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Franklin Whatley

Classic Men

Franklin Whatley

Gabriel Flores  0:01  

Hello everyone and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I am here with a good friend folks, my barber. This man I have fall two different locations. Mr. Frank Wheatley Paco. How are you doing?

Franklin Whatley  0:18  

Doing well doing well. Thanks for having me,

Gabriel Flores  0:20  

man. Thank you for coming on today. I'm really excited. I've been going to this man shop classic man barber shop for several years now. Different locations. He has once one location then went to a different location. But I'll let frank talk about Frank introduced the world. Who is Frank?

Franklin Whatley  0:36  

Hi, how you doing, man? I'm Frank whitely. Like he said, I'm the owner of classic men barber shop. I've been in business as an owner for seven years now. But I've been a barber for 20. I started off my career in 1999. Oh, wow. Yeah. So I've been doing this a while. Talk about who I am. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I grew up in a two family household mother and father up into the age of 10 years old. And we went from a to family I used to say like kinda like the Huxtables where we sit around, had dinner together big Christmases and all that stuff. We went from that to a one bedroom apartment. In, in the ghetto. So when So growing up, have living in the suburbs, the first part of your life and then go into the ghetto. It's a big, it's a big change. It's a big change. And not only when we did move from we did move from the suburbs to the ghetto, or inner city. I like to use the term inner city. I don't know why I'm saying there you go into the inner city. That's where we ended up in. Yeah. So I went there. And I stayed with my mom for two years. I remember coming home at 12 years old, and my mom had all my bags packed on the porch. And she said, you're you know, I was I wasn't a troublesome kid, I got in a lot of trouble at that age. And I think every kid kind of acts out a little bit when their parents go through some similar things. But I was acting out a little bit and my mom couldn't handle it. And she said, You're gonna live with your father. So I moved in with my father at at this point. And this is where I think my entrepreneurial spirit came in, is because my father was a lounge singer. Okay, a lot of people don't know that my father was one of the best. And I'm not saying that just because it's my father. He was really one of the best loud singers in Cleveland. So my job on Fridays and Saturday nights was to carry all the equipment for the band. So they would give me five bucks and spa eight members of the band. So think about being 1112 years old, getting $40 every weekend. I was doing well, like when ice cream truck came by and ice cream for my friends. And in that moment, I knew how I loved hand to hand cash. It puts it felt so good to have somebody put cash in my hand for hard work. And I knew right then I wanted to receive money in my hand for hard work. And I knew that was me at 12 years old. So I started actually playing sports. Now everybody who knows me knows I'm biggest Cleveland Browns fan. Me and my dad used to go to the training camps every summer. Big Cleveland Browns fan. loved football. My dad was a die hard football fan. That was the way we connect. About 13 years old, I decided I wanted to play football. And when you play football, of course, I couldn't do that job anymore. And I actually ended up being pretty good. I was good enough to where some of the Catholic schools wanted to recruit me to come play football there. Again, this is another way this shaped my life because going to a school that was predominantly black. And in fact, let's not even tease predominantly. I didn't go to school with a different race until high school. Oh, wow. So I went with all black kids. My whole life and all of a sudden, a school says they liked the way I performed in sports. So now they I Going to a school that is predominantly white, big change for me. And it was the greatest change. Because now I understand now as an adult, how I can move in different rooms. And back then, you know, you only wanted to appease your peers. But now I can appease people who are who are my peers, but are in different classes. So that was another thing that helped me with my entrepreneurial spirit. Then after that, football I did pretty good. I got recruited by a couple of small schools. And me being the the this is my bad Gemini, but me, arrogant person that I was, I was like, I should be being recruited by Ohio. I'm a good football player. I'm not going to any of these schools. Not going to any of these schools not going to do it. And the story is in my pastor, he loves this story. I love telling it to him, he sometimes he asked me to tell him this story, because he thinks that it is an amazing story. But at my school, after you graduate, everyone comes back for Christmas vacation. And you go to the basketball game. That's what everybody do. All the teachers are there. They congratulate you. Everyone asked you what you're doing. Now let's remember I went to Catholic school, and it was a college preparatory school 99% of the students that I went to high school, we went to college. We graduated 101 students, I was pretty much the only person who did not go to college. Man. Can you believe that? I'm the only person at least that night it may have been another guy he didn't show. I was the only guy who didn't go to college. And I was embarrassed. I was completely embarrassed. Everybody's talking about all their new experiences and, and life and being out on their own and their girlfriends and boyfriends and, and drinking and doing drugs and Iein still at home doing the same old thing. So I started cutting hair. In high school a little bit. I used to cut hair and like study hall and cut some of the teammates in the locker room. And I decided right then and there. I said the only thing I know how to do is cut here. So not even two days later, I think it was like January 3. I went to the barber school and enrolled. Now when I get to the barber school, I think like It's like school you're enrolling. You just go no, you gotta pay. So oh my god, how well how much is it? Well, luckily, back then we think of it now. Kind of a Catholic school was $4,000 a month, I think my barber education was going to be $5,000 I had nothing. The only thing I was doing was at the time was selling weed. And I wasn't even good at that. I was like, wow, how do I come up with this? $5,000. So I talked to my dad, my dad is still pissed at me that I didn't go to some of these small schools and he said, I think you should still pursue football and all that. And suddenly my dad didn't talk for a while but I decided on my own and I said, Well, I'm gonna get this money some kind of way. So I hustled up the money the best way I knew how I sold things that didn't matter. And I was able to put that $1,000 down payment down. And that was on a payment plan. So during barber school, I worked at Bally's Total Fitness. The whole time I was a I was a janitor. So I cleaned up the weight rooms in in the locker rooms and things like that. And that's how I paid for my education. As soon as I paid off barber school, I quit that. And the rest was history. And then I think at the end, I'd never forget it. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Um, two months before I graduated, my dad walked through the barber school door and got his hair cut by me. And, and he told me he was proud of me. And that's one of those days that I remember to this day, you know, he he he finally approved and he finally supported me and and he came in and got his hair cut and he gave me $100 tip and I don't know, back then You know, $100 tip was

