Koko Da Barber Talks Career Journey, Business Ventures and Starting a Nonprofit

By Daniel J. Newton

Jashley Green, known by many as “Koko Da Barber,” is a barber from Tampa, Florida, who has taken trade and entrepreneurship to another level. She owns her own shop called Shear Utopia, has a brand called Krown by Koko and, recently, started her own nonprofit organization, Trades Aren’t Taboo. She has generated a following of over 38K on her Instagram, @kokodabarber, where she shares her barbering work portfolio and the other projects she is working on.

She is especially notable for her work as a barber because the majority of barbers in the industry are male. According to Data USA, 76.2 percent of barbers are male, which means Koko is part of the minority of women in the barbering field. However, she clearly has not allowed that to hinder her success.

Humorously, Koko says that barbering was a mistake. She wanted to enroll in the cosmetology program when she went to school, but it was full, and she was stuck with barbering. Looking back, it seems like things worked out for the best.

Koko speaks with Heart and Soul and shares about her career journey, owning a shop, products she sells, and the starting of her nonprofit organization.

KoKo Da Barber

How long have you been barbering? What was it like for you in the beginning?

I have been a barber for 11 years as of August. In the beginning a challenge was getting men to trust me as a barber because it is a male dominated field. But once they saw my work, and once the notoriety went around, it became easier. A lot of people, for some reason, trusted me a little bit more than they did males.

How have you developed over the course of your barbering career?

Just confidence! At first, I used to be timid and barely spoke. But once I got better at my craft, generated more clients, and could see myself growing, the shyness went away. Now I’m not afraid to speak in public. I talk to anybody, especially about following your dreams and choosing a trade or entrepreneurial path for your life. 

Natural cut and color done at Shear Utopia. Photo courtesy @kokodabarber

Beyond barbering, you are the owner of your shop, Shear Utopia. How do you like being a shop owner? What can people expect to experience when they walk in the door?

I love being a shop owner! I no longer service men, but the women can expect a haven to come in and be serviced and feel relaxed to talk about whatever is going on in their lives. A lot of women are doing the big chop. Many are cutting their hair off because of drastic changes in their lives. Most times they want to talk about these changes, so I provide a place where they can feel safe to tell these stories.

Some products from KROWN by KoKo.
Photo courtesy @kokodabarber

You also have a brand called Krown by Koko. What products do you offer?

I created Krown so that when ladies cut their hair off, we can provide them with accessories, t-shirts, and different things to sport their new looks. It could be earrings, glasses, shades, just something to really bring out your haircut and your attitude. I try to coin the statement, “we style from the ‘krown’ down.”

Also, you are newly the owner of a nonprofit: Trades Aren’t Taboo. What was the inspiration for starting this nonprofit organization? What is its mission?

It started because I decided to take on a trade. There is so much that I did not know in the beginning. With Trades Aren’t Taboo, our goal is to help people have success in the entrepreneurial and trade-based arena. So, for grades 8-12, we want to make sure that if they want to be an entrepreneur and college is not their thing, then they take it seriously. We are going to give them the tools and lessons to help them be successful early on.

Trades Aren’t Taboo logo
Photo courtesy @tradesarenttaboo

What advice would you give to someone interested in taking the trade and entrepreneurship route?

Focus, focus, focus! Really bunker down and decide that this is what you want to do and go all the way. It’s no days off. You must be hands on and be dedicated to getting better and learning more.

About

Koko Da Barber is an award-winning barber whose artistry and inimitable style makes her one of Florida’s most sought-after stylists. She specializes in “The Big Chop,” a haircut best defined as a liberation from the everyday, a chance to break from the status quo, and an invitation to explore one’s best and boldest self. An experienced and energetic entrepreneur, Koko owns Shear Utopia Unisex Salon in Tampa, Florida, where she creates fierce looks, maintains a professional, focused atmosphere, and provides excellent customer service that is second to none.

Born in Ft. Myers but raised in Tampa, Koko can trace her flair for creative, daring expression back to the age of twelve. As a girl, she explored different hair braiding techniques and designs, even giving herself a “big chop” to boldly switch up her style. She went on to graduate from the barbering program at Lively Technical College in Tallahassee, and now, with over a decade of experience as a barber, stylist, and entrepreneur, Koko leverages her upbeat personality, her dedication to lifelong learning, and her generous spirit to expand her brand and contribute to her community.

Koko has won numerous awards for her cuts, styles, and business acumen, bringing home trophies and receiving commendations from the Curtis Smith Show, Premiere Hair Show, and Main Stream Expo to name a few. Confident and passionate about her craft and her community, Koko has spoken at industry, entrepreneurship, and mentorship events and programs locally and nationally.

“I want to see my clients smile,” Koko says. “But most importantly, I want my clients to feel empowered and confident when they leave my salon.” 

About the Author

Daniel J. Newton
Florida A&M University
School of Journalism and Graphic Communication

Source List:

Jashley Green (Koko)

Phone: (813) 631-1900 | Email: kokodabarbertampaflorida@gmail.com

Statistic in introduction: https://datausa.io/profile/soc/barbers