Coming from generations of barbers and hairdressers from Mexico City, Gabriel Flores knew he wanted to own a barbershop since he was 18 years old. After immigrating to the U.S., he finally made that dream come true more than 30 years later, opening Fco. Barbershop, named after his late father Francisco.
Gabriel not only built a barbershop from scratch, but he did so during the pandemic, when materials were more expensive than he could have predicted. On top of the inflated costs, he had to delay the shop’s opening, and he lost previous clients as they moved out of San Francisco.
“During construction, it was very emotional because there were a lot of unknowns,” Gabriel said. “Some days were good. Some days were really bad. But I was doing the right thing and being true to myself.”
Now, Gabriel has a steady stream of loyal clients. With only one chair in the shop, Fco. Barbershop is a one-man operation, and Gabriel does it all: cutting hair, cleaning, completing paperwork, and managing finances to keep the lights on.
Despite the difficulties that came with the pandemic and running the store alone, Gabriel’s positive attitude and passion for his craft keep him going. Below, Gabriel shares words of wisdom for opening a business on your own and staying optimistic despite timing, uncertainty, and adversity.
3 pieces of advice for persevering when starting a business
1. Establish meaningful customer relationships to energize you
“My journey is basically to get to the point where I’m gonna be known as a good haircutter, recognized for what I do, and have happy clients. That’s my goal. At one point, I’m gonna stop cutting hair, and I want people to remember the shop and remember the experiences they had.”
2. Maintain a positive mindset despite challenging circumstances
“There were situations and times where I’m like, ‘What am I doing?’—times where I have cried because I felt defeated, and I felt like, ‘Is it worth it?’ But I think the fact that I believe that it is gonna be a different place, that people are gonna enjoy being here, that’s what keeps me going. I think I still have that trust, that little light in me that says, ‘Just don’t give up. Keep going.’”
3. Never forget your purpose and passion for your work
“I don’t see my work as work. I see my work as an art. Every haircut for me is like a canvas, and I want to make sure that it looks good because that represents who I am.”
Gabriel’s is one of many inspiring business owner stories we’ve featured over the years. Visit our Behind the Business playlist or the Yelp for Business channel on YouTube for more tips, tricks, and insights from entrepreneurs, Yelp employees, and industry experts.
Plus don’t miss all the other stories and small business resources throughout the Yelp Blog.
Photos from Yelp Studios
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