Gabriel Flores  10:02  

needed, man, it's so great today I

Franklin Whatley  10:05  

needed it so bad. So it was a great day and he became one of my best clients even after I graduated barber school and went into my own shop, he became one of my best clients. So, the the reason I say this when you ask who is Frank whitely, you get to know that I'm very resilient very resilient and and I'll fight for for what I want. And when I decide that this is what I'm gonna do, this is what I'm gonna do.

Gabriel Flores  10:40  

I like it. Now classic men why why the name classic men.

Franklin Whatley  10:43  

So funny. Okay, so we're gonna go through this interview finding out how much of an idiot I am. And this is, this is me being an idiot is I had no name for the barbershop it got to two weeks before I opened, I still had no name. Had no name. The names I was I didn't want to name it Frank's barbershop, but the stuff that was just like old school and corny and I wanted to name it that him barbershop because every time guys got finished getting a haircut, they look in the mirror and I say Is that him? And he like? Yeah, that's him. Yeah. So I wanted to name it that but then also said that that's so personal, and corny, as well. So I didn't want to do that. And I don't know how I remembered this. But in barber school, they make you go through the whole marketing scheme of opening your own barber shop and setting everything up. And that was the name I used for my barber shop in that. So that's the name I said, I'm gonna go ahead and choose.

Gabriel Flores  12:00  

So you didn't just start the barber? Did you start the barber shop as soon as you became a barber? Or did you actually cut some hairs before that and kind of work under somebody? No,

Franklin Whatley  12:10  

no, no. As soon as I got out of barber school, so quick story is, I have seven barbers in my family. And my uncle owns a barber shop where five of those seven all worked in there. So when I got out of barber school, I was able to go into my uncle's barber shop with five other family members, which was the greatest, the greatest gift that anyone can give someone who wants to be an owner, or or want to go into business is to a lot of people is sorry, is to go in with family. But a lot of people, like really mean love, like, going into business with family. But if there's a mutual respect amongst the family members, knowing that this is business, and this is family, it's a different cause. And that's what it was, and, and they took me on, like, they wanted me to be great. They wanted me to be great. So they pushed me and they, and he helped me. And it was a it was real love, along with, you know, business?

