John Mosley: The Popular Nobody
Maybe you know him, maybe you don’t—either way, that’s kind of the point.
John has worked with professional athletes, rappers, and icons—and none of it has ever inflated his ego. That, along with his obvious natural talent and knack for working hard, is what makes him so successful—he stays humble, but he stays hustling because, at the end of the day, he believes he’s no better than any other barber in his position (hence, the Popular Nobody proclamation).
John is truly an icon within the barbering world—a title that doesn’t just root itself in his celebrity clientele, exceptional talent, brand ambassadorship (he’s the face of Mavrick) and driven nature, but also, one that blossoms from being a notable, celebrated educator. This year, John was crowed educator of the year at the 2019 BarberCon in New York City—an honor that truly nods to his passion for education and desire to inspire the next generation of young barbers within the industry.
Humble Beginnings Lead to Humble Success
Though John’s family is rooted in the industry (his mother and sister are cosmetologists), John didn’t predict that his career would follow suit—in fact, before becoming a barber, he was a college football player. And ultimately, he opted out of football because he was sick of getting hit by grown men for free (we don’t blame him).
If you ask John why he chose barbering, he might tell you it was a bit of a joke, at first—he needed to figure out what he was doing post-football, and if anything, he was looking to buy more time. But a few days after he jokingly mentioned the idea to his mother, John was enrolled in barber school and a true passion was born.
It’s been 17—going on 18—years since John enrolled in barber school, and now, he can’t imagine a life where he isn’t a barber. He’s inspired by a team, he’s inspired by his family, and he’s more motivated than ever to teach a new generation of barbers.
“Everyone is a popular nobody at some point,” John said. “We’re all artists, but you need to stay humble and hungry, and you need to stay true to yourself. You have to figure out who you are—not who I am.”
His biggest focus now is on education. And part of that education is about focusing on how he teaches barbers. He’s not there to focus on the barber individually, but rather, come up with a conducive way to teach and inspire that systematically tackles all of the elements that tie into being a barber.
“It’s not a haircut, it’s haircutting,” John mused. “You need to understand bone structure, understand head shape—it’s the whole package that makes you a great barber or a great cosmetologist. The education lies in the overall experience.”
The Popular Nobody—More than Just an Instagram Name
Before John was Popular Nobody, he just went by Barber JM. Though he was exceptionally popular, he still wasn’t gaining the traction he needed. It wasn’t until a client-turned-friend pointed out to him, “dude, your work is everywhere, but nobody knows who you are—you’re kind of a popular nobody” that it all clicked for him.
He changed his brand name, he found his niche, he aligned his title with his mantra—it wasn’t just about cutting hair, it was about staying humble and hungry and working hard to be true to himself.
But here’s the most important distinction for John about that name—Popular Nobody isn’t just a barbering brand, it’s a lifestyle, a mindset, and a mantra. For him, Popular Nobody is his reminder that he’s doing what he’s doing because he loves it—not because he’s trying to impress anyone. And further, it’s a story—it’s a nod that pays homage to the fact that everyone—at some point in their career—is that popular nobody. Their work is everywhere, but no one knows them. It’s a reminder that we all have that potential inside of us, and if we’re working hard, finding our passion, and creating our own, unique space within that industry, we can become the very thing we’ve always wanted to.
And that’s the thing about being a Popular Nobody, it’s entirely about owning your individuality and creating your reality.
“Don’t ask me what book I’m reading,” he says, “find your own and write your own story. If you copy someone else, you’ll never advance.”
The Challenge Within the Industry
A huge part of John’s mission within his passion is to be an educator, a guiding light for those who are hopeful in pursuing a career in barbering—but that doesn’t always mean that John’s optimism about the industry is overflowing.
“Instagram is causing a big lack of confidence,” he said, “and it’s a misleading reality.” John believes that barbers are now cutting for Instagram, not for the clients. He challenges barbers to sit back and reflect on their time with a client—did you teach them anything about what to do at home? Did you provide them with an experience they deserved? Or, did you just cut something incredible to throw on Instagram?
That’s one of the biggest challenges plaguing the industry now—a lack of customer service. Clients deserve an experience, respect, and your full attention—as a barber, are you truly just in it for the elaborate Instagram photo?
The Business Tips He Wants You to Acknowledge & Advice Worth Noting
Save your money, set boundaries, honor your time, and respect the journey—that’s the best thing advice John can offer to barbers in the industry.
Stop wasting your money on things you don’t need—save up, invest, and honor your brand financially the way it deserves.
The best advice John can give? Stop comparing yourself to other barbers. Everyone has their own path, and it’s vital to respect the process and only measure yourself against yourself.
“You have your own time clock, always try to improve yourself every day. If I wake up on Tuesday better than I was on Monday, then I accomplished something.”
Don’t rush your process, John says. You can’t come out of school and immediately become an educator. Learn the tricks of the trade, learn your own brand—give yourself time, the success will come.
Keeping Up—What’s Next for John Mosely
Always hungry and always hustling, John’s got more than enough upcoming events, educational seminars, and brands coming up this year.
The beautiful thing about his brand, Popular Nobody, is that no matter how big and bad it gets, John will always be there to be anyone’s barber—sure, he’s worked on celebrities, but why does that mean he wouldn’t work on the guy next door, too?
John’s instilling that mindset and attitude into the barbering industry through a special focus on education—especially through his upcoming, 20-city tour called Elements. Of those cities, 12 have been released already, and everyone on the tour with him is an educator, a barber who owns multiple businesses, and of course (in true John fashion), will include barbers you’d never expect. The idea behind Elements? To teach every single barber that every single element of the industry needs to be covered, and more so, to act as a foundational tool for teaching barber that it’s not just about how you cut hair, but rather, how you build for your future within the industry.
For John, growing, learning, and educating are the keys to success—and to him, it only makes sense that he’d want to share those tools with other barbers.
To score tickets to Elements or to see if one of your cities is on the tour list, check out the event page, here:
Author: Gianna Michalsen