Marlon Phillips finished third in the recent JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) Barber and Beauty Challenge competition, and has taken a bold step to start his own business in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, to capitalise on the lessons he learned during the competition.
“I learnt a lot during the Barber & Beauty Competition,” Phillips stated, “And, although I thought that I was professional before, the competition made me more proficient, therefore, I decided to use what I had gained to open my own shop.”
He was a barber for seven years, before he entered the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Challenge, a competition for barbers and hairdressers to showcase their skills in four challenge rounds.
The event held on February 15, 2015 was a first for the small business loan company; and, Phillips made it to the finals, finishing behind winner Sly Scott and second place Alrick Parris. For his efforts, Phillips won $100,000. And, now some three months later, the 28-year-old barber is building on his experience and the funds he gained from the competition to start his own operations.
The barber explained that the idea to start his own operation came about shortly after the competition, when he signed up for a booth at a seminar mounted by his church on Old Harbour Road.
“I used the seminar to demonstrate what I learned in the competition,” he explained, “and, the response was good. I received positive feedback with many of the patrons, who said that I was professional. I also took the opportunity to do some haircuts and made some money. And, from that experience, I decided to take the step and open my own barber shop.”
Mr. Phillips used his winnings from the JNSBL Expo to purchase equipment and supplies. And, the barber is planning to relocate from his current operations at 4 Burke Road in Spanish Town, to a much larger location. His shop, Barbers Fa Christ, already has three employees. A confident business man, Phillips is projecting that he can continue to grow his business; and plans to engage more barbers, hairdressers, a receptionist, a masseuse and an aesthetician.
“My friends and family have been endorsing me as—“the barber from the JN barbers competition,” and, because of that, more people recognise me” he beamed. “I am really happy that I took the bold step to enter the competition, because I received exposure from it; and, most important, I learned a lot about satisfying clients, being able to work in a specified time frames and other necessary aspects of the job.”
In addition to his church seminar, Mr. Phillips also showcased his skills at the Beauty Buzz Expo held at the Jamaica Pegasus on April 11; and, he believes the Expo has made Jamaicans more aware of how professional the industry has become.
“Sometimes, people generally see barbers and hairdressers as hustlers. But, thanks to JN Small Business Loans and the Association for Barbers, people are now seeing us as professionals; and, we are being more serious about what we do,” Mr. Phillips emphasized.
Mrs. Gillian Hyde, General Manager of JNSBL, commended Mr. Phillips for his decision to start his own operations, which demonstrates that many of our micro entrepreneurs, if given a chance, can take the bold step to expand their operations.
“His decision to use his winnings to branch out into his own operations is commendable. Our objective in staging the Expo was two-fold—one, to inform barbers and hairdressers about the options open to them as well as giving them the chance to grow their businesses and I am happy that Mr. Phillips has done this. We stand ready to support him in the future and wish him all the best,” she stated.
For next year, Mr. Phillips plans to enter the competition again and he is also encouraged by the fact that his friends also want to be a part of the challenge because of what they can learn.
“My friends are preparing to enter because they want a chance to showcase their skills and also to benefit from the exposure and knowledge they will be gaining. For me, I want to continue to grow so I want to enter again for that reason,” he maintained.