Oklahoma barber uses social media to build brand

(Photo by Michael Kinney)

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN — Alvin “AP” Payne, the owner of Payneless Images barbershop, runs an old-school type of business. With more than 30 years of experience, he knows the ins and outs of his storied profession.

But inside his establishment, Alvin Payne has an employee who challenged some of those ideas. With his camera on a tripod, a background light and desk stand with a couple of cellphones mounted on top, his corner of the six-chair shop is decidedly futuristic.

That employee is Alvin’s nephew, DeAngelo Payne, better known as “Dpayne The Barber” to his clients and those who follow him on social media.

In the 11 years since he began working at his uncle’s shop, DeAngelo Payne has helped change the direction of Payneless Images in Norman and his own career path.

“I just grew wanting to show people what I was able to do, what I was able to deliver, and that was really important for me,” Payne said. “And so, probably about three years ago, I just really took it so serious. I really started understanding that I had to invest in myself in order to be in a better position in life later on.”

Payne grew up in Tulsa with dreams of playing football for a career. But after a couple of seasons at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, he was spending more time cutting hair than anything else.

“I was in school, but I wasn’t really going to class and stuff like that,” he said. “Certain things weren’t really working out, but I grew to love cutting hair.”

Alvin Payne, who gave DeAngelo his first pair of clippers when his nephew was 9, watched from afar as he struggled in college. Then he made his nephew an offer he couldn’t pass up.

“I asked him if he wanted to come work with me at the shop,” Alvin Payne said. “I apprenticed him after I apprenticed my brother. He was already cutting at school, though. He wasn’t that good, but he was good enough for college.”

That was more than a decade ago. Now Payne is part of the new generation of entrepreneurs who have entered the barber craft looking to change the business side of the profession.

That meant utilizing social media in building the business and his brand.

“I saw other barbers and other entrepreneurs, not just barbers, but other people that were using social media to really pump their business through that,” Payne said. “And I was like, ‘Hey, this can be really effective for my business.’”

Skye Latimer, owner of SkyeRockit Media, a social media management and consulting firm, said having a strong presence on social media is imperative to building a brand, regardless of whether selling a physical product or a service.

“If you aren’t popping up on a hashtag or have no representation in the social sphere, your potential clients might not think your business really exists or will question its credibility,” she said. “Social media can provide exponential growth. It’s a fact that it seriously increases brand recognition, customer loyalty and repeat clients.”

According to Latimer, a well-designed social media account with great tweets or captions will boost a brand to the top of the difficult-to-navigate platform algorithms.

Payne got inspiration by speaking with his mother and grandmother and watching motivational speakers on YouTube. They touted the benefits of a long-term investment in self-marketing.

It also meant learning skills that would enhance his brand presence. Payne bought his own camera equipment. He started filming his sessions and posting them on a variety of social media sites.

While Instagram (he has 5,114 followers) is his favorite, Payne sees the overall potential in YouTube (530 subscribers).

However, not everyone got what Payne was doing at the start. His uncle was skeptical, at first brushing it off as something for the younger generation.

“But I’ve seen how powerful social media really is,” Alvin Payne said. “He’s really embraced what’s going on today, the new technology, the whole new way of advertising and marketing himself.

“I’m old-school; I was the guy putting out flyers and word of mouth was a big deal,” Alvin Payne continued. “But this social media thing is crazy, and he’s lit it like fire.”

DeAngelo Payne said that by going fully digital, he can open up his online schedule and find himself typically booked for 20 hours or more. He said it’s gratifying that so many people are interested. That success means just as much to the man who introduced DeAngelo to the craft and has watched him take off with it.

“I feel like I’ve left some legacy behind,” Alvin Payne said. “I feel like I’ve helped my family to be able to take care of themselves and given them a trade and a career where you can go anywhere in this world and do.

“The way he is reaching out, the way people see him across the country, he’s like a social media star,” Alvin Payne continued. I feel really good about the hands I will be leaving it in when I do step away from the game.”

This story and photos first ran in The Journal Record

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

NBA rookie has big plans off the court

By Michael Kinney

NEW YORK – When Trae Young saw the turnout, he couldn’t believe it. In his first-ever community event since being drafted and traded to the Atlanta Hawks in June’s NBA draft, the former Oklahoma Sooner was stunned by the crowd in his hometown.

