The Covid-19 lockdown allowed this barber to style himself with a new business plan

By the age of 21 he owned a growing barbershop business with new product range launches in the works – then Covid-19 shut it all down. But Hohepa 'Hops' Rutene found enforced time out of the business has allowed him to lay a plan for even greater success. He tells his story here.

My barbering journey started four years ago with Bundy Blake at his Boar & Blade barbershops.

He’s a legend in the game and a good mate; I purchased the business off him in 2017 and was soon managing the Wellington and Auckland sites.

We offer a timeless barbering experience set inside characterful industrial buildings, so when a Wynyard Quarter leasing agent got in touch, a CBD site was a natural next step.

After seven months of planning and design, I opened Pakenham Street at the end of 2018 – an area full of corporate clients and with only one other barbershop.

Our staff grew from eight to thirteen, with a great mix of ethnicities; these boys are the reason Boar & Blade has become so successful.

But, always on the lookout for a new and creative angle, in 2019 I decided to launch a range of high-end male hair products, as many we were using didn't quite hit the mark.

I named the company Micky Day and found an amazing manufacturing partner for this journey who helped me create the first product – a handmade hair clay.

In a barbershop, you get to meet people from all walks of life, and I was lucky to meet Josh Heares, who’s become a good friend.

He helped me develop the label design, and is someone I’m in constant contact with, picking his brain on anything to do with design and branding.

So with three barbershops and a new product business, in early 2020 I decided to find a business coach.

Starting a business at 21 meant I didn’t have a lot of hands-on experience and was learning a lot by trial and error.

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