I have been a fangirl of Virile since day 1. Their style and branding was something I was personally drawn towards with their classic, old school vibe. I was excited to see this fresh take on where barber shops currently were in the industry and create a unique experience for their guest. They have always been a huge cheerleader of mine and I'm happy to do the same for them. There's power in numbers! Everyone in that shop is extremely talented and their work is consistent, a true testament to Andre's leadership. My boyfriend is also a very loyal guest and I love that. According to my boyfriend it's because I yell at him when I cut his hair and though part of that may be true, I can't compete with Andre - his cuts are killer.
What's your name and what do you do?
Andre Fersa - I do men's hair
What does being a boss mean?
Managing personalities which is one thing I overlooked - one day I was an employee and a week later I was an owner. In the beginning managing one employee was easy but as the team grows you realize what works for one doesn't work on the other. You are constantly learning which buttons to press to motivate and how they differ with each individual. I don't like the word boss, it comes from a sense of authority - I want to be a mentor, that's something you should acknowledge and essentially seek out. You want to keep the ship sailing and they all understand that at the end of the day I have their best interests in mind. I just don't want to be a bad boss. I want my team to say, "He made me a better person. He helped my career."
What are you thankful for personally and professionally?
I am thankful for having a good mentor in Adam(founding owner of Virile). He gave me the opportunity to grow. He saw in me the potential I always had. I also acknowledge I come from a home where it's constant work, work, work and you take responsibility for yourself. I also believe you make your own luck - it's a reflection of how hard you work. I am personally thankful for my family. My mom is overly supportive of me and both my parents are very grounded. I'm thankful my family lives very close, it gives me the opportunity to grab coffee with my cousin and talk shop, she owns a bakery in Rutherford. I'm also thankful for my dog Chunk.
What are the struggles of being a business owner?
Time management! This is my life and I'm defined by what I do, but it's still important to have a social life and be your own person. I don't know what I would do otherwise.
What are the benefits of being a business owner?
That it's yours - it's something you can look back on and be proud of. The impact you see on a neighborhood because of your business is incredible. You are literally your teams caretaker, you are the reason they have career opportunity. When it's busy it feels good and when it's slow it feels like you're letting them down. But we are all in it together and being head of all that motivation is amazing. But it's also great not being the head of everyone because everyone takes the reins for the betterment of the shop and that makes me proud. Pride. This gives me so much confidence and validates my hard work.
How do you define success?
It use to be strictly about my bottom line and that is the most unhealthy way to look at it. By necessity I stopped looking at it that way and started to focus on how busy the shop was and how everyone's experience was; it's a reflection of the vibe and atmosphere. If my team is happy then I did something right, if they aren't then I did something wrong.
How do you keep balance?
That's something I'm not good at. I binge and some weeks go by where I am constantly grinding and there are others where I'm going out every weekend. I surround myself with people that are better than me; where I lack in something I try to surround myself with someone who excels. It's inspiring.
What advice do you have for hopeful business owners?
Don't be afraid to learn from your employees, it's ok to not know everything. In reality I've learned more from working with my team than anyone else. I used to need to have all the answers and strove for perfection. Once you put that facade down, it's humbling. If I don't know something I'll look into it instead of bullshitting. If you acknowledge the fact that you're not good at everything, that's the first step.
Our coffee chat at Choc-O-Pain was full of laughter and inspiration. We talked about what it was like coming from families who were also in the industry and how we both found our drive. I'm happy to call Andre a friend and advocate for me and my small business. His constant hustle and strive to be better than he was yesterday gives me life. He is a truly genuine and humble human being and runs his business with honesty, respect and pride.