Eric Castellanos was raised on tough love, but it was his father’s devotion that instilled a strict work ethic without any tolerance for excuses. From his father’s father, the value of family was passed down to Eric, who is a living example of those principles for his three children. Two of them, Darian and Sergio, work alongside their father in the family businesses today.
Long before Addison’s Barber Parlor became the quintessential experience for men’s haircuts in Key West, and years before he imaginatively fused art, barbering and a neighborhood bar into what is now Beards & Brews on Stock Island, Eric Castellanos knew the world owed him nothing; that to get ahead, he had to apply the lessons his grandfather and father had taught and showed him throughout his early life.
In their own words, Eric Castellanos and his sons share the lessons of wisdom, integrity and unconditional love of family that have been imparted through the generations.
Eric Castellanos, 47
Owner, Addison’s Barber Parlor / Beards & Brews
Every barber should honor the code. Clients talk to you. When you’re a real barber you honor the code of confidentiality. You don’t want to be a gossip queen behind the chair. There’s honor in that.
My friends used to think I was crazy, that opening one and then two barber shops was too big a risk. You have to push through the naysayers if you want to succeed.
I started cutting hair at 14. I was cutting my friends’ and other guys’ hair from the football team in my backyard for $5 a cut. It was putting money in my pocket and my parents weren’t well off back then. The struggle was real.
If I could go back and tell my 18-year-old self something it would be, don’t wait until you’re 33 to get your shit going in the right direction.
My father was always strong and supportive and a badass DJ. To my understanding my grandfather worked in government and raised my dad real hard. My dad owned Joe’s Records and he opened Miami’s first daytime gay bar called The Second Landing. But the music game took its toll on him. He almost died working two jobs for his family while going back to school to become a cardiopulmonologist. But it stuck with me. Sometimes you have to work 24 hours a day.
Everything was falling into place until COVID hit. It was too good to be true. We were working on Beards & Brews and I was ready to pull my investment. But we just kept persevering. We had a lot of clients that were good to us. They know who they are. And I will always be thankful to all of them.
Being a barber is like being a doctor. It should always be purpose over profit. I always feel like cutting hair means everyone needs you at different moments. Fathers bring in their sons for their first haircut and there’s trust in that and the bond you build is par none. When it’s done right it becomes a brotherhood.
My first job in Key West was at JCPenney. I was the Al Bundy of shoes at JCPenney.
My wife has always kept pushing me. That woman is the best thing that ever happened to me.
My three kids get the same version of me. I love them the same, so the expectation is the same. I expect a lot out of them.
Raising kids today is hard. You’re doing it against social media. They think they know everything because it’s on Facebook or Tik Tok.
I define my children’s success through watching them accomplish what they set out to do. Watching them set goals and reach them brings peace to me. They can do no wrong to me. Except when they don’t listen to me. That’s one thing that upsets me.
I’m most at peace when I am at home after work and I get to snuggle on the couch with my wife and family. If your family isn’t around when you’re making it, what’s the point of succeeding? You’re nothing without your family. If they don’t love and adore you, you have nothing. Because that’s who you’re doing it for.
Gregorio “Darian” Castellanos, 22 – Barber / Rapper
I grew up in a barber shop. I liked how happy everyone was there. I heard good conversations and how the community really works. I learned to cut hair on my grandpa’s friends and my friends. And when I got good I started cutting everybody.
Risky Blunt is my stage name. I fell in love with rap in high school here in Key West. We rapped at lunch in circle battles. Some would clown each other. Some did it to express themselves. But it was always a good vibe and a good time. I just really got into it and took it seriously. Today I have over 500,000 streams from across the world on all platforms.
Cutting hair and hip-hop are both art. Both are literally expressions. In the chair everyone brings up music. And when you’re in the industry, rappers always need haircuts. It definitely goes hand in hand.
Cutting hair has taught me confidence. I started taking it seriously as I got older and got my first chair at 14. Being younger, people would misjudge me by my cover, but I got really good really quick. It’s crazy, because it’s a small island, but the seven barbers I was always around here are still the best I’ve ever seen. So just growing up and watching, I feel like I’m a hybrid of them.
What people don’t understand about rap is you have to be willing to grind effortlessly. You hear about people blowing up out of nowhere and that’s not true. You have to grind for years. You need capital, an investment plan and a budget.
I’m proud of opening up for some of the biggest rappers in the world, like Little Dirk and Kevin Gates, in front of 10,000 people at a sold-out Orlando Fairgrounds Amphitheater.
I think my dad wants me to always better myself. I’ve always worked hard and strived to be a better person because of my dad.
One of my favorite rap lyrics is one I wrote. “Call it what you wanna … I do it for my mamma.” Because what’s more important than your mom?
My dad is proud that I am determined. And that I want to be like him in bettering my family. To give until it hurts and to always be known as a good person.
My father taught me the art of barbering. It is a lifelong experience. And that patience is a virtue.
Watching my dad with my mom is a beautiful example of a healthy relationship. I’ve seen them overcome obstacles and keep us together as a solid family unit. By watching them it taught me to always love your wife and to always treat her like you’re still trying to get her. To just love your wife no matter what.
My favorite memory with dad was catching a 35-pound tuna on 10-pound test line. It would have been a world record had my dad not grabbed the rod, but he wanted to make sure I had it.
Making music allows me to speak my mind with no filter. To get out my anger and express happiness, love for my wife, things I’ve been through. I like to see how it affects people in the moment.
The best advice I’ve gotten from dad is “sometimes you’ve got to cut off the rotten apples because they can spoil the rest of them.”
Sergio Castellanos, 18
Bar Manager, Beards and Brews / Professional DJ
Being behind a bar is a lot like being a DJ. You have to be good at making people groove and have a good time. Both are like being someone’s counselor. In just one song you can keep or lose someone’s attention or mindset. So with both, you are always aware of your heart rate and are always asking, ‘Am I in the conversation? Do I see how everyone feels and vibes?’
Something most people don’t know is that I worked on a farm for three months after Irma. It was a place where Wagyu beef comes from called Eleven Oaks.
Working on a farm taught me discipline, hard work and dedication. It taught me to get my hands dirty and work. When I lived there, nothing was really given to me. It was a privilege to live with the family that gave me that chance and to be around them and work in their structures of being in a different lifestyle and seeing life from a different perspective.
It’s not easy waking up at 5 a.m. to do farm chores before a school day.
I learned something about my dad when I moved away to Pennsylvania after (Hurricane) Irma and it seemed like things had hit rock bottom. But my parents still managed to keep the family motivated and moving forward. It was never a “woe is me” moment and we refurbished what got damaged.
If you’ve ever ridden a horse you would know it’s more than just putting your heel to the pressure point of the horse. But if you take the time to build a relationship with it, they actually listen to you. You just have to talk to them and they will go exactly where you want them to go.
One of my favorite memories with dad was from February of this year. I threw a show with a Spanish Reggaeton artist named El Luniko with a group of promoters. And my dad showed up. I didn’t even know he was coming. It was awesome that he got to see one of the biggest concerts I’ve done and he congratulated me on how great it was. It was a great memory.
The best advice from my dad is “when you try to look cool, you end up looking like a fool.”
Something I’ve learned from my father is teach your kids your family history so they don’t make past mistakes. Teach them to be wise and mindful of self so they can be successful.
I would describe my dad as a f–king genius. A tsunami could hit this island and he could be the last person alive and rebuild it afterwards. He has an unbelievable amount of ideas that work, with the ambition of a hungry great white. He’s just non-stop.
The perfect Father’s Day gift for my dad would be a vacation.