Create Bridges: Small Business - Big Rural Impact

Episode 13: Cuttin Up at the Barbershop

March 11, 2021 Create Bridges AR Season 1 Episode 13
Create Bridges: Small Business - Big Rural Impact
Episode 13: Cuttin Up at the Barbershop
Show Notes Transcript

On this week’s episode, Brandon talks with Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur, Dylan Smith, founder and owner of Stateline Barbershop located on Main Street in Mammoth Spring Arkansas.  Years in the making, Dylan thought owning a barbershop would stay a dream. Yet, now he has been open for more than a year and business is good, despite the pandemic. 

Dylan shares what it’s like to start a business, the process to getting funding and literally building from the ground up. He discusses some of the ways he markets himself and taps into the local and tourist economies. And, just like all businesses, Dylan speaks about some of the challenges he has faced and what he would have done differently knowing what he knows now.





420 Main St.

Mammoth Spring, AR 72554

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Come join us, explore the impact of small business here in rural Arkansas.

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What challenges would you face if you opened a small business who can help you meet those challenges?

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How do you get in touch with others like you? This is Create Bridges, Arkansas.

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And we invite you to come cross these bridges with us. Hello, everyone.

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Welcome back to another episode of Arkansas Small Business, big rural impact on this week's episode.

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I had the opportunity to sit down with small business owner and entrepreneur Dylan Smith.

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Dylan is a founder and owner of State Line Barbershop, located on Main Street and Mammoth Springs, Arkansas.

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He's from the area and also serves as a firefighter. I first met Dylan almost three years ago when I moved to the area and was in need of a barber.

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Back then, owning his own barbershop was just a dream. Today he's been open for more than a year and business is good even despite the pandemic.

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Dylan shares what it's like to start your own business and the process to getting funding and literally building from the ground up.

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He discusses some of the key ways he markets himself and taps into the local and tourist economies.

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And he spoke about some of the challenges he's faced and what he would have done differently, knowing what he knows now.

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And one additional note, Dylan and I recorded this at his shop.

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And if we sound a little muffled, it's because we had our masks on. Just to be safe.

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Thanks. Enjoy. All right, Dylan, how are you, man?

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I'm doing pretty good, man. How about yourself? I'm doing great. Well, hey, thanks for joining us on the Create Bridges podcast.

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Before we get started, once you just tell us who you are, what you do, and just a little background about yourself.

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Dylan Smith, I'm the owner of Stateline Barbershop here in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas.

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I've been at this location for about 14, 15 months now.

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You never know what to expect. One day the next and a barbershop, it be the busiest day of your life.

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Or you can sit here and wonder, man, why did I open today? First few months in here.

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Sometimes you get two or three people are now. It's I mean, anywhere between eight to 14 a day.

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Never. Sometimes you get two more that you just may not should have closed up a few hours ago.

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It's stopped people coming in here, im hurting.

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And it's after hours doing the recording because you had somebody here up to about almost 530 finishing up a cut.

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So this is one of those long days for you. So let's let's dove in.

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When I met you almost three years ago to close to two and a half, three years ago, you were you were cutting hair, but you weren't.

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You didn't own your own shop. Tell me, what made you decide to open up your own barber shop?

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And did you always think that you wanted to be a barber? No, man, I.

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I've wanted to be a, be a psychologist for a while.

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You know, a mental health counselor with my mom. That's what she owns her shop doing that.

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But I had recently gotten out of the army in the National Guard.

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Still, I recently got back home and was working at Wal-Mart. And I was actually attending college.

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And I was but I didn't have college that day. And my parents said, hey, let's all just have family day.

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And a sudden didn't go to work at Wal-Mart that day and they all want to go get haircuts.

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And I've known the lady where we went. It's actually where maybe you met in that beauty salon.

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I was sitting there, she's said Dylan said, we have had a barber in Mammoth for about 20 years now.

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And said, you your hate in college, you hate working at Wal-Mart, says, what do you got to lose?

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I spent about six months just watching videos of barbers, cutting hair, doing face shaves.

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And I said, hey, that looks pretty fun inside when it's hot, inside when it's cold.

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Can't beat it. And. So about you know about a year, you're about six months goes by, not call down there to Jonesborough, went to be a barber school at.

