VicBlends Will Give You a Free Haircut—and So. Great. More.

DOOM-SCROLLING THROUGH TIKTOK nonsense is how all of us discovered VicBlends.

In most of his clips, Victor Fontanez, 25, is originate air someplace, strolling as much as strangers. “I’m a barber and I give out free haircuts. I would in point of fact like to bless you.” There’s an affectation to his relate that claims hip-hop rap battles. For the period of haircuts, he spits bits of sage wisdom (“Bro, in most cases your largest blessings don’t attain till the those who must be out of the image are long gone.”) while running a cordless razor thru somebody’s unkempt mess. It’s calming, in an ASMR draw, uncomplicated, and one thing immense swaths of the Records superhighway is not: unapologetically hopeful.

As of some months in the past, some VicBlends videos pick up looked a bit hundreds of—slicker and further polished—thanks to a particular legendary NFL quarterback. They feature an proper barber’s chair, extra than one camera angles, and movie crew. The basic of those videos begins with B-roll and a scripted voiceover to intro his visitor: “There’s finest one GOAT. My title is VicBlends, and this is DeepCut with Tom Brady,” he says, losing the title of the stamp made with the help of Shadow Lion, Brady’s command studio.

Brady and Fontanez bro-hug and No. 12 says, “I’m feeling love I need a lower, man.” Fontanez goes to work, asking questions love: “What is it now that it’s seemingly you’ll well be furious to learn?” Brady talks about contemporary enterprise ventures, turning correct into a broadcaster subsequent NFL season, his investments into teams in boat racing, soccer, ladies folk’s basketball, and pickleball. Brady says he hopes his onerous work can inspire others: “Whatever folks create in life, how create they skill it and maximize it?”

vicblends tom brady

courtesy Shadow Lion

Fontanez (fair) about to buy the clippers to Brady (left), in the basic episode of DeepCut.

vicblends tom brady

courtesy Shadow Lion

Put up-lower, Fontanez and Brady hug it out.

On the 56-minute mark, the video breaks to commercial. VicBlends pitches dog meals. VicBlends feeds branded snacks to his rescued pit-boxer combine. Which, whenever you happen to’ve been following VicBlends since covid, the advert can feel love a file-scratch. However can you blame him for cashing in? He’s maximizing life.

Soundless, I carried the seek data from of about whether or not VicBlends had bought out with me when Fontanez invited me out for a haircut of my pick up. How powerful of this high-schooler-turned-mega-social-giant title become once staunch and the arrangement powerful is the sneaky TikTok branding that has attain to dominate the platform?

When he opened his front door for me in suburban Atlanta on a Wednesday morning, Fontanez wore a matching sweats outfit, green hoodie and pants from his clothing line. “Planted,” they mentioned, matching the tat shut to his fair look.

He handed me a water after which provided one to a chum I brought alongside, who declined. “You sure? You gotta build hydrated. It’s staunch considerable,” Fontanez mentioned. He become once so earnest. It looked love he surely cared about our hydration level. VicBlends-level advice about our water intake.

We adopted him up a steep staircase to a second-ground loft space. 1,000,000-dollar craftsman vogue two-epic in a pleasant neighborhood, his dwelling is stuffed with tasteful artwork, sublime chairs, the rescued mutt on his heels as repeatedly. After he provided me a haircut, I noticed the chance to flip the questions around on him and stare if VicBlends runs deeper than a news feed identification.

Fontanez started with a No. 2 guard on the edges as I requested him how he got right here, to Records superhighway popularity, bigger than 3.5 million followers on Instagram and 15 million on TikTok, the build he’s surpassed 243 million likes. “Lately I’ve been falling in fancy with folks’s stories,” he says. On the opposite hand it’s not love that’s contemporary, essentially. “I had the gift of gab early. I didn’t pick as much as convince anybody of what I become once speaking about,” he says.

The barbershop has lengthy been someplace guys walk to focus on. Combine that venue with the proven put up-unhurried-evening-stamp format of chunk-sized interviews (Sizzling Ones, Chicken Store Date) and enhance. However it’s seemingly you’ll be in a region to’t also carve rate the actual fact that VicBlends has a effectively-developed sense of the human condition.


courtesy Shadow Lion

Fontanez sports a shirt from his The Planted Collective clothing line.

In high college, Fontanez devoured self-serve tapes. He’d purchase up snippets and slogans that he’d strive to repeat reduction to chums. He cribbed a Rockefeller quote in senior yearbooks: “Quit what’s apt for what’s great.” The formative years laughed at him reduction then, when he tried to tumble his data, nonetheless he recognizes now there become once no sincerity, apt traces he memorized. His sincerity emerged in other geographical regions of his life.

