In the image above, Banks uses smoke from the sage to clear up negative or stagnant energy that is built up in the crown area of the client.
Freshly Faded Barbershop in San Diego, CA is where you’d expect to see Jidenna getting a fresh cut as Janelle Monae and the rest of the Wondaland crew relaxes reading books and listening to music and talking about everything from relationships to revolution.
The shop’s owner, Derrick Banks, 30, is an authentic classic man who’s created a environment filled with music, art and conversation that allows him to engage both inside and outside his customer’s head.
Bean Soup Times discovered this Black-owned barbershop after a message he created went viral on Bean Soup Times Facebook page. During the historic 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, BST took a pic of Erick Ezikuhl Boone, a Howard University student who showcased the powerful message on his tee shirt and Facebook went crazy.
To date, it’s reached more than 321K people and has been shared, liked and commented on nearly 20K times. As the image circulated, we learned of the Banks (Instagram handle: “conscious barber”) who originally created the simple message.
Additionally, the shirt created controversy, not because of the message, but because a non Black-owned company took the message, created their own tees and started selling them.
Intrigued by the message and after viewing his website, Bean Soup Times had to share this brother with our readers. Banks took some time away from the barber’s chair to answer a few questions about his shop, his lifestyle and why he created the message in the tee.
What is your business philosophy?
I just want to create an inviting environment that stimulates thought and raises the vibration of people physically and mentally. It’s great to make you look nice but if it is only on the surface then what is the point? We want to help you look good, feel good, and do good.
Why do you advocate against cell phones in the barber shop?
The barbershop for the black man is a place where we discuss things such as business, religion/spirituality, personal issues, sports and politics. Cell phones although useful can hinder the interconnectedness of the barbershop.
Tell us more about the pomade, shampoo and conditioner. What inspired you to produce it?
My great grandfather was born a share cropper and was able to raise himself to the status of a chemist. I created these all natural products in honor of him and the rest of my ancestors who went through a tremendous struggle and sacrifice so that I can be where I am today.
You highlight music, books, and art on your website. Is that a constant conversation in the barber shop too?
Growing up I was hardly exposed to live musicians/art but books always played an important role in my upbringing. However, for some of my friends and family that wasn’t always the case. I think art, music, and books are part of our culture and we need to showcase the genius of our culture whenever we can.
Why is it important to Black men to be well groomed?
We live in a society that focuses on symbols and image. When a black man is well groomed and well dressed according to societies standards, he is treated differently and thus feels differently. We want to look and feel our best so that we can rise to greater heights. However, I think that it is important that we do not lose our cultural identity in the process of aligning ourselves with societies standards.
What’s the single most constant grooming tip customers ask you?
People constantly ask how they can grow back their hair that they have lost. For most people once hair loss has occurred, it is too late.
What’s the single most important grooming tip they SHOULD be asking you?
I think people should be more concerned with the health of their scalps. If the scalp is healthy they are less likely to lose their hair. Also razor bumps/ingrown hairs should be asked about but sometimes brothas are a bit too embarrassed.
What does being Black mean to you and why is it important for Black children to learn what it means to be Black?
I’ve been getting asked this question a lot lately. This is an extremely loaded question that could be answered with long paragraphs of history and philosophy. However for the readers sake I will answer this question this way: Blackness in todays society starts with slavery and travels all the way up to the present day. Blackness the way I see it, starts with the original people of the planet who lived in harmony with the earth, all of our accomplishments that extend into agriculture, science, mathematics, religion/spirituality, and systems of government. You name it, we did it, and we did it very well. Our children need to be taught this so that they can have a positive mental image of themselves and hold themselves in high regard.
The Nigger, Nigga, Neither message resonates well with people. What inspired it and tell us about the controversy surrounding it? Specifically, the idea being copied by others.
I originally created one shirt to wear as a statement. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t ok with them using the word, and I wanted to spark a conversation about the word. It resonated so well with people that I had a huge demand for the shirt, and started selling them in the shop and online. I have been able to successfully educate people about the history of the word, from its origin and how it is used now. Words are powerful and we should use them constructively, or we will be destroyed by them. At first I was a little jaded because a company that was non black duplicated the shirt and was selling them back to black people under the auspices that they were black.
Non black people have been benefiting from the usage of this word for a long time and that needs to stop. When other black people copy the idea it makes me happy. I can only spread a message so far, our ancestors say that the flame from one candle can light a million torches, so I’d be happy happy if these flames scorched the entire earth, so that something new can grow.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know that we didn’t ask?
I’d just like to give one key piece of advice for my brothas trying to make a way for themselves in this world. My advice to you is learn who you are and align yourself with a powerful sistah who knows who she is. Together you are unstoppable and no obstacle is to big for you to overcome. And to my sistahs, learn who you are and hold your self in high regard. You play an integral role in changing the world and molding it into a better place. There is a magic that you posses that no one else has, protect it.
To learn more about Derrick Banks and Freshly Faded, check out Freshlyfaded.com. The shop is located at 2850 El Cajon Blvd. Suite 1. San Diego, California 92104; Call at (619) 677-4733 and join him on social media at @consciousbarber.