Fame. Sought after by millions and discovered by very few. Megan Rae Maxwell found fame online relatively quickly, much like other social media influencers. While some people do not wear their fame well, Maxwell is an inspiring woman and uses her notoriety to spread a beautiful message. Hers is a story of rising from the ashes, destroying barriers, channeling faith, and living life as dreams take flight.
Maxwell, 27, from the small town of Knox, has more than 8,000 subscribers on YouTube. One of her videos has more than a million views. In it, she is cutting hair in her Valparaiso shop Morning Man Barbershop. The video is set to relaxing music and is soothing to watch. Even if you don't know anything about cutting hair, it is obvious Maxwell is skilled.
And yet, her YouTube fame alone felt empty. It was only when she was having a sweet moment playing with her niece that she was able to reflect on all that she accomplished, and realize what she had accomplished for herself.
Rewind to six years ago: Maxwell moved to Valparaiso, without much money or friends in the area. She worked at a chain hair salon as a cosmetologist and enrolled in college at Purdue University Northwest, where she studied communications and psychology. While Maxwell will always love writing and the study of the mind, she left school to focus on her cosmetology career.
“I prayed that God would help me find something to pay my bills and help me change lives,” Maxwell said. “I dropped out of college because I felt in my heart there was more.”
She enjoyed the business of making people feel good in their skin. In fact, Maxwell incorporated skills learned in psychology classes to provide a therapeutic experience for her loyal customers. She began to build a following of customers, and they wished she could use a straight razor during haircuts. Maxwell took the request to heart. She knew she needed a barber’s license.
It was not easy to dive into a male-dominated industry, especially since some people in the profession have a low opinion of cosmetologists. Maxwell found her home at Rated Next Barber Stylist School, where she was welcomed with open arms. With the support of her instructors, she learned the best way to cut and fade hair.
When Maxwell became a licensed barber she started working at Morning Man Barber shop in Valpo. In just a year and a half, she gained 500 clients and a 5-star rating. Maxwell’s dream was to make a therapeutic environment for her clients and to help bring confidence and healing. She is the only female barber in the area and she recently moved to a larger location with a tranquil river and trees in the background.
In that moment while playing with her niece, Maxwell felt successful. She became someone with a purpose and an example to others in her community. That is Maxwell’s definition of making it.
But Maxwell overcame a lot of obstacles to be successful. Maxwell's father was mentally ill and abused her mother, even when she was pregnant with Maxwell. The abuse caused complications and doctors believed Maxwell would not make it or would suffer many disabilities if she did. Maxwell proved them wrong. Things got better when Maxwell’s mother left her father. Throughout her childhood, she studied advanced topics like philosophy and was even a cheerleader. The baby that doctors doubted blossomed into an incredibly talented, well-loved barber, aunt, and influencer.
“The hardest part about becoming a barber were the walls in my mind that I built,” Maxwell said. “I learned to always follow my heart and stay true to myself.”
Maxwell finds it rewarding to give back by cutting the hair of children with behavioral issues who might have a difficult time in a barber’s chair.
“I can’t change the world but I can bloom where planted,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell says the support of her parents, sister, friends, and clients make it possible for her to bloom. Although she had ample love and support, there were plenty of naysayers. She encourages anyone who has a dream to go for it, no matter what others say.
“Build a bubble around your dream and protect it,” Maxwell said. “If I listened to people telling me that I couldn’t do this, and had I not taken a risk, I wouldn’t be here. Protect your dream and just do it. It’s going to take everything. You are going to lose your mind, and feel isolated, and you’ll even lose friends. It’ll be worth it.”