Career & Education

Caecilius Edwards: A barber and a fisherman

Sunday, December 24, 2017

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For most of his life, Caecilius Edwards wanted to own a boat. He got that chance when he finished second in the 2016 edition of the JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) Barber and Beauty Battle, which was held at the National Indoor Sports Centre.

Edwards, who lives in Port Antonio, Portland, finished behind Marlon Phillips, and ahead of Avril Simpson. The winning barber received the $500,000 cash prize; while Edwards won $300,000 and Simpson, $100,000. It was from his winnings that Edwards purchased a fishing boat last year.

“For a long time I dreamt about owning a boat so that I could pursue my other love, which is fishing. Therefore, when I finished second in the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle, I immediately used a portion of my prize money to purchase one,” Edwards told the Jamaica Observer.

Since acquiring the boat, he spends his Sundays, and sometimes nights, fishing. Whenever he goes at nights, he returns early enough to sleep, then heads to his salon in the morning.

“Fishing was my first occupation when I dropped out of high school,” Edwards related. “I was in grade nine when my grandmother died. She was the breadwinner, and that meant that my siblings and I were left to fend for ourselves. It was my first job and I loved it.”

Although he loved his job as a fisherman, the father of six was forced to change careers when his first child was born.

“At the time, becoming a barber was the only other job I could do, without having a boss. I could cut hair very well, having practised the skill on myself and others. That was why I gave up fishing,” he explained.

Now that he has returned to his first love, the former Port Antonio High School student said it is part of his plan to provide adequately for his children, and ultimately to become as rich and famous as the Berber king who ruled the state of Altava, now a part of present-day Algeria in North Africa, after whom he was named.

“My primary focus has always been my children,” he explained. “I want all of them to have the education I didn't get. Therefore my main objective is to get them a firm educational grounding. After that, I will work on becoming as rich and famous as my namesake.”

Edwards also pointed to another wealthy historical figure with whom he shares the name — Roman banker Lucius Caecilius Lucundus, a resident of Pompeii.

The barber of 18 years entered the JNSBL competition on the advice of friends and colleagues and is quick to point to the ways the training and workshops have benefited his career.

“The competition made me a better barber. I take greater pride in my work; I am more professional; and have more clients, because my name and reputation are out there,” he told Career & Education.

Edwards placed fourth in the 2017 staging of the competition, and although he was disappointed, he welcomed the additional experience.

“I wanted to do better for myself and was sad that I didn't finish in the top three,” he explained. “However, I learnt a lot from the competition this year.

“I now work from a salon in Port Antonio where we offer other services, and I learned not only to market my services, but also the location. I promote the fact that I do 'barbering art', and do it very well. And these skills were acquired during the competition,” he said.

It's just what the JN team envisioned when they conceived the Barber and Beauty Battle.

Gillian Hyde, general manager, JNSBL, said encouraging professionalism in the sector as well as providing tangible support to assist participants to become better at their craft and establish themselves as entrepreneurs are a few of the objectives.

“When the competition was conceived, one of the goals was to improve professionalism within the sector. We also wanted participants to be even bolder entrepreneurs. Mr Edwards' achievements represent what the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle is about and we are proud of his achievement,” she said.

The Barber and Beauty Battle launched in 2015 with three award categories — barbers, hairdressers, nail technicians and cosmetologists.

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