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And found out I could enter anytime I wanted to, so I'd start a job and 

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From here to Jonesboro for 18 months. Seventy five miles.

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One way, 150 miles a day

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Go into a barber school down there and then came back and I was working in that beauty salon right there for roughly about a year.

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We started getting this shop here built. And I didn't I mean, I wish I hadn't owned mt own shop.

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It's everything's on you, but.

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One day it'll be all be mine, though, so for our listeners, you know, we have people listening that maybe want to start their own business.

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There are lots of different avenues.

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You know, you go to the bank and get a loan, you know, for fortune, enough to work a side hustle and and raise the money.

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But talk about how you were able to get started, because I think I have it correct.

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You worked with a local incubator, some. So I went to the community first bank here and there, Missouri.

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And that's where I started getting my building fund. I did a construction loan and I bought the property here and then.

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And then did all that to get everything financed where I could build this.

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But then the loan officer there told us about Osby.

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And she said, you might really want to look into this and, you know, work that avenue for you, some to get some capital going for you.

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And so caught up there got at a point man and met with them.

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And what they do is they don't.

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They can't I mean, you know, with the bank, they can't put a lean on the building or anything because the bank already has that.

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So they'll put a lean on all your equipment. So I didn't have to have anything for them.

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They just. So where you got enough equipment, you've got all your you've paid for your schooling.

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Well, we'll take all that kind of stuff. To get you your loan, and it was just I mean, it wasn't terrible to do at all.

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The big thing is you have to. They want a little bit of a feature graph of what you think you're building.

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Do. Do you have any competition with you, against you? You know, this, that and the other notes like, well, I got no competition there.

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I've been a barber in Fulton County for over 20 years and there's not one in there.

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So, I mean, I've got the beautician's a competition, but now won't taking time for the minister.

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I want to go to a barber. So I said I don't have any competition within 30 minutes of mammoth springs.

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There's not another barber. So I kind of cornered the market there and it worked for me.

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What kind of things that you have to do? You know, whether it was permitting or picking out the place.

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You talked about the financing side and working with the banks and Osby, but what else did you have to go through?

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There was a man process. You just you had to be able to vision it because there wasn't, you know, early 19 hours.

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We're talking nineteen twenty two prai not prior 19 18 because they were manufactured nails

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not hand forged but old two story doctor's office because it really was two doctor's offices,

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a house that was one of those people lived in there together.

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Rentals right beside me. We had to go and tear that down and then build new walls in here.

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Yet he had a vision and it was just.

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Build Deck says, I had to try to explain to people I'm not going to have a bunch of stairs because I got older clientele.

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They need to be walk straight in. And I feel like, oh, that won't ever work.

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Well, it has. We built a front deck to make this look more like an inviting place.

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Instead of just, well, what it was. One of my favorite things is the hot towel shave in Little Rock.

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People get their beards cut beards trend, but nobody did a hot towel shave, at least not near the barber shops I was in.

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How did you pick that? So that was one of the things I tried. I tried watching videos of haircuts.

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I watched. You know, this goes back to before I went to school.

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And I actually I go back to before I ever graduated high school.

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There's a barbershop in Hardy I went to and I walked in.

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I said, hey, do y'all do shave? And they said, no, we don't do them here. And then before I ever went after I graduated high school.

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I went to a barbershop in West Plains and I drove.

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I mean, I drove around for 45 minutes, barbershop to barbershop. I said, can get a shave, get a shave.

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And one of us said he said, man, I know me, said he used to do. He's like, there's just take take too much time.

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And I was thinking, yeah, you don't offer them at all.

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It's not that you don't offer if you're not busy. You just don't. Because he had nobody else in there and he wouldn't do it.

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And so I've started finding barbers are going away from them.

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And I said, I don't want that to go away. I love Doing it. I like the attention to detail.

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I just that's just something I like. A lot of borrowers go out. They say it takes too much time to see if you know what you're doing.

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Don't take it in time, then. Do not, you know, overly attention, detailed, high fade or something.

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I mean, heck, I could spend 30, 45 minutes cutting, you know, Steven Freeman's hair.

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And I can do a face shave in 15 minutes. And I charged the same for face shave as I do a haircut.

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People call me crazy, but it don't take me any more time to do one. I mean, I think I do probably five a week or more.

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And that's not even including head shaves. I mean, I do head shaves and facials, but we I probably do three to five face shaves a week.

