How Trulaske student Derrick Tatum's passion led to a thriving barber business

Derrick Tatum

By Elleyna Rudman

It can take years to get a business started. It can also happen in an instant. The latter is the case for junior Derrick Tatum.

Tatum, a finance student at Trulaske, desired the freedom and flexibility that entrepreneurship offered, and after talking with friends, he quickly decided to become his own boss. His business of choice: Barbering.

After taking Winter Break to learn his craft, the Columbia native unveiled his new business in January 2022 at 20 years old. Now, Tatum manages a thriving brand that is growing fast on social media. The first step to starting his new business, though, was to learn to cut hair.

Barbering requires intricate skills, and Tatum is completely self-taught. Through careful observation, studying YouTube videos and practicing on himself along with his friends and family, Tatum formed a deep understanding of the trade. His expert techniques and attention to detail have proven to be a strong backbone for the business, too.

Not only does Tatum possess the technical skills of a barber, he has a real passion for it as well.

When asked about his favorite part of the job, he said it is seeing his clients’ faces when he finally unveils his work.

“You realize how important you are to someone’s day,” Tatum said. “It’s one of the main things they’re looking forward to.”

Tatum's business, coined Deuce Fadez, has already achieved significant success.  His Instagram account, filled with tips on cutting hair and videos of happy clients, has already amassed over 13,000 followers. In addition, the success of that account has led to Tatum securing a secondary source of income from brand deals and promotions.

When asked how he came to learn the ins and outs of social media management, Tatum said a lot of it was watching other influencers and paying attention to what worked and what didn’t. Additionally, Tatum is currently enrolled in Marketing 3000 with Associate Teaching Professor Joel Poor, a class that has played a large role in fine-tuning his social media presence. Instead of solely focusing on content he likes, Tatum pays attention to the needs of his audience. He then curates his posts to meet these demands, resulting in increased engagement.

Tatum's success is due to his excellent observational skills, enhanced by his involvement with key organizations on campus.

Derrick Tatum

He currently works as a resident advisor (RA) with Mizzou Residential Life, and this role has provided him with some valuable skills that he has transferred to his everyday business operations. Tatum admitted that the RA life is busy, but the time management he has learned from this position has helped him run his business smoothly for the past year.

Tatum’s involvement doesn’t stop there. He is also a Vasey Academy Scholar, a program of distinction at Trulaske that provides students from underrepresented groups with mentorship and networking opportunities. With the goal of giving these students access to a variety of career-oriented skills and experiences, the Vasey Academy works to ensure equity and inclusion in Mizzou’s business school and beyond.

After all the success Tatum has achieved in the past year, and the good things sure to come, he makes it a point to mention that his friends are a significant source of inspiration.

“I have an amazing support system,” he said. “I’m lucky.”

Many of Tatum’s friends are driven entrepreneurs themselves, running their own small businesses. For example, Tatum cuts hair out of his friend Ve’s apartment. Ve owns a hair-braiding business and, like Tatum, documents her work on social media. Sharing a workspace has even led to collaborations between the two entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, Tatum mentions that Mizzou’s commitment to entrepreneurship is highly encouraging. Should he ever need help with his business, he knows the university provides an array of resources. Trulaske offers a variety of ways for students to pursue their business ventures, from a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation management to the Entrepreneurship Alliance, an eight-week program that allows students to plan and build on their business ideas.

So, what’s next for Tatum?

He plans to continue his studies while running the business and growing his social media. After graduating from Mizzou in May 2024, Tatum expects to attend barber school and become licensed, allowing him to open his own shop. Then, with hopes of expanding his barbering business and hiring employees, he intends to use the extra time to pursue a career in real estate investment.

Learn more about Tatum on Instagram or TikTok: @Deuce_Fadez.