Gabriel Flores  13:17  

What is something that you that they taught you that you're like, Damn, that makes sense. When I think about that.

Franklin Whatley  13:23  

My uncle taught me how to control the room. That was one of the things that in to this day, I understood is when every when there's a conversation going on in the barbershop, how to actually control that conversation. Like he would. I don't know if you ever watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Do but so Larry David has talked about being the middle in at the dinner table, how you can push the conversation and and carry the conversation without actually being a conversationalist. And I learned that from him, he would show me how to like barbershops a little quiet who wants this, and he would go and start making conversation out of nowhere. Now, everybody in the barbershop is talking having fun. And he taught me how to do that. Nice. I know how to do that in that. I excel at it.

Gabriel Flores  14:16  

What so when when was the transition between being the barber at the uncle shop to being the entrepreneur and the owner of your own barber shop?

Franklin Whatley  14:27  

Very good question. So, my uncle used to cut an NBA player, Terrell Brandon, that is out here in Portland. And one day, my uncle he's way 73 years old. So he was talking about he was he was getting close to the 60s then. And he couldn't cut his hair that night. So he sent me because he was tired or whatever he was going through. He didn't feel like doing it. So he sent me and I cut his hair. After I cut his hair, I started cutting his hair more and more. And I became his barber after that. So now I'm cutting to NBA player. And people in the neighborhood are starting to see it. So now they want to come to me. So it was like almost like an overnight success situation where I was known as an NBA barber or whatever you want to call that. No. But um, I started cutting his hair. And he asked me to move out to Portland to work in his barber shop, because I had been cutting his hair. And if I said, No, I'm not moving to Portland. I'm from Cleveland. I love Cleveland, Cleveland's me, I'm Cleveland, I love the browns, a lot of calves, I'm not going anywhere. And then he. And then something happened, one of my good friends actually got into some trouble. And he actually, he actually murdered someone. And the family and friends of that person were out to get anybody who knew him. And I used to go to the club with him all the time, I was my best friend growing up. And it was a possibility that they could have been trying to get to me as well. I'm not saying there was never any conversation to say, hey, well, people did tell me hey, you know, I want to watch it back. But there was never any for sure. But it was almost like a Fresh Prince of Bel Air situation. It was almost like that. So I called Terrell and I say hey, man, do you still want me to come out to Portland? He was like, Sure. So then I moved out to Portland. So I kind of I kind of ran under my uncle, then school by Terrell and Terrell taught me the business outside of the business. Like, I understood the barbering business from my uncle, but real kind of showed me how to maneuver and how to market and how to give back to the community and watch the community come to you. And that's what transitioned me to understand that I could be an owner myself.

Gabriel Flores  17:14  

You just mentioned community. And I noticed that's something I've been working with you quite some time. Communities, something you're big into. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Why? Why is it so important to

Franklin Whatley  17:25  

because when, when I was working in Will's barber shop, the community gave so much to me. So the barber shop in Cleveland, and it worked. It was across the street from the project. So I remember it was a scary time, my uncle gave me a gun. And he said, hey, you've been here by yourself a lot. He said, I've been robbed, he's a you'll never want to be robbed. Here's a gun, just keep it at your station. If something happened, happens, you know, but you need to be able to protect yourself. So all the kids in the neighborhood, they always knew what time I was getting off. They would come to the barbershop and walk out with me. So back then walking out at a barber shop on a Saturday with $500. That's a lot of money. You've been working all day, made about 545 $100. And people used to rob barbershops. Because it was always cash back. Yes, not card like it is yeah. So the kids in the neighborhood would come and walk out the barbershop with me. And I don't know if you guys are familiar with we had those melt metal gates, you have to let down, turn the key and then the metal gate, let down the cover up the glass and the whole barbershop and he was standing there with me the whole time. Make sure nobody bothered me. The community looked out for me. And I just believe in I just believe in like paying it forward. And I believe that I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for some people in my community. So I always want to give back always want to be there always want to help out people because you never know when you could be that people.

