WHO DAT BarberShop

By Rick Jablonski on December 29, 2022

Lakischia Smith is the owner and operator of WHO DAT BarberShop in New Orleans. She’s an entrepreneur and now adding philanthropist to her resume with empathy, a giving heart and thanks to her vision of providing a better future for the coming generations.

She counts on the support of the New Orleans Business Alliance and offers an array of services for the members of her beloved community as well as joining forces with different organizations to further enrich the lives of those around her.A native of New Orleans and mother to four boys, she is in a happy relationship with her longtime partner.

Lakischia opened WHO DAT BarberShop while in school studying to become a nurse in 2009, with no experience in the field, just her vision and drive to succeed at a crossroads in her life. With an already busy schedule, she took on the task of building the business from the ground up, even doing some of the construction work herself to get it up and running.

She explained that she got the name from a popular cheer for the New Orleans Saints football team, who she’s a huge fan of. What she loves most about her hometown is that everyone is accepted, making it such a multicultural and diverse city, from its nightlife and distinctive music to its delicious creole cuisine.

Not being a trained barber provides her with the ability to focus on managing the daily administrative duties of the barber shop, promoting and working on her various community outreach programs and it lets her staff shine.

WHO DAT BarberShop is composed of four talented barbers: the manager, Ro, the assistant manager, Devin, the first female barber she hired, Kimberly, and another talented barber, Quest. Ro and Devin have been with the barbershop since its opening day, loyally sticking with Lakischia through good and hard times and providing all types of hair-cutting services to customers of all generations in a family-oriented atmosphere.

Over the 13 years that she’s been in business, she’s seen her fair share of setbacks, especially during the pandemic. She realized that she couldn’t give haircuts through the internet after all nonessential businesses were forced to shut down for months, making her pivot her business strategy and open an Amazon store selling all types of beauty products. Her hard work and perseverance paid off and she is now looking to expand and launch her own male grooming product line as well as a mobile app for the whole hair industry. Keep an eye out for that!

I asked her if she had any tips she wanted to share with the public about selecting a barbershop, to which she replied: “The first thing the customer should do is research the establishment, nowadays Google provides a good tool for that. Look at their reviews. Also, make sure there are good communication skills from the staff and that they can provide the specific service that you want. Look for cleanliness and overall good sanitation practices. Another good quality of a barbershop is their involvement in their community”.

As we were talking, Lakischia recalled a time when a child, not older than 10 years old, came up to her at a store while she was doing some shopping, handed her money and expressed his gratitude. This caught her off guard because she didn’t immediately recognize him, but someone reminded her that she always gave him candy from a vending machine at the barber shop whenever she saw him and he wanted to pay her back. This act prompted her to take into action something she always dreamed of being able to do.

She explained: “Since our establishment in 2009, we have embodied the value of, ‘To whom much is given, much is required’. We believe it is so very important for businesses to support the communities that support them and we started doing it small, feeding our customers and clients to show our appreciation. I believe it was the first event that we did at Veterans of America, feeding and providing free haircuts to those gentlemen and seeing the transformation, seeing the smiles on their faces, seeing them go from sadness to genuine happiness that transformed something inside of me to always want to give back.

So, I’ve made it the mission of WHO DAT BarberShop to unite philanthropy and the barber industry. We do this by giving free school supplies. We hold an annual school supply giveaway and give free haircuts as well. We give free toys to kids every year at Christmas. I and the barbers have toys donated and children can come to our barber shop and receive a gift of their choosing. We also give out free tuxedos during prom season.

We were invited and given the opportunity to go to the New Orleans Parish Juvenile Detention Center and mentor those youths, which was very rewarding for the members of staff at WHO DAT BarberShop. Being able to give back to children with free haircuts, free advice and being a listening ear to them is something we hold very near and dear to our hearts.”

In the spirit of giving back, in January of 2023 she will be launching the Read With Me Book Club for children 5 to 12 years old. With a beaming smile, she passionately tells me all about her new project, which is very important to her: “We want kids to come to our barber shop and enjoy the space we’ve created and the books we have to offer. They don’t necessarily have to join. You can just come in and receive a free book. I know that reading is so fundamental for children and, with today’s digital age and everything online, reading can be lost. The book club is open to any member of the public, as well as for our clients and customers. Come and receive a free book to keep. Or, you can return it and get a new one.”

You can support the WHO DAT Barber Shop Read Me Book Club by donating new or gently used books to the barber shop or by purchasing directly from Walmart or Amazon registry. Come experience the difference at WHO DAT BarberShop Inc.








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