THEN: Manager, general operations
NOW: Barber, Sweeney Ted
Ted Lee wasn’t in the best of circumstances when he decided to become a barber: Almost two years ago, he found himself unemployed after his company closed down operations in Jakarta, which prompted a period of self-reflection when he returned to KL.
‘After months of toying around with different business ideas, it occurred to me that perhaps what I was looking for was right in front of me all along,’ he said. ‘I had already been cutting hair for friends and family as a hobby for two years so it struck me that I could actually make a living doing just that.’
In 2016, he made the leap to becoming a professional barber, creating his own brand, Sweeney Ted, and based himself at The Oven Cuttery and OTHRS Barbers for a year before moving out to his own space in Jaya One this past May. Ted admits that becoming an artisan wasn’t something he dreamed of becoming – it was almost as if he stumbled upon a craft he never really considered until his mid-30s.
‘I was always in corporate, but I never really loved what I was doing and perhaps that was why I never truly excelled at it,’ he said. ‘But barbering made sense because I was happiest when I made people look good and feel good. In retrospect, what compelled the change was the fear of living a mediocre life to the end without finding and living one’s career passion.’
Business is coming along nicely for him now, but his start didn’t come without its fair share of sleepless nights. ‘I started barbering a few days before our daughter arrived, and that was a financially and emotionally tough year for my wife and I,’ he said. ‘What really made a difference was the unconditional support I got from the people around me who really mattered. I hope I did right by my daughter and I hope that this will inspire her to follow her passion one day against any odds.’
The School, Jaya One Level P1, 72A Jalan Universiti, PJ (sweeneyted.simplybook.me). Tue-Fri, 11am-8pm; Sat- Sun, 10am-7pm.