Sheldon Tatchell was born in Eldorado Park, some of Johannesburg’s toughest streets, filled with gangs and massive criminal activity. His story could’ve been the same as most of his peers…..
…..but his father handed him a pair of hair clippers at a young age, this made him resist life of easy money, and instilled in him the importance of earning a living for himself. Over time he built a hair cutting empire out of this.
What began as a side-hustle on the stoep of his cousin’s internet café, has morphed into one of South Africa’s biggest franchises – counting local and global celebrities among its clients including the likes of AKA, Riky Rick, Black Coffee, Kwesta, DJ Fresh, AKA and Usher just to name a few.
By age 32, Sheldon has already opened 50 Legends Barber stores, and created over 420 jobs across 9 Provinces in the country and beyond.
Growing up, Sheldon’s parents wanted him to be a doctor, but fate had other plans. For as long as he can remember, cutting hair has always been that one thing that excited him.
In 2011, Sheldon alongside his friend, decided to give it a try and see where he could take his passion. They started cutting hair on the stoep of his cousin’s internet café in Eldorado Park.
According to Sheldon, he didn’t really see cutting hair as a business but rather, as a way of making some money from something he loved.
When people saw how passionate he was, the buzz followed, and it soon became clear the business was gonna take off to the moon sooner than later.
When he started, he couldn’t really understand why people would queue for his services, while there were 2 other barbershops right across the street where he conducted his business.
Over time, he discovered that he was connecting more with his customers as compared to his competitors.
He came to this realization after he started noting down conversations he had with clients in a notebook, so that the next time they came for a haircut, he could go back to this notebook and follow up on that new car the customer had bought or the girl they had asked for date.
After 4 months on the stoep, they opened their first barbershop store, but that victory was short lived, when Sheldon left his friend to run the business, while he was going to enjoy his honeymoon.
When he returned, the barbershop was closed and the so called business partner friend was avoiding his calls.
This really crushed him and to this day, he recalls the incident as one of the lowest points in his career. He thought it was the end of him, both as a businessman and as a barber.
Luckily for Sheldon, he managed to find a job to keep things floating, while at the same time, finding means to make a comeback.
After closing down, he kept Legends Barber as a side hustle for 2 years, only working with loyal clients who kept calling him for his hair cutting services.
Eventually, he bought a scooter and drove out to people who called him. Sheldon was so dedicated to his side-hustle, that he’d sometimes go as far as 40km by scooter to cut a client’s hair.
This continued for two to three years until 2014, when he decided to take a leap of faith by quitting his job and relaunching his barbershop store.
When he left his corporate job to become a full time barber, his then manager laughed at him and told him that he’ll be back and when that happens, he should give him a call asking for his job back.
Sheldon has never looked back since…..
Once he was back in business, he applied what he learned during his time of struggle. He realized his top clients enjoyed the experience of getting their haircut at home or on the road, so it was only reasonable that he create a mobile barbershop.
“If the scooter worked, why not a van?”…. he thought to himself
The mobile barbershop went wherever the client needed it, and has travelled around the country, delivering fresh cuts everywhere it went.
According to Sheldon, the name ‘Legends Barber’ stems from an old age home, him and his team visit regularly every 2nd week, to cut senior occupants hair.
He then realized he wasn’t cutting regular hair, but hair of legends in his community of Eldorado Park.
After relaunching the barbershop, his 5 year goal was to open five stores in different locations. He didn’t know how he was gonna do that, but believed it would happen nonetheless.
Lighting striked twice and crushed Sheldon’s business dreams once again. He found himself left with one barber, as he was forced to let the other ones go due to their constant theft.
He rose like a Phoenix by finding people with the right mentality and training them to be barbers.
Before opening up for business in every community, the company has training centres, to help train and employ individuals in that particular area.
Covid-19 and its slumber lockdown regulations didn’t stop Sheldon from growing his business. He had to make rent arrangements with landlords and also find ways to pay his workers.
When covid-19 started appearing in scenes, he was already looking beyond the hurdle. When lockdown was implemented, there were 17 stores but now, Legends Barber has 50 stores spreaded across South Africa, Botswana and Lesotho.
His secret to his success?
Sheldon doesn’t want his business to die with him. He wants Legends Barber to outgrow him
“Nobody knows the owner of McDonald’s or Wimpy, but everybody knows the fast-food chains…..says Sheldon
So its important that he always put himself aside and focus on growing the business.