You know when you meet someone special. It was the case when I met Ian in London a Monday afternoon in front of Champs Barber. The Sunday before, I had noticed a cool crew in front of the store. You know it is a cool crew when everybody is dressed in Supreme, one guy is documenting everything on camera and another one on video camera. So on Monday I decided to check out the store attracting so much attention from everyone. This is how I got talking to Ian.
Talking to Ian was an emotional rollercoaster. I went from being surprised by the encounter, to engaged as we talked about the thenegotiationroom.com mission, to inspired by the similarities of our journeys. We had to collaborate.
Ian, a dad of four, born in the U.K. and of Colombian decent is more than the finest barber in the U.K. Sure, 20+ years experience, a loyal following, celebrity clients, pop up events and collaboration with fashion labels are outstanding achievement. But Ian is first a passionate entrepreneur, with unconditional belief in his projects. As he loves to say “there is no way to be half pregnant”. When he decided to open Champs Barber, a barbershop in the West End was a first. Ian faced multiple obstacles:
- Non believers – People were quick to tell him all the reasons why a barber shop in Central London would not work. Other barbers, friends and family were trying to stop him. I am sure that most had good intentions, that stopping him, was their way to safeguard him from what they thought would be a certain failure.
- Leasing the store – Convincing the landlord to lease him the place was not easy. This is a prime location, in a hip Central London neighborhood. All around it, you can find art galeries, specialty coffee shops and trendy restaurants. Ian made his pitch to the landlords in a fancy West End office building. There was a bit of surprise in the landlord office, as he was not the typical tenant. To secure the deal, he was asked three references. Moreover, they had to be from doctors, judges, lawyers, or similar. Ian gave the landlord five references, to be on the safe side. Luckily his loyal customers were from all fields of work and happy to help.
- Fitting in the neighborhood – Fitzrovia never had a barber shop and neighbors did not know what to expect when they heard about the opening of Champs Barber. They knew even less what to do when it attracted more diverse patrons to the neighborhood. It took time for the neighbors to warm up, but it was only a question of time for Ian to win them over. He kept being himself and doing good work. Now you can tell that Champs Barber brings value to the neighborhood.
Success did not come easily. Ian had to be obsessed with his project. He had to convince himself that Champs Barber will thrive. Loving to read about great leaders such as Malcom X and Martin Luther King, he understood that when you really believe in something, you have to stay the course and find a way to make it happen. Regardless of what people say, he was confident in his self taught skills and found motivation to excel in his four kids.
A few years from now, Ian envision owning 3 barber shops in central London. He wants to keep it human size to maintain the highest level of quality and customer service. He is also passionate about Champs Barber BattleTM, a barber competition he has been working on. Right now it is focusing on the U.K. but his vision is to have a world competition where the U.K. would compete against the U.S.
I can’t wait to see how far Ian will go and what new barriers he will break. I know it will motivate others to work hard and pursue their dreams, regardless of what is in their way.