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The Daily Tar Heel

Joe Han: UNC’s most interesting man alive

UNC senior Joseph Han, a former beauty consultant, travels the world spending weekends abroad in places like the Philippines.

UNC senior Joseph Han, a former beauty consultant, travels the world spending weekends abroad in places like the Philippines.

Ask any question about meeting a celebrity or traveling the world — most likely, Han has done it.

He’s curled Blake Lively’s hair, lived near Ben Affleck and laughed it up with Conan O’Brien.

By weekday, he’s in classes, and by weekends, he’s in his favorite spot — a remote island in the Philippines.

But the UNC senior’s life wasn’t always so glamorous.

Han was on his own at 18. Struggling to support himself, he slept in Taco Bell bathrooms and ate paper to survive.

“You boil paper — toilet paper, publication paper, anything — and you mix it with Elmer’s glue,” he said.

But his life was about to change. He was taken in by a family from his church and started working in their business — The Beauty Supply, a Michigan-based company in desperate need of a new business model. And Han had the solution.

“I wanted to set people who were on the wrong path on the right one,” he said. “So I told them about the beauty industry in Hollywood.”

Han tripled the company’s profit in three months. But he didn’t stop there. Realizing he could set himself apart by offering more than just products, he became a beauty consultant himself.

He’s worked on blockbuster hits like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” helping create the characters’ signature looks and picking up some colorful stories along the way.

“When I met Samuel L. Jackson as a beauty consultant, he was really chill and down to earth,” Han said. “Not at all what I expected.”

He later left the beauty supply industry to pursue financial advising — a field he said wasn’t always easy for a young professional. But he earned clients’ trust and found success yet again.

“I guess I had a little knack for it, but I really just focused on delivering the extra little bit,” he said.

“If you really do something you love, you’ll want to go beyond what you’re asked.”

For Han, “going beyond” meant getting to work early and staying late. Most importantly, it meant having confidence in himself.

“You don’t have to be 22 to get into the real world. Start early. It doesn’t matter how old you are if they see the promise you can bring.”

But Han isn’t all business. His friends say he’s the life of the party and can entertain a room with his stories.

“Some of his stories are hard to believe because one day he’ll just decide to jet-set across the world or talk about meeting Victoria Beckham in Spain,” said Han’s friend, Kalin Williams.

Dustin Carden was Han’s roommate sophomore year and said it took a while to adjust to Han’s lifestyle, like when he traveled to Paris for a summer to learn how to cook.

“At first it caught me off guard when he just would take off on a trip to Europe,” Carden said.

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“But after a while I just stopped trying to figure out when Joseph was going to come back or do his homework.”

While some college students cringe at the thought of missing class or pulling all-nighters, Han said his lifestyle reflects his priorities.

“If you think about what you do every day — by the minute, not by the hour — you can see how much time you really have,” he said. “So even though schoolwork is important, traveling was a priority for me.”

For Han, it boils down to exploration.

“Try experiencing everything you can think of. Just try it. You’ll be surprised at what you might like,” he said.

“And if you try new things, you’ll find a new self.”