'Mega Viral': Windsor barber turns Instagram following into real world success
Waseem Youans' grooming tutorials have been viewed by millions on the social media platform
For barber Waseem Youans, a smartphone is just as important as a mirror and a sharp pair of scissors.
Over the course of a few months, the 25-year-old Windsor clipper has become an Instagram sensation, with tens of thousands of followers and videos viewed by millions.
Originally from Iraq, Youans moved to Canada with his family four years ago. His father, Kamil, operates a popular shop on Wyandotte Street that serves kubba, a type of meat pie.
It was hair, however, not food, that captured the younger Youans' interest. Growing up, he enjoyed cutting and styling hair, but before moving to Canada it was not something he considered as a career.
But after working a series of non-hair related jobs in his new country, Youans decided to follow his passion and become a barber.
"I just love the fact that you can cut somebody's hair and you can just change their attitude and the way they look at things," he said. "It's so positive and a form of art, which I enjoy doing."
While in school, Youans signed up for Instagram, hoping to use his posts — primarily pictures — as a digital portfolio of his progress and skills as a barber. Upon graduation two years ago, he landed a job at a barber shop on Tecumseh Road. He continued to hone his trade and upload images.
In June, Youans posted something a little different.
"It was a slow day, and I said to myself, let me just film myself while I'm grooming my beard. So I did it, and I uploaded it after, and it went viral. People liked it, and I kept posting these videos."
The number of views kept increasing until a fateful post in June, which Youans describes as going "mega-viral." An Instagram account called Men's Hair World reposted the video, garnering 8.2 million views.
With millions of people watching his videos and a growing legion of followers, Youans started seeing results in the real world.
His roster of clients ballooned. He attracted people from across the region — and even from across the border. An American hair care company approached Youans about becoming a brand ambassador for their line of hair styling products, an offer he readily accepted.
But most importantly, Youans' newfound success spurred him to leave the shop where he had worked since graduation, and go into business with his cousin Merkes Marqoos, a fellow barber. Their new store, "Cut Me Loose," opened in September.
With a solid social media following behind him, Youans has ambitious plans for the future.
"I probably want to open up a barber school — or do my own product line," he said. "I really don't know to be honest, but I'm having fun with just learning and growing in this industry."
"Maybe open up a second location, third, fourth or fifth. We'll see."