This Nashville Native is changing lives through his barber academy

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Wakius Hereford (aka Wakie for all who know and love him) is the founder and owner of Legacy Master Barber Academy on Historic Jefferson Street. I joke around that he is probably the only person who I think knows everyone in Nashville. His energy stays on 100% and he adds laughter and joy to any room he walks into. He is a man of God, husband to his beautiful wife, Kim of over 20 years, father to three awesome children (including his son who just enrolled at the academy), a deacon in his church, and a true believer in seeing the good in all people.

Wakie started Legacy Master Barber Academy, after a unique journey in barbering and life. He knew helping people and working for himself was what he wanted to do and a destined meeting while headed to join the military would open up doors to do both.  

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Wakie’s road to becoming a barber was a path he was not initially planning to take. He had a life-changing choice to make early on, either go to the military, college, or prison for 3 years due to a case he caught and learned many lessons from. After overhearing a conversation at the military recruitment office, he learned about barber school. As he shares, “I was like you have to go to school to cut hair….I immediately called the barber school to learn how to sign up and the rest is history”. He would go from picking up clippers for the first time to later graduating from another school, after a chance meeting with a friend who agreed to let him join his school for free as long as he brought three friends with him. Soon after being the first to graduate, Wakie opened up his barber shop, First Class Barber Shop off Trinity Ln. and became a Master Barber. Over the next 20 years, he would grow a successful business in Nashville but he also knew he wanted more. This is when he realized he wanted to teach. “Barbering is my passion but teaching people how to be a Barber is my purpose,” he reflects. He started teaching in 2012 and would open up one of the first barber colleges on Historic Jefferson Street in 2021 during the pandemic, with his uncle Brent. 

Wakie knew he never wanted to work for anyone and now having his barber school he sees the impact of the age-old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Some of his students come to the school with a criminal record and/or struggling to find a good job. He is a true believer in giving opportunities and supporting people in their journey. He shares, “I try to pour that into them and let them understand how important it is to never give up on yourself. You know what I mean? No matter what people say about you, don’t give up on yourself.” Wakie has cultivated an endlessly supportive environment for his students. When asked why his school is called Legacy, he responds, “The whole reason I call the school Legacy is because of what I teach my students and myself. This is the chance to build something for yourself.”

It’s not a coincidence that Legacy Master Barber Academy is located right on Historic Jefferson Street in North Nashville. When you walk into Legacy, there is a certain atmosphere that is felt. Wakie is very intentional about that, as he wants it to feel lively and progressive. They don’t just cut hair, they have a sense of belonging and togetherness, and Wakie says, “That’s one of the biggest parts of why people like my school. Because we don’t just teach the barbering part, we teach the community part.” This school isn’t like most schools because they teach you rapport and how to bring community to your shop. Wakie knows that relationships have been a central part of his journey and he wants to instill the same thing in his students. In an age where social media is perceived as king, there is still nothing that beats real-life conversation, care, and attention in consumer-facing businesses like barbering.

Legacy is also setting an innovative bar when it comes to their students and life after graduation. They can essentially guarantee clients with their new Trimz App, a mobile grooming app that allows clients to book with a barber online that is nearby. Because of Trimz, graduates of Legacy may opt to join and serve clients through the app. With goals to expand to Clarksville and Murfreesboro, Wakius Hereford is creating a legacy for his family and helping others do the same at Legacy Master Barber Academy.

You can learn more about Legacy Master Barber Academy at https://lmb-academy.com/.

Photography: Elle Danielle

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