With over 3 million TikTok followers and hundred of videos of transformational cuts, it’s no wonder this Calgary-based barber is known as a “surgeon with the clips.”
20-year-old Nigerian-Canadian Doc Dami (a.k.a. Damicuts) is already proving to be a master barber. Dami goes above and beyond your average barber. Not only are his clients walking out looking like a new person, he’s also delving deep into conversation. He’s all about self-improvement and quality work. When he’s not changing a life with a fresh cut, he’s working on himself and spending time interacting with his followers.
He’s the real deal. And though he doesn’t operate out of a barbershop, he’s still carrying on the legacy of the barbershop chair being a spot where Black men can be vulnerable and have real conversations.
Of course, aside from that, his fades and line-ups are immaculate. So you get why, on top of regular people, his client list also includes high-profile rappers like DDG, Roy Woods, and Dax.
Below are mildly edited questions and answers including Dami’s insight on his self-help books, his growing business, and his life since his “surgical” fades blew up on TikTok.
How’d you get into cutting?
How I started was just out of curiosity. Being younger, I was curious about a lot of things. Soccer was actually my first love and everyone was playing basketball, so I was like, “OK, I’m going to learn a new sport completely just because it was good,” you know? So I just watched a lot of YouTube videos. Got myself a ball and just kept on dribbling, dribbling, and it was similar with the clippers. My dad used to shave my head bald because he didn’t want to pay for a barber… he was our personal barber for me and my brother. So I was thinking, how am I going to get a better haircut than what I’m getting for school, because this was back in grade 6 and 7, and I was rocking a fresh bald cut. And it was like, it’s bad. So eventually I said, “Enough is enough” … I started going on Google, looking at cool cuts, and I started getting fascinated with it. And my brother was actually my first client. I cut his hair and it wasn’t too too bad—I thought it was OK at the time, but when I look back at, it was terrible. But it motivated me to just keep going … I messed a lot of people up at first, which is how you start, but eventually I picked it up and I understood how to do it. Then practice, repetition. I ended up becoming better and better.
How’d the social media side of it start?
I started posting on social media four years ago and I have this screenshot of my account with a different name and like 25 or 100 followers when I started. I was asking everyone to give me a shout out and support, and when I look back at it, it’s crazy, because the jump from what I used to be… People used to not want to get a haircut from me and now I don’t even have as much time to cut people’s heads and they want a haircut. You know, I’m grateful for that. That’s crazy and I wasn’t expecting that to happen.
Where do you do your cuts? Are you in a shop?
I like to work in an environment that I can control, because I don’t like getting distracted too much. And at a barber shop where everybody is trying to talk, I can get a bit distracted. I’m more of a quality over quantity type of person. I see it as art, so I like spending like an hour on a cut or even a little bit more if I can. I want it to be perfect. Working at a barber shop doesn’t allow me to do that because they just want the next person and the next person… You can get addicted to that money chasing and it becomes about speed. I was almost heading that way when I was in the shop, and I didn’t like that. Money was growing, but eventually I understood that if I focused on quality over quantity, there’s more money in that. A lot of people don’t see that.
“I get a lot of DMs from people showing me their hair and asking if I can save it. I go through the DMs and I flag the ones that actually need it.”
So what’s a Dami cut cost these days?
Sometimes I don’t even charge people. Cutting hair isn’t my main source of income anymore. I have my own brand of products. It depends if they have a good heart… It’s more than just a haircut, so sometimes I don’t want to collect. I don’t advertise “free haircuts,” but yeah. [Laughs.]
For those who do pay, do you have to educate your customer? Like, there are lots of guys who just figure a cut should cost $20, right?
I read a lot of books now and one of the ones I really loved is The 48 Laws of Power. One of the chapters talks about the law of scarcity, meaning the more scarce something is the more valuable it is. That’s why gold is more valuable than water even though water is more important than gold. When you’re harder to find and harder to book, people are willing to pay more. I made myself more scarce to where not everyone has access to a cut, so now more people are willing to pay more for a cut. It’s crazy, I’ve got a guy DMing me and offering to pay $2,000 for a cut, and that’d never happened before when I was focused on quantity. But when I made myself scarce, it kind of started to save.
Those kind of books, when I started applying them to business, it’s crazy. Books have had a big impact on my business.
Give me some other business/self-help book recommendations. What else have you read that’s really impacted you?
I’m going to say Atomic Habits. That’s a really big one. It talks about how to change your environment to make your habits stick. Because habits and motivation have a lot to do with your environment. If you’re surrounded by people who don’t want to make it or who are comfortable, you start to copy that habit of being comfortable.
If, for example, I have books all over my house and no TV, to go to an extreme, eventually all I’ll be doing is reading because my environment just has that.
Another example of how I changed my habits was by pairing something that I hated with something that I loved. So, I loved watching anime, but I hated running on the treadmill. And I was like, how am I going to lose this weight? I put my iPad on my treadmill and I would watch anime and I would just be walking and I didn’t even notice the pain because I was so interested in the anime. So making a ‘habit bundle’ is one of the best ways to build a habit.
Tell me about your products. Where do we get those?
The way I market my products is very indirect. There’s a link in my Instagram bio. I say it’s recommended, but I don’t say, “Hey guys, buy my product.”
You’ve got a hair growth oil and a hair curling product, right?
Yeah, right now I’m adding more, including a hair gel. That’ll be a big one. But I’m focusing on quality.
I noticed there’s a trend with curly hair. Everybody wants curly hair now… and I get asked a lot how people can curl their hair. So I asked my suppliers to make the best product for curling hair.
“I don’t want to cut hair because I have to, but because I want to. But I feel like there’s something bigger to life than that… because once I have it all—the money, the status, the girl—what’s next?”
How do you decide whose hair to cut? Are you picking random followers or walking up to random shaggy dudes on the street and being like, ‘Bro, let me cut your hair’?
I get a lot of DMs from people showing me their hair and asking if I can save it. I go through the DMs and I flag the ones that actually need it. I do cut people who don’t really need a transformation, but the ones I pick for content are the ones that actually need saving. So I just go through the DMs and go, “I got you and I got you.”
How many cuts do you do a day or week?
Less than two, usually. I’m focusing on quality, so at most three a day. And that’s on a rare day.
What’s more difficult, the cutting of the hair or the managing of the influencer business that you have found yourself within now as well?
Cutting hair is super easy now. I’ve done it so much that I don’t even really think about it. I’m thinking about something else in my head, so my brain just does it on autopilot.
The business aspect and influencer thing… I’m just trying to understand the algorithm. It’s tricky. There’s a log of engagement in it, but sometimes I feel like the way the algo works is weird. I just try to figure out the pattern, when to post and all that. It’s tricky.
How are you defining success in your future?
That’s always changing as I grow. The things I wanted last year aren’t the same as this year. Basically, I’ve started digging deeper within myself to see why I do what I do and what I really want out of life. I do want financial freedom—that’s one of my biggest things—but I still want to cut hair. I don’t want to cut hair because I have to, but because I want to. But I feel like there’s something bigger to life than that… because once I have it all—the money, the status, the girl—what’s next? That’s what I’m trying to discover right now.
The biggest thing right now is building my relationship with God. A lot of things that happened to me today I don’t think is me alone… it’s God. So much stuff I can’t explain how they happened. I definitely want to build that faith.
Do you usually have conversations like this with the people who sit in your chair?
Oh yeah! They love it. It’s one of the reasons I love cutting hair is to talk about stuff like this.
I’ve seen a couple videos of you playing one-on-one basketball where the loser has to shave his head. How many times have you done that?
I’ve done it twice.
And you won them both?
Yeah, I used to play basketball back in high school, so I have a little experience.
Look man, I’m washed up, but I used to ball and I’m still six-foot-six. I can still get wrists over the rim. I’ll take the challenge if I can get out to Calgary.
Look, I’ll give you work, man! I’m decent at basketball. I’m five-foot-nine, but I can dunk.