Cut the Crab:
Just do what
Looking for a unique barbershop experience? Look no further than Cut the Crab, owned by Nina Bossina, a barbershop located in a converted shed on the island of Terschelling in the Netherlands. Nina fell in love with the barbershop scene after watching a documentary about the well-known barbershop Schorum in Rotterdam and decided to pursue a career in the field. In this interview, Nina shares her experiences in becoming a barber, starting her own business, and using Vev to simplify the booking process for her clients. Read on to learn more about Nina's journey and her approach to being an entrepreneur.
How did you come up with the idea of becoming a barber?
In 2014, there was a documentary about Schorem in Rotterdam. They really embodied the typical style of "tough men with tattoos, a glass of whiskey during the haircut, and women were not allowed inside back then." Now, they are one of the most famous barbers in the world. When I saw that, I thought to myself, "Oh, damn, why am I not a man?" After that, I didn't really think about it again until a friend of mine grew a huge beard and didn't do anything with it. That's when my hands started itching. During the COVID-19 pandemic, all the hairdressers were forced to close, and there were a lot of interviews on TV, including one with a female barber. That's when I started cutting my friend's hair, and I actually really enjoyed it. That's how it all started, and eventually, I enrolled in the Barber School in Amsterdam.
What sort of education is that?
Starting out was a real investment. The course cost €4000, so it wasn't cheap. But during the course, I really learned a lot about starting my own business. We had to practice on models, and I would ask them, "Would you be willing to let me cut your hair?" I did it for free, but they could pay me what they thought was fair. That gave me an idea of what people were willing to pay for a cut. Plus, I got a complete set of scissors, combs, and everything else I needed. Well, not everything. For example, I didn't get paper neck collars, so I used toilet paper instead. Everyone laughed so much in the course that they started calling me the MacGyver Barber.
“I didn't get paper neck collars, so I used toilet paper instead. ”
Where is your chair located?
I transformed my shed into a barbershop. I always laugh when people come here because if you look in one direction, you see a barbershop, but in the other direction, it's just a shed where our washing machine is located. People always find that really cool.
“Clients find it really easy to book an appointment ”
And is it now the full experience with whiskey?
Yes, I have coffee, and I have a beer for the afternoon, but that's where I want to go. I think you need a liquor license for that. I still have to figure that out. I'm doing this part-time anyway. I work in the kitchen at a beach tent to maintain my social contacts. I like having colleagues, just chatting and teasing each other. You can do that in the barber's chair too, but it's different from the hospitality industry. Plus, I'm a little scared to focus on this entirely. I'm just starting out, and I can't say, "I'm okay as a barber," but I have to say, "I'm the best at cutting your hair." That's what makes me nervous.
“I can't say, "I'm okay as a barber," but I have to say, "I'm the best at cutting your hair." That's what makes me nervous. ”
How do you deal with the idea of presenting yourself as a professional when you don't have much experience?
Those are the doubts you always have. As time goes on, I'm getting better at it. My motto during the course was always, "Shit your pants and keep going." It's just waiting for a f*ck-it moment and then just doing it. So, one of my first customers was someone who was waiting on the ferry. At the time, I was a stewardess on the ferry, and that guy had a really long man-bun that had grown over his ears. So, I just sat next to him and asked if I could cut his hair. He loved it so much that he still comes back.
How do you find your customers?
You would think I had planned this beforehand, but I didn't. On Terschelling, there is a nautical school, and I think about 80% of the students are men. So, I expect to get a lot of customers from there. For now, I mostly have customers from the hospitality industry that I know through friends. Also, people on the island still don't quite understand what a barber is. Men think you have to have a beard for that. That's not the case, of course. So, I advertised in the local newspaper with the slogan "Barbershop: CUT THE CRAB, not just for men with beards." I hope that clarifies the concept of "barber" on the island.
Also, I try to be creative with advertising. There are a lot of events on the island. For example, there's “Rock and Roll Street”, a festival where you have the classic pompadours. I hope to be there soon with my barber chair. Last year, I started small during "Oerol”, the biggest and most famous festival on the island. I started by cutting hair in a friend's bar during the festival, which was also great fun. This year, I'll be standing in that bar again, but on the terrace when the weather is nice.
I remember the first time someone booked through my Vev link without me knowing who it was. I was so excited that my boyfriend and I kind of stalked him on Instagram to see what his hairstyle was and what I could do with it. That's when my control freak side came out. If I don't know what kind of hairstyle I'm getting, I find it very nerve-wracking. But, in the end, everything always turns out okay, and that moment is always exciting.
What have you learned from being an entrepreneur?
I think mainly just doing things without thinking too much and planning. Also, that you just have to be open and honest. You can't know everything beforehand, and sometimes you come across a weird cowlick, for example, that you hadn't seen before. If you just tell the customer honestly and say they can come back if they notice anything strange themselves, people can only appreciate that. Plus, a lot of practical things like doing my own accounting for the first time.
“I always send the Vev link so that they can easily make an appointment ”
How did you hear about Vev?
I followed The Baardgaard, an Instagram profile, for a while, and they took the exam at the same time as me. When I looked at their profile, I saw a link to their Vev store and it looked so good. So, I looked further and saw that I could easily create my own shop for free. I didn't have to fill in a lot of information beforehand. So, it was very easy to start. That's something I often hear from people sitting in the barber's chair, too. They find it really easy to make an appointment.
How do you use Vev yourself?
Some people come to my link through Instagram. But a lot of people hear that I'm a barber through word of mouth. Then they send me or my friend a message, and I always send the Vev link so that they can easily make an appointment. I use it as my calendar now. It's super easy! Before, everyone would call and message me, and I would get really frustrated and accidentally double-book.
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