Ted Lee

Time Out Kuala Lumpur - - Dare to do -

THEN Man­ager, gen­eral op­er­a­tions NOW Bar­ber, Sweeney Ted

Ted Lee wasn’t in the best of cir­cum­stances when he de­cided to be­come a bar­ber: Al­most two years ago, he found him­self un­em­ployed af­ter his com­pany closed down op­er­a­tions in Jakarta, which prompted a pe­riod of self-re­flec­tion when he re­turned to KL.

‘Af­ter months of toy­ing around with dif­fer­ent busi­ness ideas, it oc­curred to me that perhaps what I was look­ing for was right in front of me all along,’ he said. ‘I had al­ready been cut­ting hair for friends and fam­ily as a hobby for two years so it struck me that I could ac­tu­ally make a liv­ing do­ing just that.’

In 2016, he made the leap to be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional bar­ber, cre­at­ing his own brand, Sweeney Ted, and based him­self at The Oven Cut­tery and OTHRS Bar­bers for a year be­fore mov­ing out to his own space in Jaya One this past May. Ted ad­mits that be­com­ing an ar­ti­san wasn’t some­thing he dreamed of be­com­ing – it was al­most as if he stum­bled upon a craft he never re­ally con­sid­ered un­til his mid-30s.

‘I was al­ways in cor­po­rate, but I never re­ally loved what I was do­ing and perhaps that was why I never truly ex­celled at it,’ he said. ‘But bar­ber­ing made sense be­cause I was hap­pi­est when I made peo­ple look good and feel good. In ret­ro­spect, what com­pelled the change was the fear of liv­ing a medi­ocre life to the end with­out find­ing and liv­ing one’s ca­reer pas­sion.’

Busi­ness is com­ing along nicely for him now, but his start didn’t come with­out its fair share of sleep­less nights. ‘I started bar­ber­ing a few days be­fore our daugh­ter ar­rived, and that was a fi­nan­cially and emo­tion­ally tough year for my wife and I,’ he said. ‘ What re­ally made a dif­fer­ence was the un­con­di­tional sup­port I got from the peo­ple around me who re­ally mat­tered. I hope I did right by my daugh­ter and I hope that this will in­spire her to follow her pas­sion one day against any odds.’

The School, Jaya One Level P1, 72A Jalan Univer­siti, PJ (sweeneyted.sim­ply­book.me). Tue-Fri, 11am-8pm; SatSun, 10am-7pm.

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