“What’s in a name?” For Sherri Kelley Barber, her last name is reflective of her current profession as a barber at Keithville Barbershop in Keithville, La. Before she joined the family business, Sherri was a teacher with Caddo Public Schools.
In her 23-year career in education, Sherri was a first-grade teacher (East Baton Rouge parish), second-grade teacher, teacher mentor and instructional coordinator.
“I love impacting lives and making a difference in children’s lives,” Sherris says. “Once I became an instructional coordinator, I was also able to teach teachers and parents.”
Sherri did not envision her second career as a barber to be a part of her retirement plan. In fact, she thought she would travel and visit family in her retirement years.
“I never had any idea that this is something I would be doing,” Sherri says.
It was not until her father approached her about becoming a barber and joining the family business that Sherri decided to pursue a barbering career. Her father has been cutting hair since he was 14 years old. He was the only student receive a high school scholarship in barbering. Her father was a barber at Barksdale Airforce Base for 47 years before opening his shop in Keithville.
After speaking with her father, Sherri entered barber school while she was still an active educator. Sherri completed her courses and certifications, and she gained experience in her father’s barbershop cutting hair after hours and on the weekends. In 2019, she decided to take an early retirement to relieve some of the pressure off her father.
“My dad had been working seven days a week. For four years, he did it all by himself,” Sherri explained.
While teaching and barbering tend to be separate professions, Sherri finds many similarities between the two.
“When I was an instructional coordinator, I learned about different policies and how to communicate those policies,” Sherri explained.
Sherri found this skill especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through her previous experience, she was able to understand the health policies put in place and develop guidelines to keep her and her clients safe.
Sherri has also used her skillset as an educator to expand the family business. Her nephew took a recent interest in barbering. He completed an apprenticeship under Sherri and became a licensed barber.
“It’s been a blessing to take what my father trained me to do and train someone else.”
For those who may be considering a second career in retirement, Sherri advises teachers to find their passion prior to retirement.
“What is something you are really gifted at without thinking about it? Then, start pursuing it before you retire so you can easily segue into it.”