HOW DID CUTS & CREPS GET OFF THE GROUND?
It was our 1st year anniversary in July and before that it took me about a year to get my business plan together. I started out in hairdressing and trained at Toni & Guy – all in all I’ve been cutting hair for 11 years. I worked at Toni & Guy for five years then moved to Bristol, became self-employed and grew a steady client base. My goal was always to have my own place.
SO HOW DID THE SNEAKERS THING START?
I was always the hair guy amongst my friends, then for some reason I became the shoe guy too. Before a night out, friends would ask: ‘Can you cut my hair?’ then when I got into sneakers it became, ‘can you clean / customise my shoes?’ I thought: ‘Why am I not making this into a business?’
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN A SNEAKER FAN?
My love of shoes has always been there, my Dad really liked shoes and was always dressed pretty cool. It wasn’t until I started customising shoes that it really took off I guess.
I bought some Yeezy’s and I saw this guy on Instagram dipping his into dye. I was seriously inspired. I felt like I knew what I was doing, but I guess I winged it! It’s all about faking it until you make it, right? I moved to a new house in the summer and realised how many I have! I have about 25-30 pairs, I think. I’m a hoarder, but I love them.
YOU MUST BE PRETTY UNIQUE IN THE AREA?
There’s a lot of barbershops in Bristol, but I know that to survive we had to stand out. There’s no other barbershop like us in the area. We’re based in Stokes Croft – it’s basically Bristol’s Shoreditch! This whole place is covered in graffiti, but weirdly my shop has stayed white.
Having the shoe aspect means it’s really eye catching from the street – you can see our staff cleaning shoes from the window and the sneakers are displayed too. We get people of all ages and all cultures walking in to have a look.
“THERE’S A LOT OF BARBERSHOPS IN BRISTOL, BUT I KNOW THAT TO SURVIVE WE HAD TO STAND OUT. THERE’S NO OTHER BARBERSHOPS LIKE US IN THE A REA”
Our ‘sneaker laundry’ is all done by hand. We also sell shoes in the barbershop. I have a steady supply of stock and we also offer a scheme called consignment. People can bring their shoes into store for us to sell – we do it at a cheaper rate than eBay or anyone like that.
I always thought Cuts & Creps would be more of a concept than a reality, but it’s really taken off. People genuinely do bring their sneakers in with them when they get their hair cut. But it you’re going to do clean sneakers properly it takes at least two days, so people will drop off their creps when they come in for a cut and pick them back up a couple of days later.
HOW WAS LOCKDOWN FOR YOU?
The shoe business actually kept us ticking over during quarantine when we couldn’t cut hair. We also started a campaign called the ‘NHS Crep Collection’ where we got people to donate their shoes, we cleaned them up and then we sold them and donated the money. We’ve raised £600 (so far) I wanted to do my bit during the pandemic and also, it’s great for the brand too as I could build a social media campaign around it.
The business is really doing well all things considered – we hired a new member of staff and I’m actually debating whether to take the shop next to me as we’ve exceeded expectations in this first year. But I’ve seen barbershops do well and then they’ve opened a second shop in a different area, it’s not gone so well. However this property is next door and we aim to expand into it. As we’re getting more clients, I want to keep the spacious feel we’ve got going on. I don’t want to cram more clients in, we need to have room. As everyone has learnt during the pandemic it’s all about adapting and evolving.