Nasir Sobhani is a Melbourne based barber with an international upbringing and an inspiring story born from addiction, persistence and undying generosity.
Nasir began putting his barbering skills to use cutting hair for the local homeless. As word spread of his volunteering and sharing the stories of those less fortunate, he quickly and unintentionally was launched to worldwide fame. Through his massive social following, he now wants to take his movement global and teach us all a thing or two about destroying prejudice and always staying humble.
I’m 28 years old, born in Japan and lived most of my life in Canada. At university I started studying history with the hopes of becoming a teacher and impressing my academic family. During this time I became addicted to cocaine and ended up checking myself into rehab. At 23 years old, I became sober and haven’t looked back since.
Once I was clean I got the confidence I needed to decide I wanted to become a barber, something I didn’t think my family would respect. Ironically, all my family ever wanted for me was to pursue what I loved doing.
WHERE HE BEGAN:
After leaving rehab I bought a one-way ticket to start a new life in Australia. My whole life back home, I had been cutting hair for all my boys but all I had been using was kitchen scissors and beard trimmers. Looking back I didn’t really know anything.
Without any real experience, no hairdressers or barber shops wanted me so after my daily 8 hour café shift, I would head to the barber around the corner and help out washing hair. Whatever I learned at the barbers I would practice at home cutting my friends hair.
After two years of working at the café and the barber shop, I was able to gain enough talent and enough of a reputation that a barber was willing to give me a chance working full time as an apprentice. Almost every meal was rolled oats with bananas, the only thing I could afford, but after a while I had proven myself and was finally making a decent wage.
HOW THE STREETS BARBER STARTED:
I realised when anyone would come in and sit in my barber chair they would come in feeling like a zero and walk out feeling like a hero. Something as simple as being groomed, taken care of and made to feel important – was just such an amazing feeling. This made me think…imagine if I could give that feeling to my brothers and sisters doing it tough on the street.
Growing up my family was very big on philanthropy through being part of the Bahá’í Faith, a religion based on a lack of prejudice and a focus on using your talents to benefit mankind. This is basically the driving force behind The Streets Barber project.
When I started volunteering, I tried approaching prisons and homeless shelters but there was so much red tape that I ended up just buying a pair of scissors for the streets and going out and doing my thing. One day a client of mine who works for The Age made a quick video journal on what I had been doing. Then all of a sudden I was on The Project and had PLGRM ask to do a documentary on me that ended up going viral Check it out HERE.
G-STAR Long sleeve tee | DENHAM Jeans
ABOUT THE STREETS:
It is a huge misconception that everyone on the streets is a drug addict and what people don’t realise is that many of these people are suffering from untreated mental illness and many have never lived in a real home. I share with these people my past, which allows them to open up to me.
The one thing I have learnt is that nobody truly wants to be on the streets. No one wants to be hungry and live in a place that is dark, cold and lonely. No one wants to feel worthless. It doesn’t matter if you are on the streets, if you are dirty, if you are sick, I’m still going to give you a haircut if you want it.
Right now I am doing something I love and while also getting to travel the world doing it. Getting picked up at JFK airport in a limo, getting paid to do a barber tour through Russia, signing autographs – who does that? It’s like living a double life. I’m doing crazy amazing things all over the world but then I come back home and I’m just me getting my hands dirty.
I want to take The Streets Barber international baby! What I am trying to do is create a team of streets barbers from around the world and eventually start a non-profit. I’m not the only one that can do this – we all cut hair. I’m no one special and never want to start thinking that.
I made so many mistakes when I was younger because I thought I was some little gangsta kid. I want to change now what kids think is cool. We’ve all got to find our passion and once we find that we need to use it to benefit mankind. That gives your life purpose.