Mohawk Matt

With a nickname like Mohawk Matt, you wouldn’t think this man spent over 25 years working as the Chief Marketing Officer for a global company. In fact you’d place him more as a downtown LA barbershop owner. The funny thing is, Matt is nothing like what you’d expect. Sporting a full back tattoo, a very thin red, white and blue Mohawk and a couple of 6 gauge earrings, you might take a step back and think a moment to yourself-how has this guy’s life changed so dramatically? Sit for a moment with Matt and you’ll not only fall in love with his warm and gracious smile, but his courage and inspiring story.

“I lost my identity in the corporate world,” says Matt. “I always felt I had more energy and creativity then I was allowed to practice. And it seemed the higher I climbed the corporate ladder, the more unhappy I got.” During the recession, Matt’s company was bought out. Always having an entrepreneurial drive Matt thought it was the time to do something dramatically different with his life. “I had to ask myself, what do I want to do to be happy, to be really fulfilled in my life,” Matt explains. “The idea was staring me in the face for 30 years but I never considered it a viable business option. Plus, my wife did not support it.” Matt goes on to explain his love of the old style barbershops, the community that these places had. He tells me how men would come and get their shoes shined and get a cut and a shave and chat a bit with their neighbors, not being in any great rush, just enjoying the atmosphere and down time. This idea was so close to Matt’s heart that he actually sported a full back tattoo of a barbershop scene under his button ups for years working in the corporate world.

“I spent so many years running away from it,” he tells me, “one day I just decided to run towards it and see what happens.” Matt used the recession and a divorce as the catalyst for his movement towards the love of his life. He enrolled in barber school and never looked back. Matt opened “Bolt Barbers” in November 2009, in the middle of a recession and in the middle of a run down community. “I wanted my barbershop to have that downtown LA feel. I wanted everyone to be welcome, to cultivate that sense of community in an area that is underdeveloped” says Matt.

Even before Matt opened his doors, he was dedicated to giving back to the community and helping in some way. “The homeless problem is big down here. We all know that” says Matt. “The Midnight Mission stood out as a beacon, it was obvious where our support would lie.” Arranging a fundraiser with the director Rik Krulish, Matt coined the phrase “Hawks for Homeless” and raised over $4,000 for The Midnight Mission in the first week that Bolt Barbers was open. Matt was also introduced to his new shoeshine man, Mr. Happy Feet, a recent graduate of the 12-month program at The Mission. “The way I see it, the Mission did me a favor. No one shines shoes like Mr. Happy Feet. He’s a wonderful addition to our team,” Matt says fondly.

So it seems Matt has already found success not just in the 14% growth that Bolt Barbers is experiencing every month since they opened, but for himself as a person. “I really had to ask myself what I was on this planet to do, “ says Matt. “It’s about getting in tuned with who you are, listening to your heart and your gut more then your head. It seems that the recession has spurred a lot of people to re-tool themselves. The old code may have been about finding success by security and working hard, but there is a new code now that is focused on fulfillment and reinvention.” Matt stands as a beacon to those who might be asking, “What makes me truly happy?”

Sadly we lost this special soul three years ago. Before Matt’s passing at 50 years old, he opened two more Bolt Barbershop locations, one in Hollywood and one in Vegas. After Matt’s passing his X-wife took over Bolt and plans on keeping it alive for his 3 sons. Mohawk, I hope you found a nice comfy barber chair to sit in up there in heaven, where you can put your feet up and relish in your accompaniments down here on earth. We miss your smile buddy.

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About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.