Meet AJ Kelly, the entrepreneurial force and multi-faceted artist taking Concordia University Wisconsin by storm. Hailing from southwest Florida, this hardworking student brings a unique blend of talents to campus: managing a barber business, pursuing a blossoming career in music and filmmaking, all while playing football for the CUW Falcons.
Kelly launched his barber business in the Augsburg dormitory, offering haircuts to fellow students seeking a convenient and affordable grooming option. Word about his skills spread quickly, leading to a steady stream of customers. The customized advertisement on his door, his swiveling barber chair, and the demand for appointments in the Augsburg common areas attracted attention and customers.
Fellow students have praised his competitive rates and exceptional quality. Junior Sam Muir, who has exclusively had his haircuts done by Kelly since August, said, “Even if he charged a little more, I’d prefer the convenience and security of getting my haircut on campus, knowing it’ll be good.”
In addition to his barber business, Kelly has turned heads with his passion for music and filmmaking. He produces music videos not only for himself, showcasing his original music, but for other aspiring artists and fellow students, demonstrating his growing skills as a director.
His production company, TooFye Visuals, offers services for music videos, sports mixtapes, and photography. Kelly’s YouTube channel boasts over 36,000 subscribers and 1.6 million views, featuring a carefully curated mix of music videos, vlogs, and on-the-street content.
When asked about his journey into the world of music and filmmaking, Kelly said, “[directing music videos] was a skill I’ve always wanted.” His directorial debut was a music video for a song he and his brother co-created. “I was filming the part where my brother was rapping, and he was recording for me for the part where I was rapping, and I edited on my phone,” Kelly said. “Everyone starts somewhere.”
How does Kelly balance his responsibilities and commitments? He begins each morning with a workout and prayer, then tackles the rest of his day. Then he schedules video projects around his classes and haircut appointments. Some days, he opts for a video that can be produced more quickly than a music video or on-the-street content.
In the future, Kelly aspires to become a film director, merging his love for music and storytelling into cinematic experiences. His dedication to his craft and entrepreneurial spirit shows no signs of slowing down as he continues to seize opportunities and develop new projects.
To students seeking advice on starting their own business or pursuing their passions, Kelly says, “Sometimes you have to miss out on fun to generate funds.” The two most essential points are discipline and consistency. Above all else, he emphasizes, “Make sure you’re genuinely passionate about it, so it feels less like a job.” With Kelly as an example, the sky’s the limit when you enjoy what you’re doing.
In a campus filled with talented individuals, AJ Kelly stands out as a shining example of what it means to be a dedicated student, artist, entrepreneur, and athlete at Concordia University Wisconsin, and above all else, to live uncommon.
To stay updated on AJ Kelly’s latest projects, book a haircut appointment, or connect with him online, follow him on Instagram (@1Flisss).
—Julian Koonce is writer for The Beacon, the official student newspaper of Concordia University Wisconsin. He is a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications.