How Baker became an 'Everyman'
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
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Bryson Baker is a Stillwater native who thought he would go into medicine after shadowing medical students at University of California-Berkeley Medical School.
He started out as a pre-med student at Oklahoma State University, but after taking a theatre course to satisfy the humanities requirement, his path started to diverge.
“Math and science have a problem set where you work toward an answer,” he said. “Acting is almost the complete opposite. It’s about how good of a question can you ask. Then you explore it and maybe you arrive at an answer and maybe you don’t.”
Baker ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies, which allowed him to combine countless disciplines into a customized degree. He stayed at OSU to complete a BFA in acting before getting his master’s in acting. His plan following graduation was to move to L.A. to pursue acting, but he ended up meeting the love of his life, Raychel, and staying in Stillwater.
In 2011, after marrying Raychel, he took a job in the Student Union, specifically managing the Apple contract through the University Bookstore. He built a team which is now known as Orange Tech from the ground up. With his new-found skill set, Baker sat down at his kitchen table to start planning what he wanted to do next. He came up with a list of the things he was passionate about and brainstormed how to combine all the things he loved in a singular business.
“I like alcohol, responsibly. I like coffee. I like barbering," he said. "I like menswear and I have a deep desire to give back.”
With the help of an allegorical poem titled “Everyman,” he found the name of his business and started turning his idea into a reality. He spent over a year focusing on further diversifying his skill set and meeting with people from all over the state that he could learn from, whether they were coffee roasters, bartenders or barbers.
It started out as selling neckties at a local barbershop and led to a building of his own in 2016 at 713 S. Main St. in Stillwater. His diverse background has allowed him to better connect with the community and solve problems in unique ways.
“I think it helps me when I meet with clients, when I am strategizing about business and permits because like my scene partner in an acting sequence, the customer is my focus. If I am not focused on my customer or on my fellow stage partner, I lose,” Baker said.
Throughout all of this, Raychel was battling an irreversible lung disease that eventually left her completely bed ridden and needing oxygen. In 2018, she was placed on the lung transplant list and the two began praying for a miracle. The couple and their young son moved to Oklahoma City to be closer to Raychel’s medical team.
It was a hard transition. Baker had begun teaching at OSU in the Department of Theatre and was continuing to run his Stillwater-based business. He made it work and on Aug. 16, 2018, Raychel received a double lung transplant and was able to breath unhindered for the first time in her life. Obviously, their lives changed for the better.
Fast forward to today and Baker is expanding his business. Recently, he bought a property that will allow Everyman to grow and become something new that no one has ever seen before. The new property will have an even larger coffee bar, haberdashery, and barbershop than their current location, while also allowing them to add a bar and spaces for patrons to hang out and study. He is also putting himself through barbering school.
On top of all that, Baker continues to teach at OSU. He teaches a course called ‘Introduction to Stage Entertainment.’
“I am unapologetic that I am not an academic," Baker said. "What I am is somebody who is passionate about theatre and understands the applications of theatre to an education major or a chemistry major. I want to open their eyes to the idea that theatre is not just actors.”
When he started attending OSU, being a professor and business owner was not on his radar and yet through a diverse education and an open mind, Baker has managed to do incredible things.
“I feel like taking an exploratory approach to education is so powerful," he said. "The College of Arts and Sciences really provides that, with the diversity of courses you can take and how you can bundle together degrees.”