For the period of my haircut, Fontanez recalled gassing out early in a inferior-country speed, and in a while he couldn’t pause the tears. “My dad become once love, ‘Why are you crying in front of everyone?’ However I’ve repeatedly been so emotionally invested in the rest that I did.”

And after his failures, Fontanez would walk to the barbershop: Barber Kings, a Fayetteville space Sundiata “Sean” Morris and a chum opened in 2007. Most kids pick up a infamous day at college and they’re moody, brooding, unexcited. However Fontanez would attain in and focus on that misplaced speed, the embarrassment of the defeat. The disgrace of Dad looking out at him cry.

A generation older than Fontanez, Morris urged me by phone that he felt in fright of this kid so in contact with himself. “I become once love, ‘Man, you’re a staunch fighter. I will finest look after that you’re so originate with me,’” he says. “That gave him the vitality and persona that he’s now.”

Sitting in a folding chair in his loft, I tilted reduction as Fontanez started working on my beard. He talked about the total methods he failed early. He become once sure he’d be a talented skateboarder, a division one runner, a talented athlete in the total sports. His folks pictured college for him, nonetheless Fontanez wished to coach Morris, his mentor. Fontanez says he started cutting hair in his folks’ storage, ready tables on the aspect.

One evening in 2017 while working at Rudinos, a sports bar that bakes grinders in the pizza oven, a man busted thru the front door and rushed straight to the bathroom. No one else in the space known him: Dennis Smith Jr., the newborn from Fayetteville apt drafted by the Dallas Mavericks. Fontanez stood originate air the can, repeating to himself, “There’s an NBA participant in the bathroom!” Fontanez stopped him on the vogue out and mentioned, “I would perchance well love to give you with a haircut.”

“The roughly folks he sought out, he realizes now, had been ‘THE LONE TRAVELERS.’ Anyone who seems misplaced, short of a transformation.”

Factor in for a moment you’re an NBA rookie who needs to piss so infamous you bustle correct into a sports bar. You attain out of the bathroom and there’s this kid who obtained’t reduction you permit. Smith, the damaged-down NC Thunder giant title, some extent guard who’d quickly web 16 aspects in his first NBA sport, stopped to listen. Fontanez had one closing enterprise card in his wallet and handed it to Smith. And later Smith texted him.

All the pieces modified when Fontanez lower Smith’s hair. Rapidly Fontanez become once the barber for baseball and NBA gamers, rappers and hip-hop stars. He moved to Atlanta. It become once 2019, and VicBlends grew to change into barber to the filthy rich and well-known.

The pandemic ruined it. Social distancing forced us to create our pick up buzzcuts. Fontanez tells me he can’t endure in mind the build he got the foundation initially, nonetheless in some unspecified time in the future when the lockdown lifted, he went to a park, and provided folks free cuts while a chum from high college videotaped it.

The roughly folks he sought out, he realizes now, had been “the lone travelers.” Anyone who seems misplaced, short of a transformation. Kids are apt too, since the youthful generation seems to select up discovered from ours, Fontanez says, “There’s extra acceptance of mental health prognosis and apt personalities that folks pick up, whether or not or not it’s your, , your sex, your gender, whatever it is that you fancy. There’s apt so powerful extra openness on the planet to those things.”

VicBlends videos dropped reduction when we all wanted apt news: John Krasinski’s experiences of pandemic heroes, Ted Lasso’s positivity, and VicBlends’ advice while cutting the matted and unkempt and desperate. At a time when we had been all lone travelers, VicBlends wished our advice and provided his pick up.

There’s the social worker, who Fontanez requested about mental health. “You realize what? Everyone is made differently. In most cases they’re apt drained and they compose not know attain out.” The advice Fontanez gave a kid from Venice Seashore is the one which stuck with me, telling Fontanez he wasted his closing three years after not going to university. “Man, I don’t mediate there is no such thing as wasted time,” Fontanez spoke back. “You paid for a lesson, and that lesson damage bigger than others. However as a minimum now what that you can pick as much as create to assemble sure that you by no draw pick up that feeling again.”


courtesy Shadow Lion

Snapshots from the Fontanez x Brady episode of DeepCut, some of which feature Fontanez’s father.

There’s this entertaining little kid, Omar, explaining that you shouldn’t pick up belief points if somebody doesn’t textual command you reduction. Also, Omar needs to assemble sure that each kid on the planet doesn’t walk hungry. As his fade comes together, Omar says: “You gotta walk it down. If somebody helps you, you’ve got to serve somebody.”

