RICHMOND, Va. -- Emmanuel Gayot has been cutting hair for more than three decades.
He started at 14 in Brooklyn. In 2003 he set up shop in Virginia and now operates Edify Cuts and Shave Parlor in Henrico. In 2007 he opened Edify Cuts and Barber Academy with his wife.
"My slogan is a businessman who happens to be a barber," Gayot said.
It's the relationships that keep Emmanuel coming back to the chair. It's where connections happen through the cuts and conversation, and friendships form that last a lifetime.
"I can speak to my clients about anything, and they will never judge me, and they can speak to me about anything, and I will never judge them," Gayot said. "I'm at their weddings, their birthday parties, their funerals, their first dates," he added.
Emmanuel has even dazzled many of his customers into becoming barbers.
"He was cutting my hair in high school one day, and he asked me, 'hey, you want to learn how to cut hair?' I said, yeah, why not," said Christian.
"Barbering is the best thing that ever happened to me, and Mr. E. is the reason," said Tyson
While he has a lot of support and has experienced success, Emmanuel won't hesitate to tell you that he has run away from cutting hair more than once.
"Maybe three times in the span of 10 ten years," Gayot said. "You know Michael Jordon stopped playing basketball to go chase baseball. I don't blame him, now he came back to basketball, but he had to go and see, you know, what was inside of him," he added.
The master barber has tried his hand at several professions, including real estate and personal training.
"Most barbers will tell you that run away a few times, but barbering pulls you right back in. It always does, it always does," said Gayot.
In November, the pull from the chair intensified when the Commonwealth of Virginia recognized Emmanuel for his experience and skill. Governor Ralph Northam's administration appointed him to the State Board for Barbers and Cosmetology.
"My job is to protect you and your family, to look at the law and help to guide the governor's office on molding the law where it fits both the practitioner and the consumer," said Gayot.
For Emmanuel, it's another chance to strengthen relationships. His new seat at the table will allow him to advocate for other people who build their lives around the chair.
"I think with the opportunity and more knowledge we can help mold the way licensure has gone about, the amount of hours, the whole process. I hope that I can contribute, changing some things to make it easier for the practitioner," he said.
It's a calling Emmanuel can't seem to escape.
"It's chasing me down. It's very rewarding and that's why I cannot leave."
13 people make up the state's Board of Barbers and Cosmetology. If you would like to learn more about who serves and how the gubernatorial appointment process works, click here.
Watch Candace Burns' "Our RVA" reports Wednesdays on CBS 6 News at 4 and 5:30 p.m. If you know someone Candace should feature, email her at Candace.Burns@wtvr.com.
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