KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Thousands of barbers from across the country will gather in Knoxville for the Tennessee Barber Expo. It's a project put together by a man who hit rock bottom then built back his life.
Tyler Trotter opened Clean Cut Grooming Lounge a couple years ago.
It's "a barber shop where we can mix traditional barbering with the new styles and the new trends," he said.
It's an important part of Tyler Trotter's renewed life.
Cutting his son's hair guided him to this profession.
"I started watching YouTube videos so I could learn how to cut his hair and once I started seeing how to that this obsession, this sense of purpose, really kicked off," he said. "God is the answer of how I got inspired to be a barber."
Years ago, before he built his team as a Master Barber, his life fell apart.
"On December 26, 2010, I robbed the Walgreen's that's on Broadway and that's because I was addicted to everything, literally everything. Narcotics had taken just over control of my life. I had lost my kids to DCS. I lost my home. I lost the family that I had created at that point. I lost all sense of direction and purpose in my life," he said.
Tyler Trotter went to jail for a year and as soon as got out he went right back to using drugs.
"I could feel the withdrawals already starting again. Like my body was asking for more drugs. And I just prayed, I said God, you've got to help me. You've got to be real. I need help," he said.
He found the answer to that prayer in a 12-step program.
"I am now clean. My life is good. And now I have a sense of direction in my life."
He shares his story and more on his own YouTube channel.
A friend of his with a similar personal background put together barber expos in Connecticut and in Las Vegas. Tyler and his business partner, Bianca Dyon organized the Tennessee Barber Expo.
Sunday, October 20
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
World's Fair Exhibition Hall
"It probably would have made more sense on paper to do it in Nashville. But I don't live in Nashville. I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. And we've got a bunch great barbers. This industry is exploding right here. So it just made sense to have it right here," he said.
Barbers will learn new techniques from experts, check out vendors, and show off their own skills.
"We've got barber battles, design battles, student competitions. I expect that the energy is going to be live. It's going to be hype," he said.
The next day he'll be back at Clean Cut Grooming Lounge.
"Jesus Christ saved my life. My life is so full right now. To have a purpose-driven life and to be able to just move and do what you're supposed to be doing. There's no feeling like it. I have never experienced peace like this in my life," he said.
Tyler called a help-line to find a 12-step program to beat his addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction then call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)