“To be honest you can make a lot of money if you hustle hard. It’s like being a Realtor the more clients you have the more money you can make”.
The young Entrepreneur went from being a tour manager, to building Maison Privee, a prestigious store front barbershop located in the heart of the Old Port. As you walk through the doors, trap music is bumping through the speakers and the high ceilings and big windows create an ambiance and a vibe that is second to none. I sat down with the South Shore Native who opened up his barbershop one year ago, and we discussed his business, life and happiness.
514: First of all congratulations on being a dad, how excited are you about the arrival of your son?
OK: I’m very excited. I’ve always been a family- oriented guy. I met my wife and we got married six months after being together. And everything is going well for us right now in my personal and business life.
514: How did you find your love?
OK: It was just randomly, we met on Instagram and Facebook as friends in common. She was living in California, and she came here to visit and she just never left.
514: It feels like it was love at first sight, where did you guys get married?
OK: It was not planned at all. We got married in Las Vegas with an Elvis Presley Priest. We were celebrating our six month anniversary. I bought here a cheap ring over there just to do the exchange, and then I bought her a really nice ring when we came back over here.
514: Talk about being spontaneous, do you regret not having the big wedding done?
OK: No, not at all. I got married to Gucci Mane playing in the church that was amazing.
514: Does anything scare you about being a new dad?
OK: Working too much, and not having enough time to spend with him.
514: As your son grows up, would you push him towards having an interest in Barbering?
OK: I don’t think so, honestly it’s a tough job. Yeah, if you know how to hustle you’re going to make money. But you can’t call in sick last minute, if you have 20 clients they’re all waiting for you. You can’t even take vacations when you’re a barber, because in two weeks you can lose all your clients and they will go somewhere else.
514: So you never take any vacations?
OK: No I don’t. I rarely take vacations. Now, I can start thinking about it because my name is a bit more established. But at the beginning you just can’t.
514: What made you decide to pursue this lifestyle of standing on your feet all day barbering?
OK: Well actually, I was working at a few labels as a tour manager for mostly metal bands, and we were on the road all the time and we didn’t have time to cut our own hair. So we decided to go buy hair clippers and we would take turn cutting each other’s hair in a Motel 6, blasting hip hop and I was like “Hey this is pretty dope”.
514: So your credentials and training came from cutting hair in hotels?
OK: That’s it, there was no training I just learned by myself. Because we were desperately in need of a haircut, we shaved each other’s hair and I thought to myself , “OK maybe I’m not so bad at this”, and every other tour we had I was practicing on the band mates, and then a year after I started cutting full time.
514: Was your hand trembling the first time you picked up the clippers?
OK: No not really, I was drunk as Fuc* (laughs). There’s really nothing that stresses me out as a person. I just kinda go with the flow. Even now, it’s been three years I’ve been cutting hair with no education, and a lot of times a guy would come in here and ask me for a cut that I’ve never done before, and I’m like you know what “I’m just going to wing it”.
514: At what point did you start to gain confidence to start charging for your services?
OK: As soon as I stopped tour managing in the States, I moved back to the South Shore. I was telling people “yeah I know how to cut hair I was doing it in the States” (which really wasn’t true). So people started showing up, and I wasn’t charging that much like $15 a cut. Just building a name. Then my name started getting out there.
514: When you moved back to the South Shore, where were you cutting hair from?
OK: I rented a little space in a tattoo shop in the South Shore, I bought a chair and a mirror and I was cutting in the tattoo shop.
514: Have you ever had to deal with a customer who was unhappy with there hair cut?
My first week of working in the South Shore , I had a black guy show up asking me to do a tight line up on him, and I’m thinking to myself “I’ve never done this before”.
514: Did you wing it or did you tell him you’ve never done a tight line up before?
OK: No I didn’t tell him I was like fuc* it, I’m doing this, it can’t be that hard, and actually it was that hard, and I fuc*ed up so bad (laughs). I pushed his line up way too far. He was so pissed I just shaved his head and gave him back his money.
514: What about now is there a cut that you can’t do?
OK: There’s a lot of things that I can’t do. I have 6 guys working here who are all super talented. Like I’m not comfortable with designs, so if someone comes in here and wants to do a design I’m not going to do it.
514: What qualities do you look for when another barber wants to come work with you?
OK: I would say it’s more a vibe than anything. Some places they only hire you if you have a big clientele because they know you’re going to bring in money. But for me, at first I want you to bring a good vibe and I want you to be able to cut hair obviously. I also like people with certain skills, so if you are good with the blade I need a guy like that, or someone who is good with long hair, or a guy who is good with designs. So if you have a specific talent and you are a cool dude, then you are in.
514: Do barbers make good income right out of the gate?
OK: To be honest you can make a lot of money if you hustle hard. It’s like a realtor the more clients you have the more money you make. I push my barbers to work as much as they can, and its $35 bucks a cut, so if you can fit in 3 clients in an hour, you can make as much as a lawyer. All the barbers here started making $300 a week, now they’re at $1000 a week.
