In 2009, Andre Cobbs should have been planning his trip overseas to play basketball with the Philippines National team. Instead, he was facing a 16-year prison sentence for robbery and assault.

Cobbs claims he was sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit. Still, he said he had to humble himself, learn from others who had been incarcerated for decades, and try to be better.

That led Cobbs to join the fire crew while in prison.

“Some inmates did lose their lives,” Cobbs said reflecting on his time with the fire crew. While he admits seeing friends die in the line of duty for $1 per hour was difficult, he said there is a positive aspect.

“When you get out after being on the fire crew, you change for the better.”

Part of being better while in prison meant falling back on a skill cultivated by his grandmother; as a young child, Cobbs’ grandmother bought him a set of clippers, and he began cutting hair.

Cobbs said he “messed up” several haircuts before getting better. Once he took classes, he began to perfect his craft, but says he is always practicing, and he managed to improve even more while in prison.

Then, in February of 2022, Cobbs was released from prison after serving 13 years of his 16-year sentence. Because of his time with the fire crew, he was able to find a job fairly quickly, but it was a friend in prison who encouraged him to continue his craft of cutting hair after he was released.

So, shortly after his release, he headed to the beach to cut hair for anyone who was interested. People who were unhoused would get free haircuts, and those who were able to pay would do so. Soon, Cobbs was able to grow his clientele and slowly build up a name for himself.

Eventually, one client introduced him to Winnie StaCkz, a celebrity stylist who has worked with Missy Elliot, Megan Thee Stallion and Saweetie.

Not only has StaCkz made Cobbs his preferred barber, he has also invited Cobbs to be the celebrity barber for the BET Celebrity Runway Show on June 24.

“Him believing in me has made be a better person,” said Cobbs, who added that he is determined to give back and provide the same opportunities he has received.

Although he might not be at the beach as often as his demand grows, Cobbs encourages everyone to reach out to him for a beach cut when needed.

“If I’m a celebrity barber, I’m still coming back. I’m not going to change for nobody.”

Anyone interested in getting a cut from Cobbs can book him through his Instagram page.