When Lily Peddle decided to open her own barbershop, she wasn’t looking to be just any hair salon. Lily’s was going to bring back the best elements of the traditional high-street barbershop and merge it with a chic, modern-day business. It was going to be a place that epitomised the community it inhabited and supported the values of its customers while running a smooth, high-tech operation behind the scenes.
Fast-forward three years and the retail space Lily rented from a friend in 2016 is now Henry Lee Barbershop. It’s a cool — but quaint — barbershop nestled among the trendy retailers of Collingwood’s Johnston Street, frequented by locals looking for a haircut, a beverage and a yarn.
We caught up with Lily to ask a bit about the motivation behind starting her own business and the tools she has used to do it.
Tell us a bit about the backstory of Henry Lee Barbershop
I always wanted to open my own shop since I moved back from working in London. I got back in 2013 and worked in another barbershop for a few years until the opportunity came up to rent a space from a friend in Collingwood. It was a really cool space in the heart of Johnston Street that was previously used as a retail store, but my friend was willing to rent it out to me. So that’s where it all started — with a great location! I worked in the shop solo at the start, building up my clientele and fitting out the interior, then I gradually added to my team as business got busier and busier.
What makes Henry Lee unique?
What sets us apart as a barbershop is that we cater to everyone, not just men, and we have a unique offering where we charge for the work we do — we don’t have prices that are dictated by the gender of our clients. I like to think of Henry Lee as the epitome of a community barbershop.
We really pride ourselves on being an inclusive service that also gives back to our community. We like to work closely with local businesses and campaigns and support them as they support us, so we often chip in vouchers and product packages to locally run fundraiser events. Getting to know our community is the best part of what we do.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting your own business?
I’m a creative person, so bringing creativity to my business wasn’t a challenge, it was learning to be proficient with operational programs like accounting software and staying up to date with bookkeeping. These tasks can be really time consuming, especially for a small business owner who is managing staff and also working in the business.
I quickly found that having a point-of-sale system and accounting software that are clear, intuitive and easy to use makes a huge difference with how I can efficiently manage the data that comes out of the business. Having good systems in place makes my job as a fairly new small business owner so much easier.
Can you tell us about some of the business tools that have helped you day to day?
We have a website with all of our contact and product info on it, and we try to spread the word about our services, clients, pop-ups and community campaigns through social media.
We also use Square for payments and tracking sales. The data-reporting tools are a really good way to see our progress and how busy we are at any given time. It’s really useful for me when I’m not in the shop because I can keep an eye on sales from the app on my phone. It’s brilliant for tracking how my staff is doing too, and can be of great assistance in helping us with staff incentive programs.
You’ve been using Square for a little while now. How have you found the platform and the new Square Terminal?
We started using Square a couple of years ago so that we could accept card payments at our pop-ups and events, as we only had one bank terminal and we needed that in the shop. I liked how all the tools in Square’s platform worked really well together, so I decided to ditch our bank terminal and switch everything across to Square.
We’ve been using the new Square Terminal for a couple of months now and it has been great. It looks fantastic and also integrates seamlessly with the other Square tools that I use to run my business, like the item library and data-reporting tools. Our clients are enjoying it too — I never thought our payments machine could be a topic of conversation.
What does the future look like for Henry Lee?
The future for us looks bright! We are focussed on building the business up and doing more creative collaborations with our friends in the screenprinting, hospitality, brewing and design industries to give our brand a wider reach.
Our goal is to slowly take over Collingwood by giving everyone the best haircut and in-shop experience we possibly can when they come visit. We are only just getting started and our third year is already looking to be our biggest and best one yet, with lots of parties, lots of community events and (of course) lots of good haircuts.
What is the one piece of advice you would tell another entrepreneur starting a shop?
I would definitely advise any aspiring business owner to get familiar with accounting, bookkeeping and point-of-sale systems before you jump in head first. Take your time and learn the operational necessities before you open a shop, or you risk flying by the seat of your pants and not having full control or understanding of your finances.
It’s all well and good to be able to do your job, but owning a small business is about much more than the goods or services you provide. That being said, I think people should take a chance, stay true to themselves and be original. This journey has been the absolute best time of my life and I am truly happy to go to work every day.