In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.

Ye Olde Chop Bloc—a business that grew out of a friendship, and an opportunity that fell at a convenient time.

Jeffrey Minhinnick and Travis Murphy had always wanted to start their own business, and at the time, they were looking for something they could do together as friends. When a barber shop closed next to their favourite bar after 30 years in business, this is when they had their “ah-ha” moment and jumped at the opportunity. Ye Olde Chop Bloc was born in Terrace, British Columbia. “We wanted to bring back the tradition of the neighborhood barber shop, but with a modern vibe,” Jeffrey explained. “We wanted to build a business that we would want to go to, and it was a lot easier to design a concept when we were already the target demographic.”

Noticing that there were already plenty of great salons in town for women, Jeffrey and Travis felt that men didn’t really have a place of their own. With the popularity in shows like Mad Men, there was a clear trend of men paying more attention to their hair and beards, and these two friends wanted to bring that bigger city vibe to their small town of Terrace.

Building their business, like most entrepreneurs, didn’t necessarily come easy. Jeffrey and Travis were passionate about their idea, but there were many learning curves along their journey before opening. “The biggest lesson we learned before opening was how to overcome the pitfalls of starting your own business,” Minhinnick shared. “Neither of us had a traditional business education, but we worked through all the problems together.” Small details like business name registry or tax remittances were things that these two new entrepreneurs didn’t think about at first. “Once we were up and running, the biggest issue had been staffing,” Jeffrey explains. “Finding more staff that fit our brand and want to barber isn’t the easiest thing to do in small towns like Terrace.”

Jeffrey and Travis also competed with their business to win a cash prize to grow their business at the ThriveNorth Business Challenge in March. From the Business Challenge they benefitted from the opportunity to network with other young entrepreneurs, and the friendly support of the ThriveNorth team. Jeff explained that it was a great feeling knowing that they had learned so much from the event and from each other. The duo placed as a runner up for the Best Business Expansion Opportunity—an award for a business that was looking to grow through increased staff, new locations or new products and/or services.

The barber shop duo hope to grow Ye Olde Chop Bloc in the next year by adding one or two more barbers to be able to have their chairs full all day long. They also hope to move forward with their mobile barbershop idea and be able to service the northwest and camps that will be coming to their area. Jeff left one piece of advice for entrepreneurs wanting to start a business in BC: “Build your team and work with people you believe in and who believe in you. We dove into a business we didn’t know very much about, but if you have the motivation and drive you can become a very quick study.”

Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada

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