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.
This week we head across the pond for our weekly Brand Masters series to chop it up with barber, creative and educator Leah Hayden Cassidy. Based out of London, Hayden is not only a barber and owner of Unit8 by HAYDEN, and an ambassador for Andis, but she’s her own boss and runs a creative studio out of her barbershop. Travelling and meeting people around the world really gave her direction when it came time to open her studio and she shares lessons on never limiting your own creative vision and how to speak a language of authenticity.
Why a studio?
Barbershops are literally the center of culture anywhere in the world – that’s the beautiful connecting thread between them all. And instead of opening just a traditional barbershop, Hayden opted to go the route of a creative studio. As a global citizen that’s travelled throughout Europe and the US, she attributes to seeing the studio idea throughout her travels in the states and wanting to take it back to the UK, where it wasn’t prevalent.
Her reasoning for opening a studio was to stay true to herself – she’s more than just a barber. She’s also a stylist, skateboarder, photographer, etc.
“I’m not gonna have a product line unless I use it and I think it’s necessary, you know? I’m not gonna just have 10 products because it looks big and it’s this idea, I have three products in my product line, all that work, all that I use, and I never need to use any other product.”
This unique approach towards openly channeling all her creative energy into one space is what makes Hayden’s brand so successful. Staying true to everything she has a passion for – whether it’s the haircutting or apparel designing or visual art creation – and keeping an authentic voice with clients and potential leads is the key to success.
And as tough as it is to swallow for some, it’s OK to turn down brand collaborations and sponsorships. You don’t have to please everyone but you do have to stay true to your story and voice.
Another piece of advice from Hayden is don’t try to take over the world overnight. You should start small in order to feel out your customer base and get your name out there. Maybe do an apparel batch of 20-30 before you go into the hundreds. If people f*ck with you, they f*ck with you and you never have to get outside of yourself.
This final piece on branding is probably the most important – you have to use your own product if you want others to trust in it. And you don’t have to create handfuls of different ones, just a few super effective ones that cover your needs.
So for someone who knows herself and her brand extremely well, how does Hayden weigh collaborations and what does she look for? The answer is quite simple: vibes.
“I’m big into just so many elements, and I think you should never be limited by just thinking you can just be barber behind a chair, you know?”
You can’t fake energy and that spark from chatting someone up in the chair. So never take any of those moments for granted.
The UK experienced multiple waves of lockdowns during the height of the pandemic and as we all know, mental health for everyone around the world was at an all time high in terms of stress. How did Hayden deal with keeping her mental health in check? She found running.
First time barber advice
For those looking to break into the industry, Hayden, an educator herself, shared with us her favorite tools and products.
If you’re looking for must-have tools to start your barbering career, check out our starter guide.
So remember to always let your creative energy flow as a entrepreneur and business owner and to try things in small increments, thus allowing yourself to always stay authentic.
To keep up with Hayden Cassidy, check out the social media accounts below and show some love!
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 Hayden Cassidy