Beating the odds: How a barber went from cutting hair on a stoep to opening his 50th shop
- Legends Barbershop recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and opened its 50th store, but reaching this point was no easy journey.
- There were times Sheldon Tatchell didn't know how he would move forward and never imagined the barbershop would be this successful.
- He started cutting hair on a stoep as a temporary gig and moved into a tiny shop a few months later.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Getting a haircut is not a mundane treatment at Legends Barbershop, says its owner Sheldon Tatchell.
"How you make them look is one thing, how you make them feel is another," says Tatchell, who opened his 50th store in August.
He started his business on the stoep of his cousin's internet café 10 years ago and couldn't understand why people would queue to have their hair cut by him while there were two barbershops right across from where he conducted his business.
Tatchell discovered his secret was connecting with his customers.
He had a notebook where he wrote the conversations he had with his customers, so that the next time they came for a haircut he went back to his notebook and followed up on the interview the customer had, or the new car they bought.
Now his staff take notes on their cellphones.
It took him only four months to open his shop and move from the stoep.
But the joy of having his own premises was short-lived when his business was "run to the ground" by a friend he appointed as a business partner.
Tatchell left the running of the barbershop to his business partner when he went on honeymoon.
He returned to find his shop closed and the business partner avoiding his calls.
Tatchell calls this the lowest point in his career. He thought this was the end of his career as a businessman and being a barber, but he had already built a string of customers. He would go as far as 40km by scooter to cut their hair.
This continued for the next two to three years until 2014 when he quit his day job and relaunched his store.
His goal then was to open five stores in five years.
"I didn't know how I was going to do it," he said.
But again, his big dreams were crushed when he was left with one barber.
Tatchell's staff started stealing from him and the business, he had to let them go, he said.
He had to find people with the right mentality and train them.
Legends Barbershop now opens training centres in the communities he has shops in before he opens a barbershop, and employs people from those areas.
At 32, he has created over 420 jobs.
His growing empire has footprints in eight provinces and two African countries, Botswana and Lesotho.
He won the best male grooming award in Africa, and he plans on opening more stores on the continent.
Legends also have women cutting hair, and they are "really good", Tatchell boasts.
Tatchell reviewed his "five stores in five years" plan and now sees 200 Legends Barbershops by 2025.
He ensures that shops give back to the community they operate in and, he still goes back to Eldorado Park - his hometown - to pay back.
It was from doing their bit of social responsibility that the name 'Legends' was born.
From his first tiny shop in Eldorado Park, Tatchell and his team would make their way to the old age home every second week to cut the senior citizens' hair there.
At this point, the barbershop didn't have a name. While cutting hair at the old age home, Tatchell realised that he was cutting the hair of legends in the community and decided to name his barbershop after them - Legends.
The male grooming shop has attracted its fair share of local celebrities, from soccer players to DJs and hip-hop stars.
But it doesn't stop there, ASAP Bari, Usher and Dj Supernova also got their grooming done at Legends Barbershop.
Going through the slumber of lockdown didn't stop Tatchell from growing his business.
While he had to make arrangements with landlords for rent and find ways to pay his staff during the hard lockdown, Tatchell was already looking beyond the hurdle.
He moved from having 17 stores during lockdown to opening the 50th Legends Barbershop on 6 August.
The secret to his success?
Tatchell says his business shouldn't die with him.
"Your business should outgrow you."
He says nobody knows the owner of Wimpy or McDonald's, but everybody knows the fast-food chains.
He says he always puts himself aside and focuses on the business.
Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.
Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.