Bruce Simon [2020 Interview]
Why do you think your customers like coming to your shop?
We are professional and provide a great service. We always try to provide a client with the best customer service experience that they can receive. We actually have relationships with our clients so that they feel comfortable to come back or tell someone about us.. The atmosphere is welcoming. We’re a family oriented Barbershop that has women and children come in also
What do you do to impact your local community
We do a lot of things within the community. We were a part of a back to school event where we cut over 300 children’s hair for free and pass out a lot of school supplies. We also do the Thanksgiving customer appreciation dinner at our shop. We give people a chance to relax, enjoy each other and have a good time.
What is an important quality you look for in employees
As far as customer service, being able to hold a conversation with their client and being professional.
Bruce Simon [2019 Interview]
I’ve been cutting hair for about 10 years. I ﬁrst started cutting my children’s hair when I was in the military. I have three boys who gave me plenty of practice. Once I got out the military, I went to school to get licensed. I have been cutting hair ever since.
How did you get your license?
Well, with the military they had the GI bill. I was able to utilize it when I got out the military. My school was already paid for. I also applied for the Pell Grant and things like that, which I qualified for as well. I went full-time, and I went to the International Salon Spa Academy here in Colorado Springs. I ﬁnished in about a year.
When it came to you starting your own shop, how was that transition?
It was a hard one for the simple fact that that there are other barbers in the city has been established and the doing this longer than I have, their clientele is way up there. Luckily for me, I was cutting the military. I had a steady clientele. I think maybe I had like 20 people when I was in school. So it was very challenging for me going to school and balancing my business because I couldn’t cut hair in my shop because I wasn’t licensed. I could only manage it, so I started posting a lot on social media, advertising, and getting referrals from my clients. I went from twenty people to a hundred and then ﬁfty clients.
I have regulars that come in every week to get their hair cut. I also have clients that come in every two weeks, and it’s based off the military pay schedule. We have certain clients that come in, to get facial services done. And you know, we do the Black Mask treatment. They love that service. Some people don’t have hair, so we provide hot lather head shapes or facial shapes, a 45-minute service. Our clients are comfortable, and it’s just a relaxing environment when they come in and get services done.
Do your staff offer Specialties like in salons, or is it more-so everyone does everything?
Our goal is for everyone to do what everybody else can do. If I’m able to do something like design, black mass treatments or facials, the end result is for everyone to be able to do what I can do and vice versa. This makes us more dynamic as far as our capabilities at the shop. One of the main things a lot of our clients say all the time, ” It’s the only shop that I can go to in Colorado Springs if my barber is not here. They can go to any other Barber and know that my hair is going to be taken care of as if my original Barber was there.” That speaks volumes to us and makes us, work harder and strive to do better every day.
Earnest Jones [2019 Interview]
I am a licensed barber and cosmetologist. I have been in the hair industry for over 10 years. I have always wanted to cut hair my whole life but never really had the time to do it. Upon my return from Iraq, I took advantage of an opportunity to enroll in barber school. Afterwards, I managed a salon for a couple of years, and now, I teach barbering and cosmetology at the international salon and spa academy.
I think it’s pretty cool to have the ability to take something that you’re good at and be able to help someone else achieve the same thing. You know, there is no satisfaction like that!
Where do you see this industry headed?
There is no choice but to go up. It’s kind of like the shoe game. Everybody always needs shoes. Everybody’s going to always need a haircut. It’s just one of those industries that won’t be falling off anytime soon.
How does this industry benefit the black community?
I think the industry is big enough for anybody: black, white, green or purple, that wants to get into the industry. Being a young black entrepreneur, I felt that it was essential to establish myself, first, in the community. It’s not about self. It is about your community. A lot of people tend to make a mistake and think self before community. I think it’s important to be there for your community because those are the people that are going to support you.
What are some tips for someone considering getting into the industry?
Don’t think that it’s an overnight process that will catapult you into success. You have to work to be successful in any industry, not just this one. If this is what you want to do don’t let a little adversity stop you from moving forward and going towards the goal. I don’t know anyone in this career that doesn’t have some personal sacriﬁce they need to do to make it. Finally, just put God first, let him make a way for you.
What are some specific things that you teach in the school?
We have a variety of different programs at my school from hair, to the skin, to nails. For the barber program, we have a couple 1500 hour programs. We have full-time programs, part-time programs, morning, afternoon, and evening classes. We can ﬁt your schedule to help you get certiﬁed.