Green Bay Packers barber: From poverty to business owner
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The official barber for the Green Bay Packers says landing that job has been life changing, yet it wasn’t easy getting there for someone who grew up in the southside of Chicago.
“You can imagine, gun violence you know. Rapes...Drive-bys. You just name it. Anything that’s bad, we experienced that living in the projects in Chicago,” Hansel Canady told Action 2 News as he was cutting a customer’s hair.
This is part of WBAY’s series celebrating Black History Month.
Hansel Canady owns Hancan Barbershop in downtown Green Bay and has a following on social media, even getting shout outs for his haircutting skills from people like popular podcaster Pat McAfee.
But there’s a personal story he doesn’t share publicly.
Canady moved to Green Bay with his family as a kid attending Lombardi Middle School. His mother wanted a better life for her children.
He says the transition wasn’t easy, yet he saw an opportunity in northeast Wisconsin to reach his full potential and become a better version of himself, which is what he set out to do.
In 2016 he opened his boutique barbershop without any knowledge of running a business. He currently owns two of them, including one in Oconto Falls. He also has a line of haircare products.
“People would ask me, like ‘what would make you cut hair with a cowboy hat?’ Like, ‘why would you do that?’ Or like, ‘that’s very white of you,’ and all this kind of stuff. And I’m like, I needed to do something different,” he said.
His customers love the atmosphere he’s created.
“It’s not too much commotion, it’s kind of a calm environment and basically it kind of feels like home,” Brian Benitez said.
Known as the official barber of the Packers, Canady says word of mouth helped land him the job.
“I don’t look at it like, ‘oh man I work for the Packers.’ Or I’m doing this, I’m doing that. To me it’s like I’m just out here trying to survive, and that’s it. But working for the Packers has just been life changing,” Canady said.
It started with former offensive lineman Kyle Murphy cutting his hair, then tight end Robert Tonyan, followed by wide receiver Allen Lazard, and now he cuts the likes of head coach Matt LaFleur.
“The first time I ever cut his hair I was like, ‘dude I’m so scared I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing right now.’ And he tried to help me calm down and all that good stuff,” Canady said.
Canady loves Black History Month and says people should pick up a book to learn of past leaders rather than relying on social media.
Having successfully broken that cycle of poverty and violence, Canady is an advocate for mental health.
“The biggest challenges for me in breaking that cycle was I guess accepting what’s going on and what can I change. Publicly I never even said this, but actually I go to counseling,” Canady said.
He says it helps him with calming the voice in his head down and staying focused.
“Counseling is a thing that I would highly recommend anybody to do because a lot of men are too manly to admit that they need some kind of a help, you know. And like I said, with me coming from that rough background. I need that help,” Canady said.
Next week, WBAY looks into how legendary head coach Vince lombardi helped pass a fair housing bill in Wisconsin and the efforts he made to make Green Bay more equitable.
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