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Barber builds empire one haircut at a time

Enrico Springfield started his business in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since then. Pictures: Bhekikhaya Mabaso, ANA

Enrico Springfield started his business in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since then. Pictures: Bhekikhaya Mabaso, ANA

Published Oct 25, 2021


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Creativity, arts and crafts mean different things to different people.

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To Enrico Springfield, a popular barbershop owner in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg, art and craft means playing with his hair clippers on the heads of his clientele at his steadily growing barber shop situated on Columbine Avenue.

Enrico Springfield started his business in 2018 and hasn’t looked back since then. Pictures: Bhekikhaya Mabaso, ANA

And when Springfield is crafting and trimming your hair, he does it so masterfully, that one tends to forget, that in fact, someone is clipping your hair. There are no clumsy moments or accidental cuts. It is smooth sailing all the way.

The salon is equipped with the best tools of the trade.

The 21-year-old barber says he knew when he was in Grade 10 already that he wanted to be a barber so much so that after school, he would change his uniform and don his barber apron, and help manage people’s hair and appearances at a nearby barber shop.

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Springfield finds joy in making his clients look good.

In fact, he says, his passion for haircutting started at the age of 14 when he found a set of clippers with which that he played around.

“I literally picked up a clipper one day and cut my hair. It didn’t come out too bad. So, I thought, I should give myself two more weeks and try again to see how it came out next. It was then that I fell in love with it (barbering) because it was something I (realised I) was good at. I started cutting the hair of a few friends from school. A year later, I started working at a nearby barbershop to improve my skills,” says Springfield.

After he matriculated from Mondeor High, Springfield didn’t hesitate to start his own business, a hair parlour not far from his family home. He called the establishment Southside Barber Shop. Ever since he started three years ago, he hasn’t stopped expanding his business.

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The young and enthusiastic lad, sits nervously in his magic chair - where his clients would plunk down comfortably, as he does what he knows best, unintentionally showing off his lion tattoo on his right arm, gestures to relay his story, beaming with excitement, as he colourfully narrates his life chronicle.

Before starting out, Springfield worked at Fifty Shades barbershop from 2015 up until he matriculated in 2018. After matriculating, he went into the haircutting business, full-time. He then left his job at Fifty Shades to start his own thing.

At the time, he was living with his uncle and aunt, who he says were responsible for teaching him good values that led to his drive and determination to succeed. Without their love and support he wouldn’t be where he is, he muses.

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“My mother and I haven’t really had the best of relationships growing up, so my aunt was always there for us when we needed her, for the most part of my life. I was bouncing between living with either of them (mom and aunt) but at the age of 16 when I was old enough, I decided to stay with my aunt. it wasn’t easy, but my aunt always made sure we had what we needed and she was there for us emotionally as well,” he says.

Shortly after leaving his job, the young man asked his uncle for permission to use his shed to set up his business. Months into running his own shop, his clientele grew which then required him to move into a bigger space. He moved his shop to Crown Mines, Johannesburg.

However, when the lockdown happened, last year, like all entrepreneurs, he encountered challenges that forced him to a more affordable place in July 2020.

Springfield says though his family was initially not sold on the idea of him running a barbershop, they soon accepted that this was what he wanted to do because of his drive and determination.

“In the beginning, they (family) were really against it. They asked questions like, ’How are you going to make a living or buy a house’, and all that. As time went on, they eventually started realising that I can actually do this and I’m passionate about it.”

What perches Springfield in the league of top barbers and makes him popular among the young, and sometimes not so young people, is his professionalism and the tools and equipment he has in his shop.

He runs an online booking system to ensure that he is not overcommitted or the place does not have more than two people at a time, in line with Covid-19 regulations.

Springfield prides himself on what he has achieved so far and continues to dream beyond his current success. He wants to travel and see what other barbers around the world are doing.

Apart from travelling, the young entrepreneur hopes to establish his own barbershop academy, so he can share his knowledge with aspiring barbers.

He describes himself as someone who enjoys teaching and wants to afford upcoming barbers an opportunity he never had. As his way of motivating upcoming barbers, he hosts workshops sessions, at least once a month.

“My greatest vision for my brand is to have two or three more stores but the main priority will be having an academy. This is because when I was starting, there weren't any barbers willing to help me. There was no variety. I saw this as an opportunity for me to give back,” he says cheerfully.