He held a back-to-school giveaway at the Westwood Water Park in Norman on Aug. 1, an event made possible by Young, his family, friends and associates. They thought they had brought more than enough freebies for the children, many of whom were given free entrance into the water park. But their estimates were way off.

“We gave away 500 backpacks and we needed 2,000,” Young said. “It was crazy. It was sold out to max capacity. It was something unreal. Next year, I’m going to do something even bigger. It’s just crazy. It’s just crazy.”

Even though he has been coming to Westwood Water Park since he was a toddler, he said he doesn’t remember ever seeing that many people there. It was an overwhelming feeling.

That excitement is something he wants to create more often. But sports agent and attorney Kelli Masters said she doesn’t advise athletes to jump right into charitable work.

Young said he is determined to be involved with his hometown community in Oklahoma as well as the one in his new home of Atlanta.

“I wanted to give back to my community immediately,” Young said. “Going back to my roots and going back to Oklahoma. There are some things coming up that I’m about to do here, in the near future, even more in the Norman community.”

Young now has the money to put his plans into action. In July he signed his rookie contract that will earn him more than $15 million over the first three years of the deal. He also has several endorsement deals, including a sneaker and apparel deal with Adidas.

What once was a landscape with a scattering of pros known for generosity and charity, professional athletic culture has been transformed by philanthropy. Young said he’s ready to join those who want to do more than just cash a check; he said he wants his brand to also be a philanthropic one.

Often that means creating a foundation or charity, which is the direction Young says he wants to head. He has already pinpointed areas he wants to make a difference in. He’s big on church.

“I had two grandparents who were pastors, so just giving back to church, giving back to my grandparents’ church, giving back to churches all around the country, is something I’m looking forward to doing,” Young said.

Masters, who owns KMM Sports and does not represent Young, said it takes time, effort and commitment to set up and run a foundation correctly. He’ll need a great board of directors. And depending on his goals, he might also need experienced staffers too.

“Forming a foundation is not necessarily the best first step,” she said. “It’s something that can be done down the road when the athlete has the time, the resources and the people.”

While Young said he does intend to start a foundation, it doesn’t look like he is diving in head-first, yet. He is making baby steps toward it, though.

Just in the past three weeks, Young held his backpack giveaway and hosted the Trae Young Basketball ProCamp Aug. 1-2 at the University of Oklahoma, as well taking part in the National Basketball Players Association Camp in New York.

Dan Gladstone, a senior vice president with the NBPA, said players like to provide camps for kids because it’s a reminder of where they started.

“Players enjoy coming to camps because when they were younger, they were in camps as well,” Gladstone said. “They relate to these young kids. It reminds them of what they went through, the journey they were on to make it to the highest level. I think they like to share those experiences.”

Young can relate. His introduction to philanthropic pro athletes was also at a basketball camp.

“I remember going to Blake Griffin’s camp when I was a kid. I think there’s an old picture of me and Blake on there, on social media somewhere, where he’s holding my head. I was so small,” Young said. “I remember him talking at our camp, he was talking about a lot of people don’t ever get the opportunity to come out of Oklahoma and play at the highest levels. So I remember him talking about how you can do good things coming out of Oklahoma.

“That was very inspirational to me,” Young said. “I wanted to do something special, and luckily, I did.”

But whether it’s holding camps, creating charities or building foundations, there are still dangers for any celebrity who attaches his or her name to a cause and money is involved. Several former professional athletes, such as Baron Davis, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Moss and Lamar Odom, have been caught up in scandals involving charities.

Masters said athletes, in general, have the heart to give back. They’re not trying to make mistakes.

“They just may not have the right people around them,” she said. “And maybe the people are well-intentioned. Maybe it’s family members that believe in them and share their vision. But they really have no experience with nonprofit organizations. They don’t understand all the laws and regulations that apply. There is just so much involved.”

Masters said it’s better when the philanthropist has enough money to fund the foundation or charity and not rely on sponsors or donations. Despite his multimillion-dollar contract, Young is not at that point yet.

Whichever direction Young decides to go in these first few years of his NBA career, he said by the time he is done playing, he wants to be known for what he does on the court and off.

“I want people to remember and think of me as someone who is more than just basketball, just someone who likes to shoot threes and pass the ball,” Young said. “Someone who is big on community, big on family, big into my faith – just someone who is different. I want to be someone who you don’t see a lot of. And hope I change the community and make more people like me who want to give back and make it about others before themselves.”

