CORNING - When local barber and Elmira native Shawn Wright got an Instagram direct message from two players from his favorite football team, he was ecstatic.
Wright, who works at Lux Barber Shop in Corning, has been a barber since 2004 and often takes to Instagram to show off his work as a form of marketing.
Two players from the Buffalo Bills, wide receiver John Brown and rookie wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins took notice of Wright’s cuts and contacted him via Instagram direct message.
"They reached out and asked where I was located and I said I was about an hour and 45 minutes away, but was willing to travel," said Wright.
The players wanted Wright to travel Buffalo to cut their hair. Wright then had the opportunity of a lifetime to cut the hair of players from his favorite football team.
"It was very nerve wracking," said Wright about the first time he cut the hair of an NFL player.
The haircuts were successful, and the players have routinely invited Wright up every weekend since to cut their hair.
"They really made me feel like a brother," said Wright. "They were very thankful that I was willing to travel to them. They don’t want anyone else cutting their hair right now. I can’t believe it, I’m still in shock a little bit."
As word of Wright’s talent for cutting hair has spread, Wright’s gained clients on the Buffalo Sabres and New York Giants as well as more Bills players.
Athletes have reposted pictures on Instagram after cuts from Wright endorsing him as a barber.
"It’s a dream come true," said Wright. "Who would have thought just a guy from Elmira is one of the barbers for the Bills."
Wright’s Instagram page, @iam_shawnthebarber, has gained 1,000 followers since his haircuts were reposted by players on the Bills.
The most requested haircut Wright gets is the gentleman fade. The cut is a classic and clean cut look. It usually has a side part but can also be combed over to one side without a defined part. Wright stated that he believes he can and is versatile enough to cater to the needs of any player no matter the hairstyle.
Since Wright started cutting hair for a living some 16 years ago, he’s always stuck to one motto when it comes to giving someone a trim and has brought that mindset to professional sports.
"Every haircut is my work," said Wright. "Everyone that walks out of my chair is like a walking model for me. I want them to look good every time."
Wright’s end goal is to start his own mobile barber shop so he can travel with and give haircuts to players on other NFL teams while grooming the next generation of barbers.
"Eventually I want to have people work under me and grow with them," said Wright. "Teach other people."
Wright’s advice to young and inspiring barbers and other professions is to put their works on social media and to be yourself.
"I would say anything is possible," said Wright. "Stay hungry, go after your dreams, market yourself and be you. Everything just follows after that."