Growing up, Sean Casey had the odds stack against him: he came out of the womb addicted to heroin, from a mother who died from the disease just nine months later. He went to live with his grandparents, did poorly in school and surrounded himself with others who lacked motivation.
In high school, Casey received a wake-up call in the form of his newborn son and a sudden need to provide. He started barber school and his hidden entrepreneurial spirit began to emerge, really taking shape when he moved in 2006 from New York City to Fort Myers, where his son was then living.
“When I came here I had a five-year plan for myself to open up one barber shop and just build up my network,” Casey says. He did it in four.
TwinCutZ started in 2010 with just six chairs and two barbers at the height of the recession, once again leaving Casey at odds with the world.
“A lot of people said it wouldn’t work,” Casey says. “But I had a strong enough passion and I knew my capability as a barber.”
In 2013, Casey got lucky when one of his original cuts—an eagle and basketball to commemorate a historical season for the Florida Gulf Coast University men’s basketball team—went viral, with coverage on USA Today, Yahoo, ESPN’s SportsNation and more.
Casey soon opened a second location at Gulf Coast Town Center, with two more after that. Today, he has four stores and 38 employees, all of whom are diverse in terms of appearance, which is not always common among barber shops, Casey notes.
“When I was working as a kid, I was … the white guy in the black barber shop because that’s how separated it was,” Casey says. “People would walk over me and I would generally have the best skill in the shop. But that’s just how shops were created—when they hire, they create for the community, and that’s what they attract.”
From day one, Casey wanted his shops to cater to every customer.
“In all four of my barber shops I have women cutting hair and men of all ethnicities, so when somebody walks in they can feel comfortable sitting with anybody.”
TwinCutZ also stands out for its community service, this past year alone donating a total of 400 full backpacks for back-to-school children and providing free haircuts, too. Casey also teaches at the Paul Mitchell The School in Fort Myers and is a touring educator for Hattori Hanzo Shears and Andis Co. In these roles, he hopes to show young adults that they can be successful, no matter their circumstances.
“For how difficult life can be, I want to set and example by showing that it’s not always about structure, as far as what’s the norm,” Casey says. “You can look at someone like me and know you can follow something you love and become great at it—who’s going to stop you?”