For many formerly incarcerated men and women, the obstacles to reentering society and piecing their life back together can be challenging.
For barber Keith Warren, the driving motivation was to take his life back, become a business owner and a productive citizen of society.
Part owner of the 730 Barber Lounge in downtown Oakland – across from the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse – Warren says he had to change his mindset as he tried to achieve the goals he set for himself.
Throughout his journey, from being a store manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), to serving time in prison and now a successful barber, he refuses to fail and feels he is molded for greatness.
“It’s so important for me to be successful in what I do. I’m not just talking [about it], I’m doing it,” he said.
“In a nutshell, at some point in life after doing things wrong, you have to wake up and do things the right way,” he said, “no shortcuts, because it’s going to last.”
Warren was given the opportunity to attend Barber College with help from the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC) and now wants to extend that same opportunity to others.
He plans to open a barber college in the Bay Area where he “can help other young men and teach them how to cut hair and provide for their families.”
“It’s just about finding where your niche is,” Warren said. “Start thinking long-term; you have to go from a trade to a business owner, to owning corporations, to giving other people opportunities. We have to do things to instill family morals and ethics in the Black community.”
The barber says he advises many young men and women who are caught in the justice system to avoid the “red tape.”
“They know the people who are going to successfully finish parole and those who are not; it’s almost like the real from the fake,” he said. “You have to change your mindset into being a productive member of society instead of being a hooligan or street punk.”
Warren says his strong faith has helped keep him on track. “When God is trying to elevate you, it’s a feeling you never felt before,” he said. “I’m basking in His glory, that’s how I live my life.”
Although the 730 Barber Lounge will be closing its doors in December, Warren looks forward to continuing his business in another location and working towards opening his barber college.
For more info, contact Keith Warren at 510-472-4163 or [email protected].