514: Is there a Barber school in Montreal for someone who wants to get into this field?
OK: I think there’s one. Its private and honestly its garbage.
514: Why did you choose this location at the Old Port for your business?
OK: There just wasn’t none over here. There was no barber shops there just hair salons. I was living here and my partner was living here so we decided that this was it. And this spot is just sick with high ceilings and big windows.
514: How did you come up with the name Maison Privee ?
OK: Honestly that just took 20 minutes. The whole branding took us an hour. I was having a couple of beers with my partner when we decided to open up the shop. And I was just pitching names and we thought Privee was pretty cool and he took out his laptop and design the logo and the whole branding was done in an hour.
514: What’s the culture and vibe that you are trying to establish in here?
OK: Well trap music is always playing, and we get a lot of businessmen coming in here. This place is for everybody. Its just a relax vibe.
514: You have a lot of tattoos does any of them hold any meaning to you?
OK: I don’t really believe in meanings with tattoos, because your perspective with shy* can always change. Lets say you do a Christian tattoo, and all of sudden you’re not into Jesus anymore. Your fuc*, your stuck with that tattoo. But if you like cats than your always going to like cats. So get a cat tattoo (laughs).
514: How did you establish such a large following on social media?
OK: Honestly I don’t know, it just pop. I think it was the web we did ourselves, and also when I was tour managing I met a lot of people on tour. I guess fans just started following, I did a little bit of modeling for some cool gigs. I don’t know its like everything I’ve touched since the age of 16 has turned out real nice for me.
514: Was modeling something you integrated with the business or before?
OK: I was modeling just before the business, it was something I started doing when I was 17, I never did it seriously but different clothing lines would approach me and ask me if I wanted to snap some pics and do a look-book. It was quick money and it was fun.
514: So if you wasn’t a barber you think you would of took the modeling path?
OK: No, I would probably go to school and try to do something. I don’t know, I’m a business guy mostly so anything that makes money that I can put my hands on and manage.
514: So you don’t follow dreams you follow passion?
OK: Exactly, I find something cool and then I’m going to go all the way in. And make the most out of it and then I’m going to pursue something else.
514: Whats your biggest accomplishment in life so far?
OK: This year is my biggest accomplishment, opening up the business, meeting my wife, getting married, and sobering up. All in one year.
514: If you had a chance to do something all over again and make it right, what would you do?
OK: Sobering up earlier, I think I would of pushed it even more.
514: Did you encounter any struggles in life growing up?
OK: Not really, I haven’t had any struggles in life. That’s what’s so crazy when I think about it. Everything has been working so well. I’ve been broke from when I was tour managing, but I never felt sad about it or anything. I never regret anything in life.
514: Whats your best childhood memory?
OK: I think being with my friends when I had more time to hang out. I was always surrounded by good people growing up.
514: Is it true that once you become successful in life you have to start cutting out some of your friends?
OK: Yeah, and it’s not because they are not worth your time, because I have a lot of friends that I miss that I haven’t seen in years, but it’s just the time that we don’t have.
514: What was your most embarrassing moment in life?
OK: That’s hard, I’m sure I had a lot of drinking moments for sure. I would say when I had to sleep in the Underground Stations in New York City for two days, I missed my connection train and the next day there was a snow storm. I got my phone stolen and I was sleeping with Hobos.
514: Define happiness?
OK: Success. If I do something and I don’t succeed than I’m not happy. Even if it’s playing video games and I fuc* up the level then I’m just pissed off.
514: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
OK: My partner has a tattoo on his back that says , “I run like a slave to walk like a king”. I think that’s pretty bad ass. It means that you hustle even though you’re not making money, and just keep at it and then one day someone is going to ask you “how did you make it”.
514: Who is in your music playlist right now?
OK: I’m a big Gucci Mane fan.
514: What’s the worst job you ever had?
OK: I worked for three hours in a recycling plant cleaning trash, I quit on my first break, I just left without telling anybody.
514: Where’s your favorite place to hang out in the City?
OK: My friend owns a restaurant called Barroco in the Old Port, its just my favourite place to go.
514: What’s the one event you cant miss in the City every year?
OK: I would say the Maison Privee yearly event, and probably Osheaga. I never been but this year we”re cutting there.
514: My last question is based on an article that we are writing, is being a minuteman in bed a compliment to a woman?
OK: (Laughs). I think one minute is not so bad, I’ve heard of people having stories way worse than one minute. It all depends on how hardcore you go. If you bang a girl in the car for one minute and you come, then that’s hardcore. But if you’re at home and there’s candles and then you come in one minute, then you’re just a loser. You got a problem.
Facebook: Oliver Kult
Cover Photo Credit:@maxvincekennedy
Written By: Vlad Pierre
Edited By: Yvonne Sam
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