Grooming goes way beyond finding the right hairstyle or a cool personal look. In a wider sense of the word, it's the process that makes us the people we are. Fathers groom their sons to become men, equipping them with all manner of important, hard-won lessons along the way. Raising his son Zane, V76 founder Vaughn Acord saw firsthand how incredibly difficult, yet tremendously important and rewarding that can be. So with Father's Day coming up, Zane asked Vaughn to reflect on their early style education, their connection through music, and the profound experience of being a dad.
Zane: Was becoming a father something you always knew that you wanted at some point in your life?
Vaughn: I didn't really think about it until I met your Mother, then I knew we would create a family someday. We took our time, and it happened beautifully. I ended up with very healthy kids, and I couldn't be prouder and happier with our family.
Zane: What was your first reaction when you found out that you were going to be a dad?
Vaughn: It kind of hits you right in the spine. Fear and excitement together! I think it also hit me pretty hard because I didn't have a dad. He wasn't around for all those years that you and I have shared. And having lost my mother at an early age, at 30, when you were born all those feelings came back to me. What I took away from it was that there's just nothing that moves you like life and death. It just touched a place in me that doesn't get visited very often.
Zane: As I got a little older, was it important to you that I have the same interests as you?
Vaughn: I got some great advice from a client, who happened to be Michael J. Fox. We would share stories of our kids and he told me, "Vaughn, he's not you. He's going to go his own way. You're not going to dress him forever. You're not going to influence his music forever. You're not going tell him how to behave. At some point, you've got to understand—and the sooner you do, the better off you'll be—that he's his own thing." Just hearing that from him was a real wake-up call for me.
Zane: We both share a love of music. When did you first notice I was into it, and how did you go about encouraging that?
Vaughn: You've always had an innate percussive rhythm that a lot of players, when it comes to playing a lot of instruments, don't have. A natural ability to follow a groove and rhythm. And I kept pushing you into guitar, because I was a drummer, and I wanted you to at least get exposed to it. When your mom got sick, you started to really study and get into it. I saw that was another pivotal moment where you just buried yourself in the music, on your own a lot, and got a lot of emotions out.
Zane: What are some memories that stand out about you teaching me to play music and us playing together?
Vaughn: The times I really remember are showing you things on the drum kit. I'd say, "You're not playing them, you're hitting them, and there's a difference. There are times to hit it hard, and there are times to back off of it." And showing you things: What your left foot does, what your right foot does, all that kind of stuff.
Zane: All right, moving on then toward the issue of grooming. When did you start teaching me about style and grooming? How did you begin that conversation?
Vaughn: It started early with you. You would insist on a pompadour every morning for Pre-school, and god help us if it fell before we got to the school! You liked to take chances with your look and you trusted me. I would say, "Do this, do that," and you did. The conversation was always easy. It was kind of nudging, more than it was teaching you about grooming.
Zane: So how would you assess my personal style overall?
Vaughn: You think about it. That's what's cool. I've noticed it when you're on stage, too. It's not just that you're in front singing, but that you think about how you're moving up there and you think a little bit more about how you look than the other guys do. And the way that you own it up there, it just draws you in. You just feel it.
Zane: All right, now let's get into more personal questions about being a dad. Looking back, how would you say fatherhood has made you a different person?
Vaughn: Well, there's a certain responsibility aspect that kicks in. I didn't have a good relationship with my dad, and I just never wanted to repeat it, you know? And I didn't. I could never imagine having two kids right now, walking away from them the way my dad walked away from me. The amazing part of being a parent is what you learn about yourself through your child. I am definitely a better person today as a result of my children.
Zane: So was your experience as a kid a big motivating factor for you as a father?
Vaughn: Yes and no. I didn't need to be motivated. I was happy in my marriage and with my kids. This is where I'm very rich. I may be working my ass off for my business, and to keep this brand going, and to create new opportunities, but where I am a very wealthy man, is my family.
Images courtesy of Vaughn Acord