Eli the Barber Makes Mark on Opelika

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ELIJAH MICHEL, "ELI THE BARBER"

BY DANIEL LOCKE

FOR THE OBSERVER

OPELIKA —

For many people, their haircut is the foundation of their look. It is the beginning and end of their style. No one knows this better than Elijah Michel, better known as “Eli the Barber.”

Michel has a lot of experience cutting hair dating back to his high school days.

“I’ve been cutting hair since I was 16 and I moved down here from Kansas City, started my suite, and have been pretty much cutting everybody since then” Michel said.

Eli the Barber cuts the hair of a young patron.

Being in a field that has many ways of doing things, barbers and hair stylists are often viewed as artists. This is a label that Michel is proud of.

“I like anything that is a big transformation,” Michel said of his favorite types of cuts to do. “When they haven’t had a haircut in months, and we do something drastically different.”

Michel has cut the hair of some notable people around the community, including some recognizable members of different Auburn University athletic programs.

“T.J. Finley, probably,” Michel said on his most notable haircut. “He was the most famous athlete when I got here. It was just like cutting anyone else’s hair, you just really don’t want to mess it up.”

Becoming a barber was a desirable career for Michel and one he does not take for granted. The environment is what first piqued his interest in cutting hair for a career.

“I like to understand people’s fashion as a whole,” Michel said. “Being in the barber shop and around the culture got me into it because it’s laid back. You can joke around or watch sports while working.”

The Opelika area is near the hearts of its residents, and Michel has no trouble seeing why.

“I like the historical aspect of it honestly,” Michel said. “The area I’m at is super old and they’re holding on to their heritage. I like that they are very true to the values here.”

Owning a small business is something that many people dream of, and Michel was no different. His barbershop is symbolic of hard work paying off.

“I like the fact that my hard work pays off for myself, not somebody else,” Michel said. “There is more work, but it is a lot more rewarding. If you want to be your own boss, you are going to have to work as if you are an underpaid employee. It’s a lot harder than people say it is but it’s a lot more rewarding than people say it is.”

Going to visit the barber shop is something that many people look forward to because it’s a place for conversation, bonding and just kicking back and relaxing.

“It should be more than a haircut, it should be a friend,” Michel said. “It shouldn’t feel like an errand, it should feel more like a therapy session.”

Michel had many good things to say about his relationship with the community and what has come of it.

“I would like to thank the community as well,” he said. “They’ve been very supportive of me and I’m very grateful for that.”

Appointments with Michel can be made at www.thesuitebyeli.com.

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