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I want to pivot and talk about tourism a little bit.

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I know, for example, my family, when we travel, I typically look for somewhere that can give me a face shave or wife's gonna get a Mani Petit Kasar.

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I'll join her for that too. What have you done to tap into that tourist crowd or is that something that you look to do?

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You can't beat a pedicure man. I mean, Im on Google Maps, Apple Maps.

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And then if you search barber shops around me, I pull up on the top.

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On our search I did, but I'm in mammoth. So geographically, I couldn't tell you about that part.

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But like my sign out there, people drive through it says Hot towel Shave's right there on the sign and I get quite a few people in here.

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Word gets out. People talk about it now. I've got cards all spread out around at the restaurants still.

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So I, I tap in to like that away. I don't I'm, I don't do much on the Facebook ads and stuff I probably should especially do in the summer.

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But I did that for one. I didn't see a big return on profit for that thing.

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You know, word of mouth for barbershop is pretty good.

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And then just, you know, the free stuff on, you know, Google and all that, people look on their maps.

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So, you know, all there's a barbershop right there. How do you show people you've got the quality work that you know you can do?

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Yeah. I need to really start Buckling down and start taking more pictures of my haircuts and put them up on Facebook and keep him my page active like that.

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What future plans do you have for this space? I see there's room for another stall.

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What is there? What's kind of the future look like? Man, I would love to have another barber in here.

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I could see maybe another one on one other wall beside me. I could have one more easy.

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I mean, some are going to come in tomorrow. If they wanted to, I'd have to order the barber chair forum.

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But I've got a spot. I mean, automatically for someone. But the problem is, you know what I faced?

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I had a fight drive one hundred fifty miles a day to go to barber school in Jonesboro because you've got Jonesborough, a little rocker, Springfield.

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So that's, you know, one of the challenges I face and I know some people that they know they're in Hardy and they're like, Oh my God, Hardy.

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So, I mean, maybe one day I have someone I might have in person move into mammoth that used to be a barber and they want to be one again everyday.

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I hope someone walks into the door says, hey, you know, another Barbar here said, let me order the chair for you right now and then we'll get you going.

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Well, I think that's one of the challenges, you know, in create bridges.

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One of the things we focus on is a workforce development. And, you know, this is a prime example.

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You know, you're a business owner.

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You are the only employee right now as much as you want somebody else to be in that chair and for the business to grow in that aspect.

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There's a challenge in connecting people with, as you said, schools and then having them come back to this area.

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Yeah. Well, because. Well, when I was in school. I mean, I was dead set.

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I'm going to until about three months from graduation is like I'm going to go back to Mammoth,

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I'm going to open my own barbershop, do this, that and the other and rock on.

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And then I had a guy. He was getting his instructor license. He owned his own barbershop.

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He said, hey, what do you think about staying around here and cutting hair? And was like, I think I will.

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But in the end, I did not.

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I was like, you know, I'm going to come back to mammoth family and I don't wanna be alone down there forever.

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Tell me tell me what has been kind of some of the biggest challenges you face. You know, running a business.

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One thing is, I mean, you just got your monthly expenses the beginning of every month.

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You know, you just take that first week, week and a half pay and you just set it aside.

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It's not for you is to keep so you can have the rest of the month for your expenses that'll come up.

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You've got your insurances and sometimes that can you get told, hey, it's going to cost you this much and you're like, what?

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And then sometimes you you'll be cutting someone's hair for a long time and they'll call you the next day.

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And then that prescribe best haircut you ever gave me. And I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult, but I take as a compliment.

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Like, I don't know what you were saying before, but I'm glad you like this one.

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What sets you apart from your competitors? What do you do different that your barbers don't?

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You mentioned the hot towel, Shaves. But what what else sets you apart? I guess I thought it was a common thing, but I've had that.

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You know, the shop vac I have hooked up to my clippers. I mean, no, you know, if I don't have to break up my scissors.

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Besides me taking my little tremors or known the ears and the neck, you're not going to get a piece of hair on you, people like I.

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And, you know, that was a thing. How long is this new? And I'm sad. No vacuums have been around for decades.

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Have been around for a long time. Besides the little fine hairs around that year that my clippers didn't get that I have to take

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my tremors and get you're going to walk out of here and you can go back to work and not have to.

