Tuesday, January 20

5 Year Anniversary - Thank You!

This weekend marks 5 years since I opened the barber shop in Wellsville, Ohio.  In prison terms, I guess you can say we have managed to do a nickle!

When my family, friends,  found out that I was moving to Wellsville, a small town along the Ohio River, there was one question I heard repeatedly - "Why?"  At that time, the answer was simple.  It was a good business decision based on the amount of media coverage and the hope of the new energy plant that was coming to town - Baard Energy.

Well if you are reading this, chances are that I don't have to explain that the Baard Energy plant never happened.  In short - this multi-million dollar business that was coming to town, that was promising a few hundred jobs and breathing some much needed additional tax revenue, never happened.  A crazy ass, ambitious loud mouth barber - well, that happened.

5 years for any business to stay open is a challenge.  Even for a small barber shop.  Even as I write this I can tell you I still have issues with securing an actual building lease.  Three years into things, the developers of the strip of buildings where my barber shop is housed got foreclosed on, pulled roots, and left.  I then fought with a bankruptcy attorney and reluctantly sent him check after check to be able to stay for no reason.  The village then came in and purchased the entire strip of buildings and have allowed me to stay open.  You read that right.  The village, including council, the mayor, financial planners, etc. are now allowing me to keep the doors open for now until they can secure a buyer.  You won't find that anywhere else.

In the course of the last 5 years I have watched repeatedly as the community and surrounding areas have pulled together to help those who were sick, were lost, were suffering, or just needed an extra hand.  I have had personal conversations with young men who ended up passing away and have watched as countless others have passed away, never to return to that barber chair again.  Death is never easy, but I think everyone around here can agree it is easier when you have an entire community act like your actual family - showing love, support, and constant word of encouragement.

One thing we have to do as small business owners, like it or not, it realize how lucky you are for each customer.  I have a guy that has religiously came to see me every week for the past 5 years.  Throwing a ten dollar bill down each week.  I still remember when I first opened I had a day with maybe only 3 customers that came in that day.  I was going crazy and then Scott simply said - "Keep your head up man.  It'll happen".  I spend about 20 minutes or more each week with Scott talking about life and cleaning him up.  I wanted to show him how much he was appreciated, not only by me but also by my business.  To do this and to celebrate 5 years, I gave him a year free of me cleaning him up.

You might be asking - why the hell would you give someone a year free of business?  That answer is easy.  From a business standpoint - this is just smart marketing.  Scott has continuously brought people in and made them aware of me.  Not only that - his haircut a shave, which I do weekly, literally only takes 10 minutes at this point.  I'll trade 10 minutes a week for a year to show appreciation to my customers.

Thursday, January 15

Group Home Choppin'

This past Sunday I got the opportunity to go to a group home in Rogers, Ohio to work a little clipper and scissor magic at a boys home.  Sometimes that change up is all you need.

The young men were from northeast Ohio.  With my unique background, I never ask what did you do to get here.  Instead I always ask 'how much longer do you have in here'.  They tell the rest if they want.  I always make sure to focus on the future.  After all, the majority of these boys were 15-17.  Young with their entire lives in front of them.  I got in there because I knew one of the staff members from the Wellsville Elks, good old Buckeye.  There wasn't much light where I started cutting and on top of that I managed to cut my thumb in the parking lot taking my straight razor out of my bag.

All in all, that facility is nice.  Some young folks just have no discipline or structure in their lives.  The group home in Rogers really put that into place.

One kid was from Kansas but had moved to northern Ohio, got in trouble with a couple gun charges, and ended up looking at a few years being in juvenile jail and transferred to the group home.  As I was cleaning him up, he basically gave me his entire run down.  He was talking to me like he wanted to brag or tell me how tough he was.  I listed to him for about a solid 5-10 minutes and finally just flipped the script a little bit.  It only took one question - "you want to be rich one day, right?"  "Oh yeah I do," he replied.  "How are you going to get rich, have fun, and spend that money if you keep fucking up and having to live in places like this?  Not only that, you aren't getting any pussy in here."

Say no more.  By the end of me cleaning him up he was telling me some back story ideas and dreams he had about being a welder because he heard welders make good money.  "Good - focus on that.  I'll be back in a few weeks and I want to hear what else you know about welding or I want you to be enrolled in that school."  Enough said.  Sometimes the best way to influence, is just by using a question and complete brutal honesty.

As soon as I got there there was a young kid with a wild fro that I cleaned up at my shop when he was younger.  All he kept saying was "that's my barber right there!  JC has a bunch of jerseys on his wall at his shop.  tell em - that's my barber right there!"  I'm not going to lie, I smiled big but wandered why he was in there.  I figured it out, but before I could this young boy came up and gave me a huge hug.  "You alright?"  I asked.  "Yeah, just a little messed up right now JC."  He quickly turned the conversation about how his older brother (who I also knew) came home from the Army over Christmas and how glad he was to see someone he knew.

There was a kitchen directly behind the area that I was cutting hair where they prepared their meals at.  This kid mentioned when I was cutting his hair that he was going to enroll at the vocational school in the culinary program when he finished up.  One of the staff members was in the kitchen about to start cooking dinner when I finished cutting his hair.  "You want to be a cook?  Then get your ass in that kitchen and help with those dishes and pay attention to how that man over there is cleaning and cutting those vegetables.  You don't learn to be a great cook by waking up one day and just opening a restaurant.  You gotta learn everything about it."  He just smiled and went into the kitchen and started helping.

I finished up after about 2 hours of cutting and took off.  When I got home I had a message from that boys mom on Facebook out of nowhere telling me how much she appreciated me going out there.  I seriously had no idea, but it was nice.  It is never easy for the person behind the walls of restraint or locked up OR the family and circle of friends they leave behind to do their time.  It was a trip well worth it and one I look forward to making on a more regular basis.

Love life.
j.

Thursday, January 8

Take a Look and Reevaluate

For those of us with minds that never stop, it can be a blessing and a curse.

I happen to be one of those people.  The end of last year, I spent quite a bit of time telling myself all of these different activities, buinesses, projects, and challenges that I was going to accomplish.  Here we are already 8 days into the New Year.  This week I took a quick (read VERY quick) leap of faith.  I was approached by a company out of Philadelphia by way of a Craigslist ad I responded to - to sell small buiness cash advances from my house.  There was a salary and decent opportunity for commission.

After my first day spent in the afternoon of my bedroom on a conference call with this start up company - it hit me.  These folks and business are too unorganized for me to take a leap of faith and put all the proverbial marbels in one basket.  Fortunately, I just took a one day personal choice holiday from the corporate gig and it was pretty quick that I realized this wasn't a good fit to me.  So at the end of the day it hit me - just shut your mouth and go to your job.  This isn't for me.

As soon as I realized that about midway through my day of making cold calls to businesses pulled from YELP by this startup company, I began to do a little reevaluation of my situation and what I really wanted out of life.  Everything circled back to my son and family and what was needed to support them.

I began doing a little drafting of different ideas as I continued making calls too.  I broke away from the calls and was home alone for the first time in well over a year.  It didn't take me a long time to realize and form a quick game plan of what I am going to accomplish this year.  Sometimes that is all that is needed.  Just a quick minute to refresh your mind. 

My issue is that I have become stale with my position and life.  To overcome this - all we really need is to find something new to incorporate in our current life to light that fire or to get excited about again.  I was so excited to start the new opportunity, but I realized it was not about the company or opportunity, but simply about the change to my routine.  Something different for the time being.

love life.
j.