Born Urban Barbers G
iving customers a great environment, service and product is the cornerstone of running any successful business; let alone successful barbershop. Charlie Gee, a 23-year-old barber and owner of Born Urban Barbers delivers just this. Owning and operating a high-end men’s salon at such a young age is a mark of Charlie’s skill, grit, and business sense. Charlie began his fledgling career attending the London School of Barbering, before getting the opportunity to work alongside Greg Mccerlane, Laurence Fo and Reuban Joesph in Milton Keynes. The group helped Charlie cut his teeth in the industry and, he said, he owed a lot to as mentors. But, after working 10-11 hour days, commuting and cutting his friend’s hair at home, it all began to take a toll, despite giving Charlie a great foundation and work ethic. Charlie describes to BarberNV the duel excitement and anxiety of opening Born Urban. He said: “It was scary! As soon as the lease was signed it all felt very real, very quickly. Being only 21-years-old and in a position that if all goes pear-shaped, it could financially ruin you is daunting. But, deep down I knew if I could just get people through the door they would keep coming back every time. I was willing to do anything it took to make it work. Nothing could deter me.” Born Urban Barber is the ultimate culmination of Charlie’s hard work and currently houses seven full-time barbers. “I honestly believe that we have some of the most talented barbers in the industry,” Charlie told BarberNV. “The next step is to take Born Urban to new towns and cities; allowing our top barbers to build the brand further afield.” The biggest goal of Charlie’s career now is to open as many doors for his staff as he can - all by taking the passion he has woven deeply into Born Urban to as many locations as possible. The shop itself is a perfect reflection of Charlie’s vision; crisp white walls are accented with bare brickwork, uniform chairs, and airy full-length windows creating a light and luxurious space for men. The aim of Born Urban was to create a modern salon for men; something Northampton sorely lacked. But, take one look at Born Urban’s Instagram account and you can see the care in which Charlie curates his space. Many of you reading will understand the potential perils and pitfalls of opening your own barbershop. Perhaps not at such a young age, but again this is a glowing endorsement of Charlie’s business acumen. Charlie told us: “It’s a lot more work than I ever thought it would be, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Being 23-years-old and running a business isn’t without sacrifice however, and sometimes missing out on things is necessary and inevitable due to work commitments. But, loving what you do is really important, that way, ‘missing out’ doesn’t really feel like missing out.
“I think It’s too early to say exactly what I’d do differently, I’m sure if you ask me again in two years I’ll be able to tell you. But the thing I would say is you really need to master your craft before going it alone and even then keep learning. When I first opened I was really put through my paces. Being the only one in the room it felt like a lot more weight on my shoulders. This was a learning curve in itself. Since then I decided to never stop learning.” Charlie also told us none of the success would have been possible without his mum and girlfriend. “My biggest obstacle is probably learning to switch off from work mode. I love it so much it really doesn’t feel like work, but downtime is needed, apparently,” He said. “Luckily, I have my mum and girlfriend to remind me to take some time out and recharge every now and then. Keeping a work-life balance is really important and it’s something I’m starting to make sure I get the hang of. It’s amazing what a few days off can do.” And finally, to any young barber looking to open their own business, Charlie has some parting words of wisdom. He said: “Get into a good shop and work your socks off. Find a barbershop you can really connect with. If that shop opens doors for your career then you’re onto a winner. I predict we’re about to see some super brands emerge from the male grooming industry. So finding the right place to work, learn and hopefully progress through the business is essential. “If you feel like you’ve outgrown your workplace, and want to go alone, be prepared for a lot of work, little sleep and an emotional rollercoaster. But, if you work hard enough and truly believe in yourself it’ll all be worth it. The barbering and male grooming industry is a great place to work at the moment, and I can’t see it slowing down. Young people are the future, and it’s up to us to keep this industry moving forward. I hope you have found some of this useful and good luck!”
BarberNV Magazine | 45