This article is part of a series in partnership with Coast Capital to support local, small businesses as they reopen following COVID-19. The credit union’s Community Relief Fund helped small businesses and non-profits address emergency funding needs throughout the first phase of the pandemic.
It’s no secret that small businesses have had it rough the past few months. But, unlike some industries who could pivot to offer delivery, the options for barbers to offer their services from a distance has been much more challenging, if not impossible.
For Kane McHugh, a barber at Status Barbershop in Victoria, the change was immediate. One day, he was behind the chair; the next, he was sitting at home.
“I was out of business as a barber for two months,” he tells Daily Hive.
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While McHugh initially inquired about the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan, he learned that he didn’t qualify, meaning he had to find a solution quickly to be able to make ends meet.
The answer lay in his nascent online company: Brute Barber Co. He’d been slowly building the business for a year. However, a majority of Brute retailers were other barbershops, and those orders dried up seemingly overnight.
“This was the swift kick in the butt,” he admits. “This is that moment. I can’t pay my bills and I can’t cut hair, so I’ve got to use this time as wisely as I can.”
McHugh began reaching out to customers, offering contactless delivery of Brute Barber Co.’s signature beard oils.
“I got a pretty amazing response and I was doing at least a delivery every day or two, if not two or three a day.”
It was well-timed, too, as self-isolation saw many people growing beards for the first time. “There was a lot of new clientele who were reaching out to me,” he says. “But I also found that clients I already had wanted to support me through this time too. […] They knew that I would be struggling.”
McHugh says he originally started his beard oil company because he saw a gap in the market for high-quality men’s products.
“I was shocked by, first off the lack of quality products available and the fact that the vast majority of those that were available were full of chemicals and fillers. I decided the market needed a new product, one that can do more than just smell good,” he says.
Brute Barber Co. currently offers two beard oils: Lemon & Earl Grey and Mint Chocolate. The products promise to moisturize the skin, promote hair growth, prevent breakage and dandruff, and treat inflammation.
“Both are really well-received but the Lemon & Earl Grey is definitely the fan favourite. It’s such an original scent made from a perfect blend of all-natural ingredients that provide too many benefits and uses to list,” says McHugh.
According to McHugh, he is now back in the shop cutting people’s hair, but he couldn’t have done it without the help of Coast Capital Savings’ Community Relief Grant.
Coast Capital developed the $400,000 fund to help non-profits and their small business members impacted by the pandemic. The credit union developed the fund in response to the urgent needs within the community due to the swift and severe measures put in place to flatten the curve of the virus.
“The credit union’s response to what they knew was a challenging time for me as a small business owner was pretty phenomenal,” explains McHugh.
“There was no long, arduous application process, no hoops to jump through, just emergency funds in my business account exactly when I needed it. That is what caring for your community and your members really looks like,” he says.
McHugh is now enjoying being back on his feet (literally and figuratively). “I’m excited to be back behind the chair cutting hair again and really enjoying helping people with their COVID hair crises,” he says with a laugh.
If you or someone you know has a COVID beard that needs some love, head to Brute’s newly revamped website. You can either have the products shipped to you (just in time for Father’s Day!) or safely picked up in-store.
Coast Capital Savings is helping its personal and small business members and the credit union’s wider communities through this time of uncertainty in a myriad of ways. To learn more, visit the Coast Capital Savings small business COVID-19 support hub here.