Our Neighbourhood Feature aims to highlight successful business owners in Yaletown. This is your chance to meet the people behind the business and get to know their story.
This weeks featured member is Farzad and Shelley Salehi.
Name: Farzad and Shelley Salehi
Company: Farzad’s Barber Shop
Year started: 2006
Why did you start your business in Yaletown?
I remember the day in October of 2005 when Farzad decided to go out for a walk to see if he could find a suitable space for a barber shop he could call his own. He didn’t have a specific neighbourhood in mind, but after walking around downtown Vancouver, he found an empty space inside the old Murchies Building and knew this was it. Eleven years after moving to Vancouver and twenty years of working as a barber he knew this had to be the place, the place to build his barber shop and the time to make it happen.
By the end of November he had signed the lease, began the process of deciding on and registering the name of the business, and applied for all the necessary permits to start work. And the space needed a lot of work! It was nothing but drywall and thick coats of white paint on the two large windows, with a rough and uneven concrete floor, and no existing plumbing. But Farzad had a vision of what the shop would look like from the placement of the chairs and sinks (2 of each) to the wood paneling on the walls.
Once we decided on the now signature black and white checkerboard floor, which is something I really wanted, Farzad and his cousin got to work building the shop. They would work on the space after-hours when Farzad finished his days in the shop where he was working at the time and during weekends. They stripped the thick coat of paint from the wood-framed windows, laid the ceramic tiles, installed the wood paneling, painted the walls, and stained the window frames.
The whole process took two months to complete. The bulk of the work (plumbing, electrical, cabinet installation) happened in the second half of January 2006 as there had been some rather stressful and puzzling delays trying to get the strata’s approval to start building. The final inspection was set for the morning of February 6, 2006 and when all was approved Farzad asked the building inspector, “So what’s next?”, the inspector replied, “Start cutting hair!”
What is your favourite part of your job?
The people, hands down! Getting to know all of our clients, learning their stories and interests, and getting to have different conversations every half hour all day long with every person who comes in and sits on the chair. We always say we have the best clients in the world and feel incredibly fortunate to have this little shop and the wonderful people who choose to come here and keep returning!
Complete the following sentence:
“What really makes us unique is…”
Our desire to keep things small and simple! Farzad always imagined having his own shop with two chairs in it, not more, and from the beginning when we opened all we hoped was to be the neighbourhood barber shop — and we were the only barber shop in Yaletown at that time. Noriko is the only other barber in our shop and she has been with us for ten years.
Our clients feel that welcoming family atmosphere when they come in and that is what we want. We don’t do online bookings, just old-fashioned paper and pencil. When clients call to book we recognize their voices on the phone!
It is the three of us; Farzad, Noriko, and myself who make up this little family-run business!
What would you tell someone who is thinking about opening their own business?
Remember why you are doing it and stay true to your own vision. People recognize and appreciate authenticity. It is a lot of hard work but just believe in what you are doing, stay focused, and never give up! Opening up our barber shop eleven and a half years ago is arguably the best decision we have ever made. We are thankful everyday for this little neighbourhood shop and all of our incredible clients and we never take a single moment of it for granted!