Robert James Jewellers

Grooming for grooms: Canterbury to Folkestone

Canterbury to Folkestone: How a Kent-based business used funding to get a-head: Image 1 After years of working in a barbershop in Soho, London, business owner Bobby Gordon was ready for a change. He wanted to take his experience and do something new with it; and so, 10 years ago, he took on a rundown barbershop in Canterbury and opened Fella. "I saw a gap in the market with the Canterbury shop," says Bobby. "It's a student town so there's plenty of demand. I used what was successful in London and replicated into the Canterbury market. When we opened, I did it alone for one and a half years before taking on more staff." It wasn't long until – in Bobby's words – "the barbering scene blew up", and indeed barbers are now one of the four fastest growing retail categories. Word of Fella spread through the area fast and so the business grew accordingly, with more customers demanding additional staff – and more chairs. But in order to fuel the business' growth, Bobby required funding.

"We were looking to expand and add new chairs to the shop. We spoke to Liberis Finance about their flexible funding solutions and the extra funding meant we could flip the shop over and refit it entirely. We managed to fit another chair in to the shop and, as soon as we had that, things started to get really busy." Besides the additional funding, Bobby puts his business' success down to the use of social media and the engagement of his customers: "We've had a great deal of support via word of mouth and getting involved in the local community. The area has changed dramatically in the last few years, and there are now many independent businesses too. We all want to see each other to succeed, especially along these coastal towns.

"Me and two friends of mine even set up a magazine to share news about all the cool things going on in our area. I've got the small business connections and they've got the knowhow about the media publishing industry. It's great for marketing the barbershop and getting involved with nearby shoots."

Following the brand's success in Canterbury, Bobby decided to open a second barbershop in Folkestone; and later, a weekend popup in Margate. He provides training to apprentices, as part of his staffing plan. There are now five full time barbers in Canterbury and three in Folkestone. Bobby and his team have just completed the basement refurbishment for the Folkestone shop, kitting it out for wedding packages and private bookings.

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