Success is about giving back

Richard Grizzle started cutting hair when he was 14. He set up Foxy’s Barbers in Wolverhampton 18 years ago, aged just 19.

He is a Barber Assessor at City of Wolverhampton College and also delivers barbering services for the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Academy.

What are the biggest business challenges you face?

I have been renting chairs for the last six years and it works well for me, but you do run into the typical issues of having someone running their own business within yours. I have regular meetings with my renters to avoid conflicts of interest and to ensure the relationship works smoothly.

Another challenge is that in barbering we lack the career structure that you have in the hairdressing industry. I think it would make it easier for business owners if there was more structure, more barbers delivering training in colleges, creating a more formal route for talented people to progress through the industry.

Apart from that there are the usual financial challenges of running a business – making a profit and getting access to money.

What are your tips for success?

I was a young person who needed support and feel that giving back is important to success.

I have done a lot of high-profile work with celebrities, but I have also given employment opportunities to many young people in Wolverhampton, many of whom continue to practice the trade.

For example I used to do barbering work at a local prison and deliver talks on the industry. I arranged for an ex-offender to work at Foxy’s on a six month work release programme. Six years down the line, he continues to work with me. He has the passion and skills to be great at his job and has never re-offended.
I also get out into my local community and often sponsor community events.

What I like about the barbering industry is its openness. As long as you can cut hair and are good with people, you can do well.

What are your plans for the future?

The business is doing well. I have recently set up a hairdressing salon in the same building. 
We are challenging the stereotype by having multi-ethnic staff and a very diverse range of clients. It’s a beautiful chemistry evolving in front of me and a model that should be reflected around the country. The barriers need to be broken down.

Moving forwards, I hope to continue to deliver accredited barber training programmes whilst maintaining my ultimate goal in raising standards in the barbering industry across the board. I want to expand my current business, Foxy’s, through various means, including franchising and maybe one day running an independent barber school, who knows…?

How does NHF help you run your business?

It provides an important legal framework around the business.

I used to draw up my own agreements with chair renters until I learnt about the importance of having legally watertight contracts. I’ve also heard stories about people running into problems with the tax man due to poorly drafted contracts.

NHF’s contracts have an excellent reputation. They are recognised by HMRC and protect renters in terms of what to expect of me.