We had the good fortune of connecting with Clint Schmal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Clint, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Independence & creating opportunity were the most important factors in starting my own business. When I started in Barbering, I listened to the needs of my clients and felt there were voids I could fill in how the industry catered to today’s patron. When you work for someone else, it can be hard to implement ideas you feel very strongly about. I wanted the independence to do so. I also wanted to create positions for others. Whether it’s another Barber looking for a place to cut, or a barista in our forthcoming Cafe. Going through Barber School was scary at times and if I could lend a hand to someone in that position through apprenticeship, that would be cool, too.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think the most exciting part of becoming a business owner, is being able to share the process with my kids. I left the web design industry about 7 years ago to start Barber school. I cleaned pools with my step-dad for income. I was very honest with my kids about the transition. When I was in music, I was lucky enough to open for & get a chance to meet one of my favorite artist’s (rapper named Sean Price), and I got a chance to converse with him after the show. I told him I was struggling trying to balance music, a 9-5 job and starting a business. He told me the worst thing I could do as a parent, is to give up on my dreams. I believe that more than ever now. The biggest impact I feel I’ve had is showing my kids that with follow through, you can achieve anything. The independence has changed our lives and I know they’re proud of me for chasing it. The process was not easy. Barber School was a nightmare in the begging. I wasn’t naturally good at cutting hair and I struggled with the social part. I had a big picture mindset and I believed in myself, but I’d be lying if I didn’t consider quitting. This is where I learned what having faith meant. Faith is a belief that you can carry with you through the toughest of moments. Even after graduating school, I still struggled. I cleaned pools part time my first two years of Barbering. Even once I built a clientele at my first shop, I knew I was going to have to take a risk if I wanted my own business. I left my first shop and moved about 15 miles north of where I was, in the middle of the Summer (notoriously slow for Barbers). That Summer was rough. Some days I had one haircut on the books. Some days I had 8 hour gaps between haircuts. I delivered food with UberEats until midnight almost every night. The sacrifices are a lot easier to make when you keep the big picture in mind and have faith in what it is you’re trying to do. When the thought of quitting gets heavy, that’s usually when you’re the closest to growth. If you don’t give up, the next step is elevation.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
That’s a good question! With everything being shut down or limited due to Covid, that would be challenging. I’m going to pretend like that’s not a thing and give a run down of where I would take someone under normal circumstances. Food – Outside of cutting hair and being with my family, my favorite thing to do is eat. I would have to include a visit to either the downtown Phoenix or Tempe location of Green (Vegan comfort food). I just finished having lunch there! haha. You have to try the East Coast fries, the BFF (breaded fried “chicken”) and one of their vegan ice creams. I also love that they sell Zevias (my favorite soda, soon to be available in our cafe). The Coronado in Downtown Phoenix is one of my favorites. Lot of healthier and not so healthy options. The outside patio is a beautiful place to eat in the non-Summer months. Since I live in Tempe and the shop is located here, we’d have to walk to one of the Cornish Pasty’s close by. I’m basically right in the middle of two of them. Easily explained, a pasty is an English hot-pocket looking thing filled with a bunch of options. Anything you can think of, down to peanut butter and jelly, is served in this thing. Lastly on food, if my friend is traveling from a place that doesn’t have good Mexican food, we’re going to Poncho’s in South Phoenix. If you know, you know. Other things to do – Hopefully my friend’s trip would land during the first Friday of the month. First Friday’s in Downtown Phoenix is always an experience. Mainly an art walk, you can take in the sights of a number of local artists’ paintings, you can purchase items from local vendors and also eat from a bunch of food trucks. My kids and I used to attend every month before everything shut down. Always live music. Good place to walk around and people watch. While talking about Downtown Phoenix, you have to stop by Cobra Arcade (arcade and bar) if you’re into old video games. I’m not good at a lot of the new games that the kids are playing, but I’m not bad at NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat (so far we have a Mortal Kombat arcade game in the Barber Shop, looking to add the NBA Jam one soon!). Cobra also has Frogger! I’d have to take my friend for a hike. “A” Mountain in Downtown Tempe is good for a warm up hike before a workout, I really enjoy the Echo Canyon trail at Camelback Mountain if I’m looking for a challenging hike and Piestewa Peak for a night hike. If we have time to get out of the city — my favorite place in Arizona is Flagstaff. I could write an entire list on things to do up north, but if we only had a week, we’d have to spend a day hiking at Humphrey’s Peak, getting a cortado at Firecreek Coffee Company or staying the night at the Hotel Monte Vista (supposedly haunted, I’ve never seen any ghost there, though). If we go up to Flagstaff, I’d have to recommend a trip to Jerome on the way back (I have seen ghost there). Jerome is cool because as you walk through the town, you’re basically walking up a mountain, so it’s a good work out. Vaqueros Grill is really good Mexican food and the Haunted Hamburger has a legendary carrot cake. Basketball is something I love dearly, so before we leave, we have to shoot hoops at the basketball court located in the main parking lot.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to recognize a group of Barbers/Stylists that taught me something along the way: Ray DeCandia (a ton about cutting & about the business), Tawni & Chad Bare (for giving me my first opportunity and saying ‘no’ to every idea I had), Chino Blends! (clipper over comb.. you were there when I wanted to quit), Chiiiiiiiicky Stines (you were there when I wanted to quit), Caren Trahan (you were the best company in the studios, I’m taking a class one day), Matthew Martin (you pushed me and you are brilliant), Rob from Reuzel (your words haven’t left me) and everyone else who said an idea wouldn’t work. Some of them didn’t and I became better because of it.