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Like man itch and the rest of the day. I looked at offering like facials with the facial cleansers and the lotions and stuff.

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And I even bought a steamer. But it's not tall enough, I mean, some.

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It'll be like, you know, three, four inch from your face and I'm like, I don't want to cook someone's face.

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So one of these days, I'm going to buckle down and build a better one to one and maybe even two foot stand that can roll around.

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Are there any other news services or things that you want to be able to offer?

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I think at one point, didn't you have a mobile app you could do reservations or.

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Yeah, I've thought about doing that because it is pretty it's really popular.

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And I wish I could do reservations and appointments.

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But there's just so many farmers around here, and just like I mean, I've told you, about 60 plus percent of my client tells that over the age of 60.

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And I wish I could reservations because, I mean, if I call any my friends i went to barber school was like, oh yeah,

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tomorrow I'm going to make this much money and I'm like, that's pretty nice for you to know that.

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I'll let you know how much I make tomorrow. So that's just an idea.

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You know, I know some salons get it, but I hear the old men come in here complaining that they used to have to make appointments.

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I don't know. I have some people call me, I guess I cuts some doctors and some lawyers here and they but, you know, they live on a book.

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Mm hmm and im like ill see you sometime tomorrow. But now, I mean, I just I do walk ins mostly.

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What do you think barbering is gonna look like in the next five to 10 years? And then how is it going to change that for you here?

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You know. I've heard I mean, in today's society, everything goes so fast, you know, used to hairstyles, stayed the same for 10 years.

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You had the comb over in a comb over when we used had normal straightforward hair.

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But now it's one thing to the next and the comb overs here, it's going to stay.

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I don't ever see that really going away. But then Mullet's where thing for about six months and a few of the high schools around here, I think I've.

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Yeah. I mean, so you never know.

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You know, in the 90s, highlights were a thing. And Barber, you just live day to day.

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You see everything. People just come in and find a picture and say, I want this. And I'm like, well, you don't have that kind of style of hair.

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You don't have that texture of hair. Your hair's a lot thinner and just.

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But I would do what I can. You work in a profession where you are expected to get it right 100 percent of the time.

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Can you speak a little bit to how you diffuse bad situations?

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First time I was in barber school, I had a kid and I don't think it was me as much as.

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There was a language barrier, that one, his mom. Couldn't speak English.

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And then he couldn't really tell me what he wanted for some reason. And I was still fairly new.

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So I was like kind of cutting his hair, cutting away, and he just started crying.

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Im like, what's going on? I don't understand, was doing a good job, so I kind of just go get my instructor

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I'm one from my instructor. I think I walk down. We had another barber.

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He hated Barber for 20 years. Get his instructor. I can't walk down there. And next thing I know, this kid gets up, takes it off.

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He like runs. And so they want to stick out to me.

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And then I was a. I think I just graduated Barbara school and I was cutting a.

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Another guy's hair, and he showed me a picture. Of a comb over.

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Said, I want this and this is the situation you're talking about.

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So I give him exactly like that picture, I was like, man is he's like, that's not how I comb my hair.

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And I'm like. What do you mean you showed me a picture of a comb over and you said, I want my hair like that.

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And you didn't say you comb your hair straight back. And I mean, I tried it. I combed it straight back.

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And I mean, this bright side, his head was sticking straight up like a porcupine because I cut it so short on that side for the comb over.

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And I worked on his hair forever. And finally, he I guess just me keep trying to fix it and get it right.

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He was fun. He's like, hey, it's fine. He actually did it gave me a tip. And so I'm very cautious on how much I take off of someone's hair.

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They'll say, hey, I just want a haircut and a little trim. So how about how much you want?

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I said, Oh, about that much. Or they'll say, you know, about a quarter inch or I don't know, just take a little bit off.

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So ill just take a bit off. And then I can always go back and take more off.

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But I can't put it back on. So I may work on someone's hair four or five times until they say, yeah, that's about right.

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And I'm guilty of that. Well, I've made you do that. But I mean, you say you understand.

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I'm I'm never one to just plow through and just take it all down.

00:18:44,000 --> 00:18:50,000
Right. And I think those two have kind of led me to that because, I mean, some people have been always hard,

00:18:50,000 --> 00:18:55,000
buddy, because I've been in the chair of some barber get mad because Ask him take a bit more.

