We were lucky to catch up with Nate Lastinger recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Nate, thanks for joining us today. So let’s jump to your mission – what’s the backstory behind how you developed the mission that drives your brand?
So the story behind my mission is kind of a long story that I’ll shorten up in a couple sentences. I went to Paul Mitchell The School Tampa a couple years ago based off of the suggestion of someone I was in a relationship with at the time.. Once I decided to go to hair school, I knew at that point that I wanted to open a barbershop within a couple years and help continue to change the industry for barbershops to be more upscale as well as have more of an edgy vibe to it. I believe that there’s not enough barbershops that has originality attached to it. They’re all very basic shops with basic flooring basic walls very standard barber chairs and very standard methods of the service from start to finish. (At least from what I’ve seen as a common trend) So to me, it was my mission personally to change that standard to be a higher quality.
Nate, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
So, I guess this was kind of answered a little bit in the previous question, but to go a little bit more into detail, I am a business owner of Broken Compass Barber Co. out of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Florida area. I specialize specifically in barbering, but I am dual licensed for working with color and long cuts. Based off of the rarified question, I feel like it’s a pretty 50-50 percent when it comes to Barbers specifically with their craft. 50% are all for learning even after hair school. They wanna do better they want to show clients a great experience and see personal growth in themselves as a person and as an artist in hair. The other 50% use this industry as quick money and just a job. Which is totally fine if that’s your prerogative. But for me personally it was all about the craft, the experience, and the dynamic of what a barbershop truly means to men and women these days. Taking the time to look at a head of a person as a canvas of art and figuring out different ways to make a hairstyle work for them specifically versus just giving them a basic cut that might not work for their hair texture, head size, and things like that sort. I personally have five star reviews on things NOT because I am the best barber out there(there are far better and more experienced out there), but because I take the time to talk with the clients and really get to know what they want. What they most feel self-conscious about with their hair and how to change it. Most of the time especially guys, are self-conscious with cowlicks and less density of hair in certain areas. So it’s my job as the barber to make them feel comfortable with what they have and figure out how to enhance their look. I believe clients see the passion that myself, as well as, other barbers have in that same mindset as truly caring for their way of life. And it’s also about just taking an initiative to know them personally. I feel like those things speak huge volume, which is why I’m blessed to have returning clients, 5 star reviews and be where I’m at today. You see these clients once a week, every other week, once a month, etc. It’s your job as their service provider to become friends with them and care about more than just getting them into the chair cutting their hair and having them leave after 30 minutes and just take their money. You can go to any hair cutting spot place and get a haircut, but what individuals are going towards nowadays is quality and experience. A shampoo service after the haircut to get all the hair off of their neck, Putting a hot towel over the face for a relaxing time along with it, styling of their hair, or even offer an alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverage. There’s so many different ways you can make their time worth it just as much as your time worth it with them. You’re only going to succeed so far as what you put into the experience. I’ve been out of hair school for two years now, and within a year and a half I was building out my own barber shop with a full book of clientele. That is not always the easiest thing to do and extremely scary, but it can be done if the value is worth it to your clients that they want to follow you to wherever you go and are willing to drive the distance for it.
How’d you meet your business partner?
So while I own the entirety of my barbershop, I collab with one of my close friends with a business he owns entirely as well, which is a tattoo fitness apparel company called Iron and Ink Fitness. He and I both are into fitness and tattoos, so it only made sense for us to collaborate by building a shop that had both apparel store and a barber shop on the other side.. When we thought of this idea we had a bigger scale to open a warehouse with not only the apparel and barber shop, but adding different things that would revolve around the quality of peoples look and feel. Which is still coming to fruition with a warehouse that will be built in a few years from now. It’s hard for me to go into that fully because there’s a lot of stuff that we can’t really talk about at this exact moment until it becomes more secure. But what I can say is he and I met based off of social media and his brand. After we became friends, we realized we wanted the same thing which was to give value and an experience to people that they never had. What better way than to add apparel that people feel good in, look good in, and getting a haircut within the same building? Leaving confident and secure in themselves.
Do you have any insights you can share related to maintaining high team morale?
Wow this is actually an amazing question because I believe this is another issue that arises not only in my industry but other industries with owners and how they run their business. We are all adults working. The only difference between me as an owner and someone else as an employee is in the end I have to be the one to answer the questions that aren’t always the easiest to answer or take the fall for things because in the end it’s my reputation on the line. Not only that, it is also my family, every one working for me and their families that rely on the shop to succeed. I’d be doing a disservice by not making sure morale is as high as I can possibly make it. What I think owners usually have issues with is they start to forget that the people who are making them money, and making their business successful lose morale once the owner starts to expect that they (employees) should be appreciative of working at that certain spot or making them feel like they are lower than themselves (owner). If that makes sense at all? Basically I take the mindset that I want the barbers to be making most of the money. I’m not a greedy person, they are the ones that are doing the service, they should be getting the higher percentage of commission. Along with that I feel like burning them throughout the week to work more and more and more only kills their spirit. So the best way that I see to keep morale up is always be engaging in a fun activity that you can do with your employees. Don’t make it on a day that they already have off, where they have to spend their free day with the people they work with 40 hours a week already. Take a day from your work week with all of them where you can do a fun activity with them so that way they want to come to work. It’s really that simple. Keep a fun environment for them make them feel appreciative and do the right thing by paying them what they’re worth. Along with (and this is a big one) KEEP AN OPEN DOOR POLICY! It’s the most cliche thing owners like to say to their employees, yet when an employee comes to the owner about anything, i.e. issues with another employee, issues with personal life effecting work life, or even an issue they have with you as the owner, they employee gets either generic responses, argument rebuttal responses, or my personal favorite.. an “I’m not going to do anything, but I will act like I am hearing and understanding you.” Response
…Be receptive. Be attentive. Be willing to help change their narrative of whatever the issue may be, before it becomes a problem that effects the entire shop. You’re shop is only as good as you are as the owner. It is that simple.