Peter Cupido became a barber as a hobby, doing it from his parent’s backyard. Today, he has grown a business and has sound advice for other small business owners.
Stellenbosch, South Africa – When Peter Cupido from Ida’s Valley, Stellenbosch swopped his technical assistant job to open his barbershop, he started a community whereby men gather for quality time and a close shave.
“I opened my business ‘Peter’s Barber Shop’ in 2017, but I have been trading for eight years. My interest in barbering started in 2005 when I ran a business from my parents’ backyard to earn some extra money. I obtained an official barbering trade certificate in 2016 and from there I knew that barbering has shifted from being a hobby to becoming a fully-fledged business. Now I employ two full-time barbers and one part-time assistant.”
Peter’s patrons are mostly between the ages of 21 and 35, and he says barber shops have seen a revival over the past view years, representing both nostalgia and masculinity.
“Men care more about their appearance these days, buying into the notion that if you ‘look good, you feel good’. The modern hairstyles and trends have men flocking to Barber Shops in droves. Unisex hair salons that was once all the rage, were only geared towards efficiency and speed whereas the current barber shops are more concerned about giving quality haircuts and pampering their clients. Barber shops are tangible and personal – you can’t get a haircut online!”
Peter is one of 32 small business owners in the areas of Khayelitsha, Langa, Mitchell’s Plain, Stellenbosch and Gugulethu selected to take part in the sponsored Small Business Academy (SBA) development programme offered by the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).
With its sponsors Distell and Absa, the SBA provides a platform for small business owners to gain business, financial and operational knowledge over nine months to grow and strengthen their businesses. The SBA creates networking opportunities and offers a mentorship programme whereby each participant is matched with a USB alumnus.
“My growth has been organic with word of mouth my strongest marketing tool. My selection to the SBA programme has changed my perspective on a number of topics. I have gained knowledge on how to structure the financial side of my business better which has given me insight into what is really going on in my business.”
Peter’s Barber Shop is sleek with a vintage yet classic look. Strategically located near a busy intersection, he has the opportunity to turn walk-in clients into regular customers.
He says that his business is still growing, which means he very much has to do most of the “heavy lifting”.
“I have to train my staff on customer service, how to gently handle tools, and how to work with delicacy and skill around the client. Having to wear all the hats yourself can be daunting. My biggest challenge to date is cash flow management, hiring of employees and time management. But knowledge is power and I’m positive for the future.”
His advice for start-ups is to “surround yourself with people who are experts in their field to gain a better insight. My business is not just about barbering – it consists of Human Resources, Marketing, Financial Planning and Market Research – I really can’t be an expert of all these, so it’s vital to speak to the masters. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your vision. Passion will drive you forward.”
Peter’s vision is to have a training centre where young unemployed youth can learn the art of being a professional barber in addition to expanding his business to further centres in the Western Cape.