Cuts going mobile
Their services will be in demand for years to come.
In fact, owner of Faders barbershop Kirkly Greenidge told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that “no time soon will anybody replace barbers”.
“It is not like you are going to get a machine to put on your head and punch in a couple of numbers and you get the haircut you desire,” said the barber of over a decade.
Following the start of the economic downturn about four years ago, some people have opted to cut their own hair or that of their children in an effort to reduce their spending. But that was not always working out, as Greenidge explained. A haircut can cost as little as $10 at some shops to as much as $25 at other places.
“We find a lot of females trying to help their little boys. Instead of bringing them to the barbershops they try to risk cutting their hair and then they have to bring them to the barbershop anyway because their hair get destroyed. We have seen a lot of that now; repair jobs, because the females are trying to cut back,” he said, speaking above the whirring of a machine being used by one of his employees at Carlton Complex, Black Rock, St Michael.
Faders has one other location in Southern Plaza, Oistins, and ten employees.
Greenidge has been operating the Oistins branch for over nine years and at Black Rock for the past three years. Business fluctuates with this time of year usually the busiest, he said, adding that since the recession there has been a slight fall-off in business.
“People normally come every two weeks but now it is every month. So basically people are cutting back right now,” explained Greenidge.
This barber also battles high operation costs.
“Both locations are air-conditioned. The Oistins location runs from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and this location runs from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. So the hours are long. Therefore, we use more electricity and the light bills are high,” lamented Greenidge.
He was quick to point out however, that what set them apart from the competition were good customer service and the high level of convenience which Faders offered. Greenidge said he would like to see a higher level of professionalism in the industry.
“It is fairly competitive but every man has his barber that he likes to cut his hair. So once you do a good job and be professional you have no problem . . . . Some barbers open when they feel like but it is all about serving the customer and being convenient to the customers in terms of working hours,” he added.
Greenidge has already embarked on a mission which he hoped would provide added convenience for clients and garner new ones.
“Next year we want to do a mobile barbershop. Instead of you having to come to the barbershop we come to you. We can go to children’s homes, senior citizen homes, the disabled; people who may have difficulties getting here,” he said, stating that they already did so but on a very small scale.
In addition, the 39-year-old said he had his sights set on expanding his operations over the next two years after “stabilizing” the Black Rock operations.
Faders works closely with a barbering school by offering internship to students. He welcomed the framework which was set up over three years ago to help develop the beauty industry, in particular barbering.
“It is very good because in the past we used to get a man that was self-taught but now the barbering school is teaching it as a profession the right way; hygiene, the business aspect, [and] work ethic. After the students graduate, they come and check up on them and help them with job placement,” he said.
Working long hours was perhaps the part of the job Greenidge least liked, but the best part for him was meeting people.
“I get the good, the bad and the ugly, farmers, lawyers, doctors; a whole cross-section of people,” he quipped.
Noting that it was important for those renting a shop space for their operations to maintain a good relationship with their landlord, Greenidge said he was able to get “sound business advice” and was “pointed in the right direction” by the owners of the Carlton Complex.
“That is something that you don’t find nowadays,” he said, “and that is important. It is not always about just collecting the rent. They ensure you are doing okay.”
In offering some encouragement to young aspiring barbers, Greenidge said in this environment it was necessary to “identify your target and work towards it”, adding that “it is important to have your employees legal”.