For my lower, Fontanez moved on to the spray bottle and scissors to take care of the pause of my head. I watched grey-tinged hair shower his rug. I requested him about when he blew up.

Fontanez says it wasn’t overnight precisely, nonetheless there had been instances when he’d pick up tens of hundreds of as much as the moment followers, then a lot of hundreds, a million in a week. “I couldn’t essentially understand it,” he says. He tried, and he says he soundless tries not to bother with it, not to clarify success by views. “It would not topic.” He pauses some time after pronouncing that. “You realize, life is bigger originate air of social media. So love, who am I to treat somebody hundreds of thanks to what I surely pick up online?”

Big things are taking place for VicBlends now. He has that clothing line, Planted, with plans to assemble bigger into dwelling goods. He has a barber college, VicBlends Academy. There’s a e-book in the works.

And he launched DeepCut, that longform vlog of well-known particular person interviews. Tony Hawk and Lil Yachty sat in his chair for the sequence. For the period of that first episode with Brady, Vic shocked his dad, Mel, a lifelong Patriots fan, by introducing him to his hero. “I nearly pooped my pants after I noticed him,” Mel urged me. “He’s a extraordinarily apt man. He’s taller than I assumed he become once.”

“Every little SUCCESS FELT LIKE HIS VEINS RAN WITH CAFFEINE. He couldn’t sleep, and he went three days with out closing his eyes. He become once too busy to admire and skipped exercises.”

Mel says he sees his son as pure, some roughly Buddhist monk of barbering. “I’m orderly proud of him. He’s a apt young man with a apt coronary heart, and he’s showing it in his draw.”

He explains that his son become once an military brat, oldest of 4. Born in Germany, Fontanez become once raised there for a time, then Texas, and at closing Fayetteville, N.C. He become once a small kid, picked on and bullied in most cases. He had a sensitive draw about him and devoured classes and advice. His father remembers his so looking out out for to repeat Sunday sermons to chums, as if one kid would perchance well lecture one other on redemption.

This all sounds meteoric, a Hollywood initiating build epic that came from humble beginnings. However about the time he bought the dwelling in October 2023, Fontanez says he felt one thing alternate. Every little success felt love his veins ran with caffeine. He couldn’t sleep, and he went three days with out closing his eyes. He become once too busy to admire and skipped exercises. Nonstop euphoria, with out a second of downtime.

“Your mind is running nearly a thousand miles an hour. You roughly feel love you bought the whole lot on the planet found out,” he says. “I cracked the DaVinci code on every secret to the realm.”

Then it crashed, a crushing darkness, a feeling of sadness that actually damage. A chum lastly known what Fontanez had and urged him to head stare somebody. For 24 years Fontanez had been this positive power that would perchance well flip every setback, every plug from failed whatevers, into motivation. However the psychiatrist he noticed gave him the prognosis: bipolar disorder. For the remainder of his life, he’d must buy meds and be careful for manic swings.

Fontanez again and again went over the same spots on my aspects and beard and the reduction of my neck, the work of a perfectionist. He talked about accepting an incurable mental sickness. It’s regular, I attempted to reassure him. “I imply it would not feel regular. Undoubtedly would not feel regular. And that would perchance well be a onerous thing to acquire that, okay, for the remainder of my life, this is gonna alternate things.”


courtesy Shadow Lion

Fontanez flanked by his dad, Mel, (left) and his brother, Alexander Sokirkin, (fair).

It’s one thing now that he channels, connecting him better with the folks in his chair. He devours their advice, internalizes it, makes it his. “Anyone urged me that God hides the most traditional sources on the planet. So diamonds and gold are discovered whenever you dig for them. They compose not apt lay on the bottom.”

Earlier than he completed, before the wax to tame my colic, I requested Fontanez about the initiating build of Planted, his mark, nonetheless also his face tat. He talked of a tree, and I represent the immense oaks originate air draped with Spanish moss. He spoke of leaves altering color in fall. The same tree goes bare in wintry climate. Then it’s green and opulent in summer time, those same branches once bare and now beautiful with flora, perfumed, and savory.

“And you mediate about a particular person. We will all undergo hundreds of seasons of life. However the tree would perchance well not ever walk wherever as lengthy because it stays planted. And unless you buy away your roots, it’s seemingly you’ll stand huge thru whatever it is. By all four seasons. So I mediate being planted is apt being grounded in who it’s seemingly you’ll well be, what you divulge.”

Heading out his front door with the most traditional haircut of my life, beard so supreme and straight my wife would in an instant speed her arms over it, I believed him and in the philosophy of being planted. A convert to the wisdom of VicBlends, the barber preacher of TikTok.

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