James "BeeStylez" Whidbee has two passions: cosmetology and music.
After serving in the U.S. Marines, he merged his hobbies into a full-time business, Smoove Cuts Barbershop, which opened in Destin three months ago.
“I just fell in love with it, I could have both in the same spot,” Whidbee said of his business. “I’ve been doing barbering for awhile now and I’ve been a DJ since I was about 10 years old. My dad was a DJ too. One thing I can remember really good is when I got my first boom box, I would put two radios together to make a new mix tape.”
Now cassette tapes and vinyl records line the walls of his barber shop, reflecting his musical taste and influence. Big-name musicians — including an original Prince "Purple Rain" record, Dr. Dre’s "The Chronic" and Kenny Rogers’ "Love Will Turn You Around" — are just a few of his prized records.
“I can’t pick one, I just love them all,” Whidbee said. “Music touches everybody … when you come into Smoove Cuts, you’re gonna have that feel.”
When brainstorming the idea for his barbershop, Whidbee said he wanted to create a place where his clients feel relaxed while getting pampered.
“There is always upbeat music playing in here,” he said. “We offer full-service gentlemen’s grooming and we block off 45 minutes for each client; it’s all about the client. I want them to just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.”
So why the name Smoove Cuts?
“Because I’m smoove,” Whidbee laughed. “My DJ name is Smoove Jammin’ James.”
There are two barber chairs emblazoned with the U.S. Marine emblem. One chair is Whidbee’s and the other is his sole employee, Holly "Barber Queen" Martin’s.
"I just love it here,” said Martin. “It’s different and fun, everyone is happy; people remember Smoove.”
Besides the music and pampering, clients can also enjoy a free beverage while waiting, play video games or watch sports on the flat screen TV. With services such as hot towel straight-razor shaves, fades, beard sculpting and kid’s haircuts, Smoove Cuts has a bit of everything for men of all ages.
“When (clients) fall asleep in your chair, to me, that’s the best feeling,” Whidbee said of what he calls his dream job. “The facial expression itself when they look into the mirror after their cut, it’s so satisfying.”