"It's been an interesting ride managing a team of barbers and looking at [things] from the perspective of a barber shop owner"
Opening a barbershop is no easy feat. Opening a barbershop right in the middle of a global pandemic – well that’s just badass. Thomas Dennis, never expected that he would become a barbershop owner in a town so far away from home. But when opportunity comes knocking on your door, or in this case…on your portside – you steer ahead and set sail.
Here’s how Eikonic alumni Thomas Dennis transformed a centuries old corner lot into the hottest barbershop New Brunswick has ever seen. Today, Bayside Barbers welcome guests from all over town, but is a huge tourist attraction for Caribbean cruise tourists who are docked literally at the front doors of the shop.
Thomas Dennis was always creative, however had felt unfilled even after trying his hand at various creative careers paths.
“I would always be looking at the clock, always wanting to go home. But once I came here, I think it was two weeks into classes – I instantly knew this was like the route to go.”
Thomas, a Niagara native decided to move to New Brunswick with the encouragement of his family during the pandemic. Shortly moving to New Brunswick Thomas recalls his experience getting a job at the local barbershop in town.
“I was quickly met with the realization that a lot of barbershops [were outdated]. I was used to showing up to a job on the first day and [doing things] like bringing my tools and doing a trial run, signing some tax forms, getting payroll set up. [However] I pull up and the owner points out the station [for me] to set up to start working. [I thought] it was cool but it was not the [professionalism] I was expecting”
He adds that he “absolutely loved the barbering work” however recognized that there was a deep void that was not being met in the community.
“I started looking around Saint John’s and realized that every single barber shop here is the exact same and they’re all stuck in like the 90s, were cash only, had no online bookings, and were closed more than they were open.”
Noticing that the barbershop experience was largely outdated in not only its haircutting styles but also in its business operations, Thomas decided to take matters into his own hands and create the change that he wanted to see. In a matter of 4 weeks, Thomas set the high goal giving himself exactly 1 month to take number 1 Princess street from zero – to operational.
Thomas visited the academy in late March where he shared his journey with Eikonic’s current students. At the time of his visit, Bayside Barbers was open for 6 months and was an already booming barbershop of 5 barbers strong.
If your dream is to open up your own barbershop, Thomas’s words of encouragement is that
“It’s not as hard as you think”
Although he admits he is still learning things everyday as a new business owner. He also has moments where he feels lost but subconsciously will remember small techniques, tips and tricks and advice from his academy days resurface just in the right moment.
“It’s been an interesting ride managing a team of barbers and looking at [things] from the perspective of a barber shop owner instead of just trying to succeed yourself behind the chair. The work is a lot different”
Thomas feels lucky to have found himself in such an opportune situation in St. John’s, and believes that the knowledge and experiences he picked up while in school has helped prepare him to take on the perfect opportunity.