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’re north of the border in Canada with one of our previous Barbershop of the Month features, Glassbox Barbershop. Co-owner and director Peter Gosling sat down to chat with us on exactly what it takes to run not only multiple locations in Toronto, Ontario, but also why education is so key and how they’ve put employees first by taking away unnecessary stress. In business for 6 years and with 5 locations, we think Peter and his business partner, Andrew LaGrave, have things on lock (no pandemic pun intended).
What can small business do for you?
Although Peter manages 5 locations under the Glassbox brand umbrella, he still sees himself as a small business owner, and thus, acts like it. Community, as Chico Boom and Jay Majors said, is a major key to success. Even during the pandemic, Glassbox was able to take care of their community with hundreds of haircuts. They also generated money for a mental health charity through merch, which stays true to their lifestyle brand DNA.
Glassbox’s brand identity not only includes the community, it starts from within, with every employee. Peter stresses the importance of keeping all his staff members stress-free and happy with benefits, good wages and inclusivity, something that Nicole Angelice talked to us about earlier in this series (you may recall Nicole works at Glassbox too).
When it comes to his employees, a huge part of the brand, Peter is all about investing in the right people. Bringing in the right people with the right attitude sets the entire mood of the shops and trickles down into the customer experience. Happier staff also means less turnover and more capital to reinvest into the business.
The positive attitude and “right” attitude that Peter looks for is one that is oozing in passion, hard work and competitiveness. He’s willing to do whatever it takes, even as the boss, in order to make the business run smoother and life easier for his employees.
“You can be humble and competitive.”
Peter loves to use corporations like McDonald’s in his examples and he compares employee happiness with another example of success from Mickey D’s.
Financial literacy and education
We just can’t say it enough, part of the winning attitude as an entrepreneur is minimizing employee stress. A huge piece of that has to do with finances, something Anthony Giannotti talked a ton about. As an educator, Peter is constantly teaching his staff, mostly the younger generation, how to save and be smart with money.
Stunting is ok if you can afford it, but you also want to invest in long-term happiness. You don’t want to burnout in the barber industry and fail to make money. Sadly, this is something that school just doesn’t teach.
It should also be common sense, but spending that stimmy on brand new shoes instead of saving it for something like rent, is well, stupid.
“I think sometimes if you look at some of the people that I look to and have found as mentors, whether they’d been someone famous or not, I think that they’re still the same people who are willing to do the dishes and clean the toilet because they know it has to get done.”
A lot of these lessons Peter learned the hard way and he hopes that his mistakes don’t have to happen to others. Like many, he took the downtime COVID forced upon everyone and used it to learn and evolve. He also looked back on his number one mistake: not thanking people. He elaborates on how much a simple gesture, especially to employees, can make the workplace easier to manage and more welcoming.
Peter mentioned Glassbox’s own hair care line, Ceremony Supply, in the previous quote. Like he said, sometimes it takes a pandemic to further examine how to make a product better through a relaunch. Not only did the downtime during COVID benefit Ceremony Supply, it’s also given Glassbox time to play with other potential merch releases that fall in line with their love for skateboard culture and lifestyle.
For those looking to become business owners and entrepreneurs, whether in the barber industry or not, Peter has a key piece of advice – “be prepared to get on your hands and knees and do the shitty work as much as you want to do the glorified, fun and creative shit.” This also goes back to the correct attitude to have in the shop and to putting employees first. You have to lead by example and just because you make it, doesn’t mean you can walk around like a big shot.
Peter is someone who really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to branding a business and succeeding in a short amount of time. So for those looking to start or hire, make sure you keep your employees happy and lead by example.
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 Peter Gosling/Glassbox Barbershop/Renata Kaveh/Christopher Katsarov