A Cut Above the Rest: Amir Youssef
In today’s society some of the best things in life require a chunk of your hard earned dough. Even something as simple as a good haircut can run you a few bucks that you might have really needed. For the kids less fortunate who can’t afford such a small luxury, Buzz it Forward got them covered. For Prolific People’s next entry we’re going to explore the mind of Buzz it Forward’s creator Amir Youssef and find out how he’s been helping keep the youth look, feel, and do the best they can.
“So tell me about yourself man, where you from, what’s your story?”
“I’m Amir Youssef, from Jersey City, originally from Egypt, originally from Earth.”
“So tell me about Buzz it Forward, what exactly is it?”
“Buzz it Forward is the primary thing that I focus on and it’s a program I developed to help kids get sponsored haircuts as well as mentoring. I’ve been working on the idea for a very long time, just trying to figure out the perfect formula. Not only to do it, but to do it on a local, regional, national, and one day global scale.”
“Is there anything that you would say inspired you to come up with such a great concept? What led you to do this initially?”
“So i’ve been in the barber industry since ‘97 with my brother in Elizabeth(NJ) where he opened up the first Chop Shop and spent a lot of time in one we opened in Miami in ’06. In ’97 to ’98 I was developing the idea of the Chop Shop with my brother. Then we took it to Miami and did it really big out there. We built an amazing barber shop and brand and I would say those experiences there played a hand in getting on the path for Buzz It Forward.”
“From ’97 til now is quite a while, what’s been the motivation that’s kept you going this whole time?”
“Well the concept sprouted from a problem I recognized back in ’09. I remember I was at an event and we were giving free haircuts to kids at this youth center. After it was over I walked to the director and I asked, ‘Do these kids get haircuts the rest of the year?’ and she told me no to which I was like, ‘Why not?’. A lot of these kids were less fortunate and couldn’t afford to even get a shapeup. Normally kids in those situations only options are to grow it out or let their parents cut it all off. Having to go through that is definitely not a good feeling for any of them. Some of the kids I cut there looked like they hadn’t groomed their hair in months. Seeing that and understanding it really gave me that spark. I believe how you look affects your personality and if these kids are to get fresh haircuts that they like more often they’ll definitely feel more confident. So the concept I created was so that I can make that a reality for them. My tag line is ‘Look better, Feel better, Do better’. The program helps these kids do better around them and for themselves allowing them to earn the haircut so they can feel and look better. My drive has been to help them and expand to other clubs who may want to do the program.”
“I honestly think it’s great that you’re doing this. It’s such a dope idea. I’m curious, has there been any roadblocks or troubles trying to build Buzz It Forward? How’d you overcome them?”
“I originally started giving kids haircuts sponsored by myself, my company, and some friends in ’06. So word spread then later in ’09 I was thinking how do we start to get more people involved. I thought the answer was to start a non-profit so I went that route and started one. It didn’t work. There was issues with getting a license and funding because you have to operate independently for two years, and after two years if you have no progress what are they going to give you money for?. At the time as well I couldn’t focus 100% of my energy on it because I wasn’t in a position to pay myself to do it. Even though it failed I learned throughout that process what worked and what didn’t for me personally and took the idea beyond what it was before.”
“So out of everything what is the biggest takeaway for you?”
“Honestly every moment is important not only for me though, for everyone every moment should be important. Everything that you do matters. From where I was when I first started everyone told me no. They said not to do it. So I started really questioning if I could really accomplish this. Then the choice became whether to stay in business as the Chop Shop or move forward with BuzzBox, Buzz It Forward and I chose to build. If anything the takeaway was being able to see a solution and saying ‘You know what? I’m going to work towards that.” and actually making it happen.
“Is there a next step after you expand? And do you have any advice for those trying to make a big difference within their communities like you have?”
“I think just the goal of taking it global is enough for me. The next step would be just to enjoy the success of it all and for those out there wanting to do the same thing ‘Just Do It.’ just like how Nike says. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. You have to believe in yourself. You have to also be creative enough to figure out how you’re gonna get there. Continue to set goals because if you’re passionate enough about something they’ll be achieved.”
As you can see you can make a difference in your neighborhood in more ways than one. Amir shows day in and day out that he’s a cut above the rest at Buzz it Forward. Free Hair Care is a movement and he wants you to know. So as always keep a lookout and your ear to the streets because you might hear about a Buzz Box in your neighborhood or the next big thing near by.