Julius Warren Jr. has been cutting hair since he was 13 and said he still remembers when his father handed him his first pair of clippers inside the family's barbershop in the early 1950s.
Warren, who is now 77, will pick up the clippers for the last time later this month when he retires from the business, now located off Cradlerock Way in Columbia's Village of Owen Brown.
A lot has changed over the years, but Warren's Barbershop, which was started in 1945 in Jessup, has remained, making it the oldest traditionally African-American barbershop in the county.
Warren will hand over the business to his daughter, Brittany, and his son, Julius III, with the hope that the family-run business will continue for decades to come.
Warren owns two barbershops, but is selling the second one called Village Barbershop in Oakland Mills and run by his son to move into the larger space in Owen Brown.
"This is going to be the biggest, and most professional shop I've ever had," he said standing in the new space on a recent afternoon.
"My father told me to never sell an asset, but I'm going against his words because I'm 77 and I want to turn it over to my kids. I want to combine the two so my son and my daughter could run them together."
In addition to the traditional barber service, Warren's will continue to offer a barbering school called "The Prestige School of Barbering."
Snip off the ol' block
Warren's Barbershop opened in Jessup in 1945 when Julius Warren Sr. moved his barber business and family, including 7-year-old Julius Jr., from Baltimore City to Howard County.
Warren recalls it as being a true family business.
"My mom did hair, my sister did hair, we all did hair," he said.
His mother also operated a beauty shop next door. He said he quickly learned a lot about the trade and soon knew he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps.
"I am a son of a businessman," Warren said, sitting inside his new shop. "I would watch him, admire him; it gavme me the initiative to say, 'Hey, I want to do that.'''
After graduating from Harriet Tubman High School – an all-black school in Simpsonville – in the 1950s, Warren enlisted in the Air Force. After serving four years, he returned to Jessup to cut hair at his father's shop.
In wasn't until the 1980s that Warren took over the business from his father. While cutting hair, he entered a number of business ventures that included owning a janitorial service, a liquor store, residential properties. He also developed a shopping center on Route 1 and Route 175.
He said he moved the barbershop from Jessup to Columbia in 1992. He has been in four spaces since then, leading to Owen Brown. Throughout all the moves, however, he said he has maintained his client base.
"Everybody knows the name," he said.
Some members of that client base have tried to convince Warren not to retire, or to at least make special exceptions for them.
Warren has the same answer for all of them: No.
"I'm going to work on my handicap," he said, referring to his golf game.
With his retirement getting closer, Warren said he has had time to reflect on his professional life.
He said he is proud to have followed in his father's footsteps, and happy to leave the business to his children.
"This is a living; you may never get rich cutting hair, but you can make an honest living," he said.
Travis Hamilton, 41, of Baltimore, is one of the eight barbers working at the barbershop. He said he has worked for Warren for 15 years and will miss having him around.
"His presence is always going to be here, but he will be missed," he said.
Web Demas, 29, of Columbia, called Warren a mentor: "He taught me everything I know," he said.