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Phat Cuts, Craig 'Skilz' McLaurin


Craig 'Skilz' McLaurin says the hair game changes completely every 10 years. He’s seen it happen from his shop, Phat Cuts, right off Market at 4 E. 7th Street. He’s seen it happen on the road, as he tours the country, teaching a Delaware-style fade cut at hair schools and conventions. (He just got back from the Long Beach International Salon and Spa Expo. Nice gig.) And as he pushes past 20 years in the business, he’s prepared to keep changing along with the city he calls home:

“I'm a Delaware kid from Fourth Street and I'm going across the country, teaching people how to cut like the guys cut in Wilmington. It's the funniest thing.”

“I started off playing sports, playing football at Delaware State College, from ‘89-‘93. That didn't work out like I planned. I mean, everybody wants to play for the NFL. I caught the chickenpox when I was trying out.”

“After that, I came home and opened up my shops. It just stuck. I can't stop now.”

“My business has been downtown since 1997. I had two shops at first. The first was at 4th and Van Buren. But Wilmington, downtown, is a unique place. And I didn't want to be a neighborhood shop – I wanted to be a Wilmington shop.”

“When I moved to 7th street, I wanted this shop to be appointment only, because of the traffic I knew we'd bring. All of my barbers, except for one, does strictly appointment, and we're moving all day. People look at the barber business as not a big business, but all of us together, we might have up to 1,000 people come through our doors a week, and those 1,000 people walk around to other stores, across the street, to Starbucks, walk around downtown.”

“At my other company, Iconic Barber, I travel and teach barber classes across the country, at all the major hair trade schools. I've been doing that almost 15 years.”

“Things popped off just when Joe Biden was running for president. I had stories from my shop [then on 4th Street] in Wilmington. I could talk about Biden walking past the window on the way to the train station. That’s what it is coming from a small state. A lot of my friends in other states would never meet their governor. One of my friends, years ago – before he became governor – was Jack Markell. So I was able to be in contact when he was governor too. A lot of my friends thought that was … wow, you know the governor? I mean, yeah. Who doesn't it Delaware?”

“At the end of the day, I focus on education. Education always wins. When I was on the road teaching, and social media started booming, I took a class with executives from Facebook. They were saying how big it was going to be. How effective it was going to be. And that's before they started charging. I went to a second class when they started charging.”

“When I go on the road, every city I go to, people say, ‘Where you from?’ I say I'm from Wilmington, Delaware, from the First State. ‘Well I've never met anyone from Delaware!’ But I'm teaching them the Delaware-style haircut! It's so crazy for me. The main class that we teach, me and my partner from Philadelphia, is the five-step fading system, which is the fading system I learned cutting everyday in Wilmington on the guys that I came up with. I wrote it down, and it became my style. And I've always got to take it back – I'm from Delaware, so it's really the Delaware style.”

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North Market Street | Wilmington, DE

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