Brand Masters is a new series that explores what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur in the contemporary landscape of culture. Whether you’re building a name for yourself or your label/store, these individuals have gone through the process and drop dimes.
The inaugural episode of our Brand Masters series is Justin Carr, owner of That Feeling barbershop in London. As a world-class barber who’s cut many famous athletes, a mentor, an entrepreneur, and a creative, Justin, or JustsCuts, has more than a few thoughts and tips for those looking to break into the barbering industry. Whether you’re looking to achieve creative or financial independence, he breaks down his proven formula to success below.
One of the major factors to his personal success and the success of his brand and business is Justin’s ability to be himself. Too many times, we look towards trends and clout and our competition for “inspiration” or what we should be doing.
Justin maintains that “I’m very much myself, like, at every given time, that’s one thing about me – I’m myself. I don’t try and like, copy, I don’t try to look at someone else’s stuff and try to replicate it. I look at my own stuff and I’m like, how can I make my stuff better?” Growing yourself each day leads to success.
It’s also important to keep in mind your end goal. For Justin, he chose cutting hair because he loved it and it was financially rewarding but he always knew he was a full fledged creative and that barbering would only be a stepping stone. He keeps it trill with us and says what a lot of top barbers won’t: it’s impossible to be the best barber in the world.
“I don’t want to be the best barber in the whole world, because I can’t be. Because that’s a matter of opinion. I know I’m one of the best in the world but there’s too many of us! Do you just it off clientele? Do you judge it off creativity? Do you judge it off of the haircut? Do you judge off finances? What and how do you judge the best barber in the whole entire world?”
So instead, Justin recommends that everyone just “be the best you can be, and be the best businessman, and the best creative, and put out as much as you can, you will be known for that.”
Justin’s mentality and approach to each day is his key to success. If you have a vision, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to execute it. “I believe that there is a vision in my mind that I need to get to, so I like to manifest about things and think about what I want to become or where I want to take things.”
His love for barbering, community and creativity propelled him to success. He also understands the complex history of the craft – it’s one of the oldest in the world. Knowing and experiencing how underappreciated it is in the creative industry fueled him. “Barbering was just one of them things for me that I’ve always known, and I’ve always been around. It’s a massive part of my community and I was like ‘what can I do to barbering? How can I try and put barbering on the peg?’ because barbering wasn’t respected before that.”
It’s because of his clear mentality and mission that Justin has succeeded.
Elevating an industry
Just how has JustsCuts elevated the barber industry? By being himself. Justin doesn’t lack humility – he practices what he preaches and understands that even though he is one of the best, everything is about opinion in the industry. “It’s always someone else can get it through someone else, you know what I’m saying?” That connection is what drives the entire industry, not only That Feeling and Justin Carr.
“I can’t do everything, even my team can’t do everything. So that means there’s room for other people to do what they’re doing. Everyone’s gonna eat boy!”
If one person/shop in the industry gets discovered, whether through a big partnership or through a competitor, it sets everyone down the same path to research similar people/shops in the space. That’s what pushes and elevates the barber industry as a whole.
Since barbershops are a community, everything from fashion and sneakers trickle down from barbers to customers and celebrities and vice versa. “It’s one place that you can sit next to a stranger that you don’t know and have a conversation. It’s so open and calm,” Justin explains. Barbering has “pushed the music and sneaker industry to another level 110%!,” he continues.
“This community of people that are just unraveling in front of you, we are the hub of it. We are the space that people come to for that to happen.” This is the beauty of a barbershop that has always been in its DNA and has continued to propel all industries.
Teamwork makes the dream work
While individuality can help you establish your name and clientele, it takes a team to run a barbershop and to keep the money coming in. Justin already admitted that he can’t do everything and even with a team around him, they aren’t able to cover every base. But the vibes are key. “It is a mad part of the barbershop to make sure your team is really right for you, is right for the shop, and your environment, and your clientele.”
“It’s so difficult to bring every aspect together. But the one thing I believe, and the one thing I’ll always stand on is that if I treat people that I work with, my coworkers, with respect, and we all believe in the brand, and financially you’re not just trying to use them as cash cows, and you’re actually working together as a team, you can last forever.”
As a team, everyone can get rich Justin says. Everyone can become a millionaire barber. “I believe that my team is gonna last forever, I believe that we’re all gonna have our own barbershops and we’re all gonna be millionaires, like I believe it.”
Who wants to be a millionaire?
The path to 7 digits isn’t easy but it is achievable with the right business plan. The key is to have your money make you more money.
With the income from a single shop, you have to invest that into other businesses. Justin says whether it’s a clothing label, YouTube, deals or flipping properties, you have to grow your steady income stream with additional income streams. Opening up multiple shops can also help you achieve millionaire dreams along with charging extremely expensive prices.
It all comes down to how well you play the game. “There’s ways to make money in the barber thing. You can definitely be a millionaire off one barbershop because if you invest right, if you take money in, or even on your own as one barber, you can do it. If you’ve got good income coming in and know where to put your money in, and how to work with it, you’ll be good.”
With great power (and financial backing) comes great responsibility right? Absolutely. “I feel like, as barbers in general, we have a huge influence on our clientele.”
Barbers are on the forefront of fashion, music, trends and culture – tastemakers. Whether it’s a one-time customer or loyal customer of decades, everyone in the chair pays attention to the vibes of the shop and what’s on feet and more. “You come in, clients will notice something small, like a new gown. So if they’re noticing you got new gowns, what else do you think they’re noticing?”
Once again, individuality grows a brand because of its vast influence, whether or not you even realize it. Before you know it, you’ll be famous.
Words for first time barbers
Simply put, like any industry out there, you have to put in the work to reap the rewards – more so in this industry than others.
Barbering isn’t something you can half ass. It’s not a side chick, this has got to be your main girl. “You have to put in time and effort if you want to be a barber. If you don’t want to be a barber, there’s other jobs that you don’t have to put as much time or effort into.”
Keep up with Justin Carr and That Feeling with their social media accounts below.
This series was made possible by Squire, the premier barbershop POS software. To learn more, hit up getsquire.com.
If you’re a first time barber or even someone established, look out for more episodes of Brand Masters each week.
Written by Matt Peng
Interview conducted by Curvel Baptiste
Transcription by Olivia Hawkins
Produced by Madeline Carpentiere
Photos via Justin Carr/That Feeling