Gabriel Flores  19:16  

Yeah. So you're working over at Toro brand and shop right? You move to Oregon. How did you then finance? Or how did you then pivot? Or did you did you have another stop in between before you went to classic men?

Franklin Whatley  19:30  

There was no pivot. There was no finance. It's the weirdest story ever. And I'm going to tell it because I'm here. So I started to get homesick. I had been out here for eight maybe. No, I had been here 10 years and I started to get homesick. And I told talk to Terrell and I said hey, I gave you 10 years of my life and you know barbershops doing great and I think I want to move back home, I think I think I'm done with this. And he was like, whatever you want to do, I support you, 100%. And I said, Alright, so talk to him about it. And I started making transitions into moving back to Cleveland. And one of my clients said, Hey, man, are you ever thought about opening up your own barber shop? And I said, I thought about it, but I don't really think it's for me. And then he said, Well, this is a great location on Beaverton, that I was trying to get to, to open up a weed store, which you should go look at. I'm thinking about moving back to Cleveland. I'm not telling people this right now, when people know as my family is real, but I'm saying, maybe I don't know. And he talked me into just going to see the space. So go and see the space. And the guy said, had been vacant for so many years that he would give me a deal that I couldn't refuse. And that was it. I said, I couldn't believe that that was the deal that he was going to give me. And I said, this has to be a gift from God, like or this is a sign like I need to stay here because there's no way that somebody can give me rent this cheap doing anything. And that was that was it.

Gabriel Flores  21:33  

So how did you then build your team? Right? Because you had more than one chairs in that shop?

Franklin Whatley  21:38  

Well, for the first two years, I was there by myself.

Gabriel Flores  21:42  

How hard was that?

Franklin Whatley  21:43  

Horrible. So horror was horrible. I hated it. And I don't know how I got through it. Because I'm good at just talking to my clients. But think about always being in a shop where I've always worked with other barbers have always, like in my uncle's shop, it was six barbers there. It's rails, it was four. And I'm always used to being in a room full of people. Now you can hear my echo, in the barbershop, it was hard. So how I built my team is I started working at a barber school, well, a cosmetology school. And when I work, I would work there, get this, I will work there from 8am to 10am, go to the shop from 11 to seven, and work I mean, sorry, actually 630 and then go back to the cosmetology school, from seven to 10. That was my schedule. And that was how I got my first crew of barbers where they were my students. But that's what I needed to do at the time in order to get to get barbers because I thought I was this guy, I come to find out that nobody wanted to work with me just because of who I thought I was, like, they didn't want to work with me, like so I had to go out and, and use my resources that way. So I was able to get three guys from that school. And after that, you know, more barbers came along and the shop started to do well and then it started to do great.

Gabriel Flores  23:34  

Did you ever have a moment in that period or a time of self doubt?

Franklin Whatley  23:39  

She it self doubt that I'm I'm doubting his interview, right? I mean, I'd struggle with self doubt. So much is ridiculous. But but one thing I'm able to do with myself, doubt is out do it anyway. Like, even though I'm doubting myself, I will physically do it anyway. And I think a lot of people need to know that self doubt is not a curse is not a bad thing. It's just your mind telling you that you can't do something that your body is willing to do. And you have to just go ahead and do it anyway. And that's that's what I do. But I doubt I doubt a lot about myself. Just just Saturday, I was just saying like, I feel like I'm one of the best barbers in Portland. But this hair cut I don't really like. And when I gave the guy the mirror, he said Man is the best haircut I've ever had. That's how it goes, though. He says the best haircut he ever had. And I'm sitting up here saying, I thought it could have been better, you know? So every I think I think it's a normal thing. And I think it's a healthy thing if you use it in that capacity, you know, so

Gabriel Flores  24:57  

I like it. Yeah, no, it's very true. So now Now, you built your team, you have the shop, you have cheap rent. But then you move. Yeah, move to a different location.

