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.
As we learned last week from Chico Boom, the mindset of a barber, and entrepreneur, needs to always be positive. This week, our guest is Nicole Angelice from just north of the border over in Toronto, Canada. As a stylist and barber at Glassbox Barbershop, she’s learned the importance of inclusivity — keeping everyone that walks in through the door feeling safe, fresh and most importantly, like themselves. If you have clients that feel safe and free, they eventually become your friends and that further expands not only your clientele, but also your creative network — like Willis the Barber said.
Similar to how Hayden Cassidy decided to open up a studio in the UK instead of a straight up barbershop, the Glassbox Barbershop brand is exactly the same. In order to fully utilize the creative energy of everyone that walks through its doors, Glassbox has transitioned into a lifestyle brand and a lot of that is because of how inclusive they are and their passion for excellence in everything they do.
While these vibes are something every shop should have, the truth is, not everyone does. That’s why it’s key to work on things like that as a team. Additionally, personally branding is very critical in a shop environment. Nicole stands out as someone known not only for her fire fits, but even more more for her impeccable hygiene. Listen below.
As someone who curates the entire experience of being in a barbershop for the customer, Nicole also stresses that it’s extremely important to dress the part — whether or not it’s just running errands or if you have an empty chair that day. Like I said, she’s always fresh.
“It’s very inclusive. I have a lot of gay clients and number one thing they tell me is, ‘I can come here because I feel like I can be me, and I feel like I’m not feeling judged or I feel like it’s a very open and welcoming space for everyone.'”
It’s also important not to let personal accolades run your life and give you a big head. Nicole won Manology’s Best Female Barber of 2018 and she did so by just being herself — like all her customers.
The fact that Nicole won using scissors also shows how dependent barbers are on their tools — specifically clippers.
So how did Nicole become so good with scissors as her preferred tool and method of cutting hair? She actually made a transition from being a hairdresser to a barber, showing everyone that sometimes thinking outside the box will give you an advantage you didn’t initially think of.
Below she runs through the differences of a salon vs. a barbershop and what she learned from being in a salon full of women to a more male-dominated space.
“I bring a toothbrush to work. I brush my teeth at work. I’m serious. Like this is, these are little details like you know when your breath smells good, you feel good. You smell good. You feel good? You look good. It’s what people are paying you for.”
If you create a personal brand that is likeable and trustworthy (punctuality and appearance matter a lot), then it’ll survive. Even amidst the pandemic, Nicole was able to reach her clients and attend to their needs with in-calls. So her biggest challenge wasn’t being rusty but adjusting to new environments constantly.
Being forced to adapt to the environment wasn’t all bad though. A great entrepreneur knows how to adapt to any changes and overcome obstacles with quick thinking. Nicole acknowledges that even a boss has to start at the bottom again occasionally. Here’s an example of how she turned a shitty situation around into a positive gain.
“All you gotta do is be, be nice to people. It’s like the key, just be nice to people, Work hard and save, save, save.”
Advice for the people
In addition to be willing to outwork everyone, offering perfect customer service and presenting yourself in the best manner possible, Nicole says being able to stay focused is a key to success. Trust in your process and ignore the other nonsense. Along the way, do as Anthony Giannotti would and save all you can.
Finally, Nicole also teaches educational programs through Glassbox. Services include beginner and advanced courses as well as online learning. You can find all the social links below. Shoutout to a real lady boss for dropping some knowledge.
This series was made possible by Squire, the premier barbershop POS software. To learn more, hit up getsquire.com.
Written by Matt Peng
Interview conducted by Curvel Baptiste
Transcription by Olivia Hawkins
Produced by Madeline Carpentiere
Photos via Nicole Angelice