Rutgers I always felt the obligation to give back because that is our purpose in life. During my time at Rutgers, I realized it gave me the opportunity and platform to maximize my potential as a Student pursuing Criminal Justice, a Football player pursuing the NFL, and a Barber that served as an active Entrepreneur while in school. I am grateful for my experience at Rutgers and from that I felt obligated to create an establishment that gave students and professionals the opportunity to have jobs, and give customers a place where they can come get a quality, first class experience right on campus at my alma mater.
PYNK: It’s very rare that you see black owned businesses on college campuses especially on predominately white institutions. So, what has been the biggest reward and biggest challenge faced being a black owned business whose model is rare especially at Rutgers where minorities are often under represented ?
Tim Wright: The Wright Cut is an establishment which happens to be owned by an African American. The perception of a black business can get misinterpreted and that’s where people often go wrong. Literally being a member of the community for five years while attending Rutgers, which is now the market for my business, I was able to understand the demographics I would be catering to from a first hand experience. I look at my experience with cutting over three hundred people while at Rutgers as a live sample of what the barbers and stylist in my business would be servicing on a day to day basis. After doing an in-depth analysis of what the percentages were per ethnicity on campus and it’s neighboring communities, it gave me a better idea of my selection process with personnel. My vision was to have one stylist or barber per ethnic background that walked in my establishment so regardless of what ethnic background a customer came from, when they walked through those doors they were comfortable and could be welcomed with open arms. The greatest reward is that in the six months of being open there has already been 2,300 different customers that have been serviced representing ethnicities from all over the world. So it’s a testament to my vision panning out. The biggest challenge has been trying to Cultivate our large customer base to understand this is an establishment built around community, fellowship, and mentorship which is the basis of my foundation The Wright Way Academy. Within our doors we encourage positivity and uplifting conversations, this is what the cornerstone barbershops for generations have been built on. People from a college community collectively are not used to that because people come from different walks of life all over the world, but that’s the awesome part about The Wright Cut. It’s literally a community center that promotes unity and it will eventually be the new standard in the hair industry.
PYNK: When putting in the ground work for the barbershop what was your vision?
Tim Wright: My vision for The Wright Cut was to create an establishment that merged together the culture and atmosphere of your cornerstone barbershops with the business approach of your leading franchise establishments in the hair industry. Through my years of being a barber on campus I grew to realize how powerful being a barber was. A barber or stylist is not just a person who cuts or styles a persons hair, they actually have a great impact on their clients lives. My clients could talk to me about anything, there’s not many careers out there where you are one on one with a person with undivided communication for 30 minutes up to 2 hours at a time. Barbers and stylist have an impactful platform in this world to be leaders, role models, and therapist to their customers and that can make the world a better place. With realizing that, imagine an entire establishment of barbers, stylist and receptionist that possesses that logic and apply it amongst every customer that walks into The Wright Cut. What we have here is a positive culture change. My vision was created and developed from the powerful experiences I had in my journey of barbering and that’s what I implemented in my establishment.
PYNK: You employee current Rutgers students and alumni and afford them real world experience to pursue their passions and a lot of the employees feel like this is more than just a job but a chance to learn and grow. So what do you think has been the biggest take away from giving students this type of opportunity?
Tim Wright: Here at The Wright Cut, were not providing jobs, were providing careers. The thing is everyone has a certain level of connection with their hair and how they look. Even if your not an actual barber or hairstylist, we have a receptionist position. This becomes appealing to students in particular because they appreciate the process that goes along with making people look good, feel good and provide confidence to that customer. The daily engagements our receptionist have with the clients gives them valuable interpersonal experience that is a quality asset preparing them for the real world. With the responsibilities of multitasking while providing customers with the best service they ever received, it’s a gratifying accomplishment that you can’t get at many other jobs. At The Wright Cut, the receptionist is just as important as the barber and hairstylist because they are the first person a customers communicates with when they walk in the door, and the last person they talk to when the client checks out and leaves. All of the positions in our establishment are strategically implemented to provide the best experience from a external customer perspective and also from an internal staff perspective, thats what makes us who we are.
PYNK: And speaking of opportunities and giving others a chance lets talk about the Wright Way Academy? What exactly is that?
Tim Wright: The Wright Way Academy is a Foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of the people in our communities. It is structured with programs to counsel and guide people to meet their full potential. Ultimately it provides opportunities and platforms for individuals to explore a variety of career paths in areas such as, but not limited to: athletics, business, architecture, engineering, financing, economical development and marketing. I was raised by a community of people who collectively get credited from assisting with my success and the platform I’ve reached today. I felt in my spirit that it’s only right that I use the platform I’m on and create an entity that could affect masses and that’s why it is so eclectic because it can deliver so much impact back into the community. That’s why The Wright Way Academy was created.
PYNK: Where do you see the “Wright Brand” in 5-10 years?
Tim Wright: Over the next decade, I have faith that there will be amazing results for my entire operation because I have confidence the sacrifices and dedication that’s put forth today will pay off tomorrow. “The future depends on what you do today, and God will take care of the rest”. The success I achieved in my life came from belief in the unknown. In other words, I am a firm believer in Gods Will and what he has already ordered for our future. I didn’t know growing up I would have Graduated College with High Honors while being a Captain of a BCS Champion team at Rutgers, go to the NFL and become a Super Bowl Champion, come back to my Alma Mater and open a Business, be the Husband to my High School Sweet Heart, and then turn around and be the father to my two amazing sons all at the age of 26. That’s a testament that the Lord delivers and I am grateful for his majesty. What the future holds we don’t know, but what we do know is the Lord is in control of all things.
PYNK: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs what would it be?
Tim Wright: If I could give one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, I know for certain there are no short cuts in developing a successful business. You have to dedicate your all, “what comes easy won’t last long, and what last long won’t come easy.” This is the moral of the story in business, there will be setbacks and steps forward, the important thing is to remain balanced in all aspects and continue to charge forward.
Photo Credit(s): Tim Wright.