Franklin Whatley  25:07  

Well, one thing about business, and people need to understand and all the entrepreneurs understand is, yes, you do have cheap rent. At first. You gotta read that contract. You make sure you read that lease, because, yes, on the phone, a friend in the rent was very cheap. The rent was so manageable I, I was able to make it. And if it wasn't for that manageable rent, trust me, I wouldn't have made it I would have, I wouldn't have made it six months. But on the back end, see, this thing where the rent goes in steps is almost like steps were increases? Well, because my room was so cheap on the front end, and increased dramatically. So almost like in 2008, the the housing market where they got into those flex hole loans. And then when it when it kicked in, he's like, Great example. God. So yeah, kicked in. And I was like, hold on. I went from $1,000 to $3,000. And, and the leasing agent looked at me and he said, Yeah, wait the next year, because it's going up to 3800. And then after that is going up to 4500. So you know, but I understood the hustle. And I got it. I get it again, because he took a chance on me. Yeah, you know, I got it. But in business people need to understand is you don't fall in love with any of this shit. Don't fall in love with none of this shit is business is no, oh, well, I've been in this location, I love this. None of that means anything. What you need to make sure you do is make sure that your bottom line is taken care of. You need to make sure that whatever you have to pay out is dramatically cheaper than what you bring in. And that's what it's about. It's not about it's not about loving or being nostalgic nostalgia in business do not mix. Do not be nostalgic about any of this stuff. It's about the bottom line, how can I increase my revenue and make sure that I'm paying out cheaper? Yeah. So that's why I moved, I moved because I downsized, I got a better location, and got in because now that I know how to negotiate I even got a better deal. In hindsight nine, of course, $1,200 a month is remarkable. But in hindsight, I got a better deal because it's flat, it's fixed, right? I don't have to worry about it going up and, and doing all that weird stuff. It's fixed. I'm good. I know how much I need to make in at this point. I can make it a couple of days.

Gabriel Flores  28:05  

Now, as a small business owner, what keeps you up at night?

Franklin Whatley  28:11  

My employees 100%. My employees, man, I worry about them. I worry about the families, you know, saying I think about them, I want them to be successful. Because I know how they look at it. They look at my books, and they look at Oh, you booked two weeks out? Or you're booked a week and a half out like how do you do it? You know? And and I don't want them to think that working with me that I'm feel like I'm above them or I'm better than them like no, we all work together. You know, just because you see this, you didn't see all the other stuff. You know you it's like though they call it a swan, where they look so graceful and then under the legs. Like you don't understand what it takes to keep this up. So I do I worry about them. I want them to all be successful too. But I want them to understand that if you get it, if you get it slower, you'll you'll love it more. Whereas if you have you have that quick success, it can go away just as fast as it came. So yeah, it keeps me up at night. Also, what keeps me up at night is also like being the best recipe representation of myself. Like keeping up what people think about you. You know, like everybody looks at me and thinks, you know, not everybody. That sounds a little arrogant, let's say just people who onlookers who look on me and say hey man, you're successful. You're successful businessman. I look up to you your inspiration, things like that. You want to keep that up. You know, you want people to think that that that you got it all handled, but there's no way to hand A lot of you just just, you know, you just work.

Gabriel Flores  30:05  

You know, one of the things you mentioned is your workers do see you and they see that you're booked out two weeks. Right? And I'll tell you folks listening right now, I changed my entire schedule just to get on this guy's schedule, right? Two weeks out. How do you brand yourself? How do you market yourself? How did you build this up?

Franklin Whatley  30:22  

Oh, Guerilla Marketing. Guerrilla Marketing

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