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So you're not going to hurt my feelings. You're the one having to leave here.

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Walk what? You walk around with that hair. Live with what you have on your head.

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You have to. I'm not going to see you for another two weeks unless I see you out.

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I've got to ask. What is the most unusual haircut you've done?

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And then tell me what your favorite haircut is to do currently?

00:19:18,000 --> 00:19:24,000
It was probably the first time I ever did a mullet because I'd never done it in barber school.

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And so it was really just going straight out of memory. I didn't look I mean, I didn't look a picture up or anything.

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Honestly, my favorite one. Steven Freeman's haircut.

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He thinks I'm joking, I tell him that because he asked me whats your favorit haircut.

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And the reason he's my favorite is he always comes in at five o'clock or five thirty.

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Shops closed. There's no rush. He wants a perfect haircut.

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So it's so I kind of go back to where I was saying that's why I like face shape because there's so much attention to detail.

00:19:56,000 --> 00:20:04,000
What other advice would you give yourself? Knowing what you know now, I wish I had a barber shop I could've worked in, but I didn't.

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And I had to get out of the beauty salon because every time I cut some of the gentlemen's hair back, then when you get.

00:20:09,000 --> 00:20:14,000
How do you where you going to shop? Because we can you know, we're tired of smelling the perms.

00:20:14,000 --> 00:20:20,000
And I just I was really lucky that Miss Jackie didn't do acrylic nails.

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Because that I don't know what is in that stuff, but it'll hang out for six hours.

00:20:25,000 --> 00:20:29,000
Don't have such high expectations. When I first opened up, I thought I was going to get in here.

00:20:29,000 --> 00:20:32,000
Rockhound, start making three, four thousand dollars a month. All right.

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Off the bat, I had big dreams and then reality hit.

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But it's I mean, it's constantly grow and it's getting better.

00:20:42,000 --> 00:20:48,000
Well, Dylan, is there anything else that you want to share or any knowledge, anything that we've missed that you wanted to cover?

00:20:48,000 --> 00:20:52,000
Never be afraid to look for alternative sources of income.

00:20:52,000 --> 00:20:58,000
Like for me, I had a. I don't really I don't sell hair products and stuff.

00:20:58,000 --> 00:21:03,000
I do sell ammunition and stuff, though. I don't keep stock.

00:21:03,000 --> 00:21:07,000
That really makes you a target. But I do. I get.

00:21:07,000 --> 00:21:15,000
I work with two distinct different ammunition distribution companies and I have my sales tax I.D. and so what I do.

00:21:15,000 --> 00:21:19,000
Is one of them. Doesn't have any shipping fees.

00:21:19,000 --> 00:21:23,000
But the other one, though, send me emails, say, oh, we have this much.

00:21:23,000 --> 00:21:27,000
And so that's if I'm like, OK, that's a price I can move.

00:21:27,000 --> 00:21:33,000
I'll bring it in. I just automatically start calling people and I move it automatically and it just doesn't bring in a whole lot more.

00:21:33,000 --> 00:21:39,000
But every month, you know, it may. Or every other month. Take care, my water, electricity, take care, my utilities,

00:21:39,000 --> 00:21:44,000
because I was talking to my friends and you got to find something to help cover some of your bills make bit easier on you.

00:21:44,000 --> 00:21:50,000
I found that one because I don't want a. I don't want to take any kind of sales that are going to take me away from here.

00:21:50,000 --> 00:21:55,000
So I had some cause I want to look at real estate. Well, I got to leave the shop. Why don't you start doing this?

00:21:55,000 --> 00:22:00,000
Because that I'm not here. So I found stuff that.

00:22:00,000 --> 00:22:05,000
Doesn't make me go about and doesn't take a long time to do anything with.

00:22:05,000 --> 00:22:12,000
So just. Especially for slower. Find something you can do where you're at.

00:22:12,000 --> 00:22:15,000
That'll help supplement. Alright, Dylan.

00:22:15,000 --> 00:22:20,000
Well, hey, I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk with me.

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It's been great being back in the shop. I need to get in the chair again soon. But thanks so much for being on the show.

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Not a problem has been it's been an honor man.

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For more information about this or any Create Bridges podcast or more about Create Bridges, Arkansas, visit\CreateBridges.

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