If you take a drive around Sacramento, Ca you will quickly notice that the Black Businesses are few and far between. After spending some time in Skills Barbershop with Owner Kevin McClain it was obvious that his positive vibes and good attitude had a lot to do with his success. In this exclusive Interview with Melanated Fathers of America, we discussed The difficulties Fatherhood, what he learned from his dad and the importance of business ownership.
Tell us a little bit about your childhood?
I was raised by two parents. My mama is straight from the ghetto, straight from the hood. My daddy from the hood too. My dad kind of paved his own way, my mom did too. They met when they were like 18 years old, they both had jobs and were educated people who decided to combine their resources. I had three other brothers and sisters, as well as three other cousins that were raised with us like brothers and sisters.
Sounds interesting. So, your mom and dad were married?
Yeah, they were married for like 43 years, something like that.
Talk to us about being raised by your father and how you think it was different from some of your friends who may not have had that?
Well, the only difference I seen was I had to learn to respect a male’s authority over a female authority sometimes. The female authority reigns supreme in the household too but you have to respect the man. I was able to have a father that could physically keep me in check. You know what I’m saying? On the same note, my mom would keep me in check too, but her physical presence wasn’t as strong as my dad’s, so it didn’t impact me as much. I feared my dad more than I feared my mom when it came to discipline.
I see what you’re saying, it’s nothing like having both parents in the home to create balance. What did you learn from your father?
Well, my dad was educated. I watched him go to school, I had the opportunity to read up on my dad while he was in college. He was an athlete that got a scholarship to Morris Brown. When my mom got pregnant he stopped playing basketball just to feed his family. He could have gone pro. My dad showed me how to be a man and what it meant to be responsible if you get what I’m saying. My pops always had a hustle, he was always eager to make more money and go to the next level, so I learned a lot of my drive from my dad.
So, do you have kids?
Yes, I have two boys.
It sounds like your dad taught you a lot. Are there things that he taught you that you pass on to your kids?
Yeah, I have but my situation with my kids are different because I’m not in the household with them. So, the only thing I can do is take from my dad the morals and the values that he instilled in me and just pass it on to my kids. As far as like being there on a daily basis like my dad was, I’m not. So, I have to be there more in spirit than physical form because we live in two different households.
I completely understand what you’re saying. It can be very difficult to instill things in your children when they don’t live with you. Talk to us about how you navigated that?
What I see is that I’m more lenient, since I don’t see my son as much as his mom does. My discipline level isn’t as high as her discipline level because she gets to see him on daily basis. So right about now, he fears more of her discipline than he does of mine. My son’s get game from me, they learn from me. They see what I do, but they really fear their mom. That’s who they’re with five days out of the seven, you know what I’m saying? That’s the difference I noticed because they come around and they’ll be two different people, one with me one with her.
Ultimately how would you say your relationship is with your kids?
Me and my older son got an A-1 relationship, we have a lot of time invested in each other. As far as my younger son is concerned, we have a good relationship too, he has a pretty good understanding of me. Unfortunately, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with him due to some issues me and his mom are dealing with. That whole situation has been kind of ugly, you know.
Okay, so I wanted to touch on your business acumen for a minute. Let’s talk about your Barber Shop. How long have you been a barber?
I’ve been a licensed barber for 21 years. I’ve been cutting hair since I was 12 though, so that would be 27 years total.
Out of those 21 years, how long have you had your own shop?
I’ve had my own shop for 5 years now
With there being so few black businesses in our community. Why was it important for you to own your own shop?
I felt it was a necessity to be my own boss, you know being in control of my own destiny. I wanted to be able to make my own money. I didn’t want anybody to be able to put a cap on me. I just wanted to be free to do what I want, when I want. When I was a little kid I learned about the slave trade and all of that but when I was in my mid-30s I really learned about mental slavery and how this system works. If I’m going to be a slave, I would rather be a slave for myself.
With having a black-owned business in the community. Have you seen a positive effect?
With me, it’s definitely a positive effect. I’m only one person but I do touch a lot of different lives, you know what I’m saying? It can be children, old people, middle-aged people. I’m putting out a different aura in the community, I’m putting out what you call Unity and love. So, when people come here and do business with me that’s what they get. The goal is for them to be able to leave here and go wherever they’re going with that positive energy.
In your opinion, how important is it for the Youth in the community to see Black Businesses?
It’s very important to see people that look like you own businesses. That way it becomes a source of inspiration and it provides motivation and gives the kids something to look up too. It will change their mentality, so they can think “If he can do it, I can do it.”
Your right about that. Kids need role models that they can feel and touch, with that being said. What advice would you give to a young teen who has a child or possibly having a child on the way?
If you want to be a parent you should plan for it. That’s my opinion, you want to already have your job in order. All the little playful and immature ways that make you tempted to go mess with other females needs to be gone. If you have a family with a baby, you need to be there for life. That’s how you’re going to make a major difference and have a major impact on your kid’s life. You have to be ready and plan for it.
Okay, last question. How has fatherhood changed you?
It definitely made me a more responsible person. It made me a better man, made me humble. Fatherhood made me respect life and value life. It taught me that I am not the one that’s important, the kids are.
Kevin, thank you very much for taking the time to sit down with Melanated Fathers of America!!! We appreciate you giving us your input today!!!