Writing a blog has been on my never ending to-do list for some time. However, I use the term ‘blog’ loosely as this will more likely be ramblings and opinions on all things Hard Grind, the industry, business, products and, well, anything else my mind wants to spill out on to the page.
I have always been a transparent person, even when it comes to my businesses. With a mind that doesn’t know how to switch off, if nothing else, I think I’ll at least find a productive way to spend those long nights on overdrive staring into space.
To start with, and to be frank, The Daily Grind just sounds cool. It fits in with the brand and sounds like Clark Kent should be working in the cubicle next to me. However, I am under no illusion that I will find the time to deliver a new blog post every day. I will go on record right now and say I will make it a weekly occurrence, but please don’t hold me to that!
A healthy work/life balance is hugely important to me and my family will claim I barely manage it as it is. Let’s just see how much writing a weekly blog manages to tip the scales.
Ok, so for my first “blog” I figured I wouldn’t get carried away and merely give you the back-story of Hard Grind. I also won’t delve into the world of barbering as such but will leave that for another gripping issue…
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Ok, so maybe we won’t go that far back or open up a religious dialogue in issue 1 but let’s just say a lot happened since then. The original concept of a ‘lifestyle’ store was one that I had talked about with various friends for over a decade before Hard Grind’s conception. It wasn’t some grand mastermind of a plan or something I had seen before, but more of a “what would I want to see?” sort of a project.
I grew up in a small fishing town on the east coast of Scotland. When I hit that magic age where you start searching for more in life, I quickly realised my hometown didn’t really have much to offer anymore. The notion of such a store would most definitely have been lost on that town, especially back then. Besides, what the hell did I know about business? My life still revolved around landing kick flips and scraping enough money together to top up my Nokia 3210.
I was lucky enough to travel a lot in my late teens/early twenties. Escaping that small town syndrome truly opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in life. I was always a grafter and stubborn to boot, just like my dad. I knew no matter what I put my mind to I would make it special and I’d get there with dedication and hard work. I think there is a fallacy presented to the youth of today that wanting something bad enough will get you there. To me, want without work is just like wishing or praying. Dream big and wish hard but you have to put in the work to get you there.
I returned home from my travels wide eyed with a big appetite and eager to build.
Now this is something I will discuss further at a later date BUT I have seen far too many people pick up a pair of scissors and, within 8 weeks, open their own shop. I’m not here to say that’s wrong. Hell, I wish anyone with the balls to chase a dream nothing but the best, but I do believe in earning your stripes.
I didn’t come home and open a shop. I watched. I learned. I worked beyond the realms of hard and guess what? I made mistakes. I climbed ladders in companies and focused on business. Out of nothing but the love of being creative and artistic, I’d already been cutting hair and building a small clientele but my primary focus was not on barbering. It was on business. It was dealing with people management, customer service, moral, team building, KPI reports and marketing. It was on sales and buying, schedules and accounts, book keeping and more. It was, and still is, a minefield of which I am still learning but it is one I had to cross in order to fulfill my dream in a realistic fashion.
I had a great mentor during this time. Although he owned the company and had to answer to no one, he led by example every day. First in, last out. Firm but fair and would always bend over backwards for his team. It didn’t matter if you were Sunday staff or a Manager, his door was open to you and boy did that imprint on me. He believed in me like no other and let me combine my ideas with his. For the first time I got to see that a lifestyle element to a retail store would definitely work.
It wasn’t long after this that my mentor emigrated and I met a gentleman by the name of Gordon from Scot Street Style. He was an incredibly forward thinking guy, hell bent on building a global community around creative souls. He was talking to me in detail about a guy he’d met at one of his gatherings. A guy who he claimed had the same passion and ideologies as I did. A driven and creative mind, that should it cross with my own, would lead us both to greatness. Deep right? It did make me laugh after all that build up that he was talking about none other than my friend and owner of Abandon Ship, Richard Davies. Fucking Davies? Insert that monkey face emoticon right around here.
I jest of course. Rich was exactly as Gordon had described. I hadn’t really met someone that could rival my “Fuck it, lets do it!” mentality before and after a conversation at his wedding about my plans for a new shop, it emerged it was on a very similar vibe to something he was looking to do out with Abandon Ship.
A few cheeky meetings, some food and a lot of beers later and we made a baby. I had practiced making babies after a few beers before but this time it was slightly different… Rich will say its because I lasted longer than 30 seconds but come on now! Yes, we made a business baby incorporating all of our loves in one.
Cuts, Clothing and Coffee.
I believe it’s always a good idea in business to work backwards. Sit down and decide what your end goal is. What is the dream? Where do you want it to take you or what do you want to achieve from it? All you then have to do is work backwards. Pick your starting point and prepare to go balls to the wall to get to the finish.
Hard Grind was never aiming to be your friendly neighbourhood barber shop. Our end goal was far beyond that. We didn’t look at others or try to replicate what we had already seen before. We didn’t hire a marketing team or mastermind a plot to get ourselves out there. It was much simpler than that. We were ourselves. We did what we wanted, how we wanted and we never once deviated from the plan.
I’ve seen businesses fail simply because they don’t even know who they are. A trend shifts so they shift with it to keep chasing the money, constantly striving to remain relevant.
Be true, be real, be honest and work harder than you thought possible. It’s the core foundation of Hard Grind and the reason that what started as a little chat at a wedding now employs upwards of 16 people across multiple locations and is still growing. It’s the reason people are reading this who aren’t just customers or even from Scotland. It’s why I’ve seen pictures of our apparel line being worn across the globe.
It’s not because we are special or have broken the mold. It’s not because we are the best or have discovered the unique secret to business and barbering that no one else knows about. We are simply, and most definitely, ourselves. We grind hard every single day and always aim to be the best we can be.
It’s not always easy and it comes with hardships like a lot of things in life, but god I wouldn’t change it for the world.