At 12 years old, Moe Shands was sitting on his father’s front porch cutting hair for members of his church and kids in the neighborhood for $5 a cut.
“I’ve always had a hustle,” Moe said. Moe is the owner of Moe Shands Barber Shop on Reilly Road.
Along with cutting hair when he was a kid, he also cut grass and wood and helped his dad, Ronald Shands, on the farm in Nicholasville.
“I grew up in the country,” Moe said. “My dad kept me busy. This was before video games. We weren’t allowed to sit in the house. I had an Atari when it came out, but he wouldn’t let me sit and play with it all day.”
Moe graduated from Jessamine County High School in 1994 and joined the Marines. He was active duty for 10 years. In his shop, hangs a picture of him with his company at Camp Devil Dog Semper Fidelis in North Carolina. While in the Marines, he spent majority of his time based out of California. He also traveled to the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan. He served as an administration clerk.
When he got out of the Marines, he decided to go to culinary school. He worked for Garden Company at Longhorn Steakhouse for almost 10 years, until his wife, Mia, talked him into going to barber school. His wife is a beautician.
“This was something I have always been doing on the side,” Moe said. “ When I got burned out in the restaurant business, she talked me into going to barber school.”
He enrolled at Bailey’s Barber College in Lexington and went to cosmetology school at Barrett & Co. School of Hair Design in Nicholasville.
Moe first went to work as a barber for his friend Lamont Jackson at Supreme Cuts on Grandview Drive. He worked for him for two years before opening up his shop at 11 Reilly Road in October 2009.
Although Moe has had several different careers, being a barber has by far been his favorite.
“I don’t do anything else now but this,” Moe said. “I love cutting hair and making people feel good about themselves. Seeing the expressions they have when I’m done is amazing. They may come here feeling one way and they leave feeling another. It’s a transformation.”
Longtime customer Peyton Roberts agreed with Moe’s statement.
“It’s a good atmosphere,” Peyton said. “There’s a lot of positivity here. People may come in here not feeling their best, but when they leave they’re happy. Moe does more than just cut your hair. He takes care of his clients.”
Moe said that he has created an environment for everyone at his barber shop.
“We cut everything and we cater to everyone in the community,” Moe said. “It’s a very diverse barber shop. I believe I am the first Black barber in town to cut everything in this city.
“I want everyone to walk out of here with a smile and feel good about themselves. Just like getting a new pair of shoes, a haircut is a part of your look and presentation. A haircut can change your image and make you feel good about yourself.”
One of Moe’s inspirations was Mr. Robert Lee Taylor of the former Taylor’s Barber Shop that was located on East Main Street.
“Mr. Taylor was one of my inspirations,” Moe said. “He cut hair here for 50 years.”
Mr. Taylor passed away in 2011 and the building was tore down. Moe helped to have a landmark put in its place in 2018.
“Mr. Taylor had three different professions,” he said. “He reminded me of myself. He was a barber, a preacher and a teacher. Everyone used to go to him.
“Mr. Taylor made a difference in young Black people’s lives. I try to be a positive influence, and a friend and a confidant. My job is not just to be a barber — I’m a doctor, a lawyer, a psychologist, a financial consultant … I want to inspire all young people. You can go and make your own way and name for yourself if you work hard at it.
“Mr. Taylor took a chance and gambled on himself, and I took a gamble on myself.”
Inspiring young people is exactly what Moe is doing. Moe said he has inspired at least 10 local young men to go on to be barbers. Some are working in the community, others have moved away from Frankfort. One local young man he inspired is Jordon Smith-Willis.
“He went off and did his own thing and he’s doing work for his community, and that’s what it’s all about,” Moe said. “People think it’s about money, but it’s the community that keeps us in business.”
Another young man he inspired is his son, Téquan Shands, 24, who has been working with him for three years.
“I love it,” Téquan said. “Being able to work with my dad everyday … I try to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Téquan said cutting hair is an art. “I’m an artsy type person. I’m good with my hands and I like making things. It’s a real art cutting hair and making people look good.”
He said his dad is the reason he is the man he is today.
“One of the biggest life lessons he has taught me is how to carry myself as a man,” Téquan said. “To hold myself accountable and to always go after what I want in this life. He’s made sure I’ve always known who I am and what I’m capable of.”
Moe continues to inspire young people every day, and one of the main ways he does it is through community service.
“I love working with the community,” Moe said. “I try to do charity events as much as possible.”
A few years ago former Frankfort Mayor Bill May proclaimed Aug. 12 as Moe Shands Day. Every year on that day Moe offers free cuts for children. “Last time we did it, we did over 100 hair cuts.”
Moe is also involved with Kiwanis, Caring is Sharing with Kentucky State University, the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.
Moe said he wants to be remembered as a person that valued his family, community and work ethic.
“I really hope I’m remembered as someone who inspired the next generation to not be scared and to create your own path. Don’t be part of the system.”
As far as Moe’s hope for Téquan’s future he said, “I hope I inspire him to go out and do it for himself. The hustle I taught him, he can take it anywhere and make a name for himself. Everything is a brand. You need to create your own brand.
“I just want him to spread his name. I don’t care what he does.”
Along with Téquan, Moe has three other children, Jordan, 28, Daaja, 26, and Asia, 18. He and Mia have been married for 25 years. They also have one grandchild.
Moe offers a full service barber shop that includes fades, sheer work, designs, hot towels, straight razor shaves, shampoos, color and more. The shop is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday.
To schedule an appointment, search for Moe Shands Barber Shop on “The Cut” app or call 502-352-2493 or 859-684-9638.