Sunday, March 3, 2019

I was the first

I am a barber by trade. I went to school in 1992, got my apprenticeship out of school. Completed the 3500 hours required. I wrote my test and became licensed in May 1995. Even before I got my license I knew one day that I have my own
custom HotRod Barber Shop.

I had left the trade a few times because usually the economy had done really well and factories making $25-$30 hr were hiring and I went for the money.

That was probably one of the biggest mistakes I had made. Why? I loved barbering. I love the craft. The feeling I got when someone came into my chair, sat down, explained what they wanted, how I could help and when they left the smile on their face was priceless. The joy I got was better than any tip.

I loved every waking second of it. I looked forward to going to work. I was excited. I never dreaded Mondays, I looked forward to them.

Working in a factory for me was monotonous. Boring.  and the only reason I went was for the paycheck. I hated every second of working in factories. childish behavior. Rotating shifts, stress, noise, headaches, poor sleep.

I wish I had stayed barbering. I always thought there was a benefit to more money. There wasn't. I actually got sick working at one of those factory jobs. After I got sick I tried owning my own barbershop and trying to manage my health in secrecy. I couldn't hide my disease any longer. People slowly caught on seeing the Closed for Emergency sign up but my car in the parking lot as I hid in the bathroom floor having attack after attack. Or people would come in and see me and know right away something was wrong. Or having a line up of people as I tried not to have attacks but Id get hammered with attack after attack at work, at home, in my sleep. It never stopped. Closing my barbershop was one of the hardest things I ever had done. I sold my motorcycle and any money I had to open my shop. I was so proud. My dream, my vision, everything I worked so hard for came to fruition. I was my own boss. I have and always had very very strong work ethics. Arriving 15 min early is on time. Many times I was walking to my car when a car pulled up and I would take care of them. I never cared. It wasn't work to me, it was passion.

I had a policy, that if you didn't love it, you didn't pay. I never once had to use it as I alwasy got paid.

I had the ONLY HotRod Biker Barbershop around. Yes, it was a themed shop. Before I explain what it was Ill explain why I did it. first, I am a car guy/gear head/motorcycle lover. But before that in London there was when I opened my shop 400+ hair salons, and 15 barbershops in the city. So competition for barbershop was minimal. Salons in downtown were artsy fartsy upscale. A lot of men like myself felt inferior going to upscale salons and never felt comfortable in a feminine shop. Nothing wrong with it but not for me. Second I wanted to be better than chain salons. Generic salons, who promote deals, speed, and families. Again, not what I was aiming for. I wanted a place where guys could come and feel comfortable. HotRod and Biker magazines, classic rock for music. Toolboxes for stations and 50s retro chairs, racing slicks for a coffee table and a car seat as a couch in the customer lounge. I painted the floor with a garage floor coating. I wanted it to look industrial. I used a parts washer to hold Barbecide to clean tools/combs. I had automotive art/carguy celebrity photos autographed, a toolbox for cash register etc(see video). If any gear head would walk into an artsy fartsy upscale salon and feel uncomfortable the same hoity-toity person would feel equally uncomfortable in my shop listening to classic rock with a bunch of Harleys parked out front.

On Aug 1, 2009, I opened: Chopped and Lowered Haircutters. My dream, my vision came true. 1 year later to the day I closed. I then embarked on brain surgery. I could no longer hide my disease. it became a way to difficult to hide it. I had become unreliable to myself and knew my fait. I tried as hard as I could to work. Because working for me that way wasn't a hard job. I loved it and having it taken away hurt deeply. Probably for the next 5 years after I closed I couldn't even look at the building where my shop was because it hurt so much.

I learned so much being a business owner. And it's pretty shitty how poor customer service is nowadays because I never let anyone leave until they were 100% satisfied. I never did quick haircuts. I took the time I needed. When I had my shop barbering was coming back into the limelight with themed trendy shops. I'm glad I was the first. Some may have done better but I was the first around there who did anything like it. I still have much pride in what I accomplished. I also learned the nasty side of the business. People not paying, expecting freebies/trades and being used.

Now looking back a decade later, very sick now and Ill never work again, the best advice I can give anyone is to be happy and love what you do. Money isn't everything. Happiness is. I say to people you dont wanna sit on your porch old and gray, look back and think I hated every minute of my job/life. So do what makes you happy. The money will follow later.

I make now less than when I was 16 years old pumping gas after school. Money now means absolutely nothing to me. I hate money, I hate what it does to people. It changes people. and is the root of all evil.  If I won a million dollars tomorrow Id spend evey penny of it trying to feel better and find out why I am so sick and how to get help. The last thought on my mind is houses, cars trips. Its means nothing. Health is wealth, no exceptions. PERIOD.

If you are healthy, hate your job then what is your excuse? The excuse is that you keep telling yourself you are stuck. The make changes, find what makes you happy. And make an action plan and work towards that goal. I never had anything handed to me in life, it wasn't easy. I made mistakes and learned from them and tried to grow. Excuses are only good coming from the person saying them.'

Also, do not misunderstand that a factory job sucks. Many are very very happy with it, a good cheque, benefits, no stress and just get in an out and have weekends off. It provides a great life for many. But that is not me. Who I was or am. I needed that creativity, that control of my happiness.

Losing my ability to work, was as hard as the diagnosis of being sick. I do not choose to be at home. I was even turned down from trying to volunteer somewhere because I am unreliable. Hence why my wife and I help the homeless now at our speed and ability. Because I was told no, I found another way to make a difference.

I never want to be remembered from the relentless suffering I have every day of my life. I'd rather be remembered for what I did for others.

Here was my shop. CLICK HERE

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