Story first ran in the Journal Record

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Writer with EyeAmTruth.com

Sooners make it official: Murray to start

By Michael Kinney

For most, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion. When Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield left Oklahoma and become the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, it was assumed backup quarterback Kyler Murray would be handed the keys to the offense.

However, that was not the way Murray approached the quarterback battle with redshirt sophomore, Austin Kendall. The Allen, Texas native came it like he does everything– with hard work.

So when OU coach Lincoln Riley told Murray Wednesday that he had earned the starting job and Kendall would be his backup when the season opens Sept. 1 against Florida Atlantic, Murray took it all in stride.

“Obviously, it’s a huge honor for me,” Murray said after practice Wednesday. “Something I have dreamed of, working hard forever since I got here. It’s a moment ever since I started playing I’ve been working for this. For me to be named the starting quarterback is obviously a huge honor. I know the standard of the position at this university, so it’s my job to uphold it.”

According to Murray, Riley called him and Kendall into his “big” office to deliver the news. While he wasn’t sure he would be named the starter, he had a feeling what the meeting was going to be about.

“We play next weekend, so it had to be soon,” Murray said. “He texted me and told me to come meet, I had a feeling that this is what it was about.”

According to Riley he just laid it out plainly that Murray was going to be the starting quarterback.

“These are elite athletes, they are competitors,” Riley said. “They don’t want you to beat around the bush. They want you to just tell them straight. That’s what I did. I told them both what the situation was and what the expectations were going forward, what we based the decision on.”

According to Riley, competition between the two stayed close throughout camp. But he wouldn’t give specifics on what Murray did better to win out.

“It was pretty simple honestly,” Riley said. “I don’t know that there is some elaborate breakdown that we have. As we looked at the whole body of work we just thought he was slightly ahead of Austin. So it was a very close one, stayed that way. One of the closest I’ve been involved with. They both did a tremendous job. At the end of the day, only one can do it. We’ll need them both to be successful this year. But Kyler is going to be the guy right now.”

What made this quarterback battle so intriguing were the things that had nothing to do with football. Murray was selected No. 9 overall in the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics. He later signed a guaranteed contract worth estimated $4.7 million.

Despite that, 5-foot-10, 190-pound Murray insisted he would be coming back to Oklahoma for at least one more season to play football.

“I came in here every day ready to work,” Murray said. “Trying to get better. I think I’ve been playing the best football of my life these past couple of months. As of late, going from my freshman year at Texas A&M to being with coach Riley has obviously helped me a lot. Sitting behind Baker has helped me a lot. Now it’s time to go, put that to the show. ”

Murray is in his third season at Oklahoma after transferring from Texas A&M. He played sparingly last season behind Mayfield as he completed 18 of his 21 throws for 359 yards and three touchdowns. He added 142 yards on 14 carries.

The prevailing thought has been that Murray’s ability to use his legs and break open plays on the ground was an advantage that Kendall didn’t have. However, Riley said people are underestimating his ability to throw.

“Guy wouldn’t be able to play here, nor would we recruit him here if we didn’t think they would be a good enough thrower,” Riley said. “It starts with that. It starts with the ability to lead, it starts with the ability to throw the football. Everything else is all well and good, but our guys are going to have to be able to do that. He’s going to get his chance. People can say this or that, but he’ll get this chance to show what he can do.”

Murray said he got a text from Mayfield earlier in the day congratulating him.

According to Riley, Kendall took the news as expected.

“He handled it in a very mature way,” Riley said. “He certainly was disappointed, wants to play. For a guy like him, he can’t sit here and say what I did here over the last several months didn’t work. What he did over the last several months did work. He’s much, much-improved player. It’s going to help him a lot going forward.”

However, just because Kendall didn’t win the starting job now, doesn’t mean he won’t get his chances to get on the field this season. And, as Riley explained, no job is bench proof. Every day is a competition.

“That’s where the competition comes back, because they know we have two good players in there,” Riley said. “They know the expectations of within this offense, the expectations we have of the quarterback’s performance and out our offense’s performance. They realize that this is for the next 10 days and the first snap against FAU. Then after that, it’s about who’s playing the best. We keep the competition always going here. No matter the position, no matter the time of the year. That’s just what we believe in this program. Quarterback is no different.”

Center still undecided:

While the quarterback starting spot has been settled, Riley said no decision has been made between Jonathan Alverez and Creed Humphrey in the battle for the starting center.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider with EyeAmTruth.com

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