If money is considered "cheese" then I definitely was a mouse chasing it for a long time.
I grew up in hustle culture before it was called "hustle culture" and I honed my skills in the barbershops and hair salons I had worked in. When my time at Mo Betta Cuts ended, I went back to Lords and Ladies salon. I had a clientele that followed me back to the mall, and I had to readjust to the monetary structure at that establishment.
At Mo betta, we were commissioned barbers, and received 50% of our generated income and tips went directly to us, this is an industry standard. Lords and Ladies was a chain that took taxes with a lower commission structure, but high commission on retail sales. After a few months of consistent work and client retention, I had a clash with the manager. She insisted that a client remove her child from the store because he was crying and making a scene while I was booking his mother an appointment. I spoke out against her attitude and showed my disappointment. We got into a back and forth argument. I was appalled by her condescending tone to me and the customer and as a result of that argument I was asked not to come back.
I had options where I could go work, but my ambition and embarrassment led me to entrepreneurship.
I never had aspirations to be a business owner, or obtain a lifestyle where I would be counting every penny and paper towel but that’s what happened.
I took my last paycheck, some money I had saved, and borrowed some money from friends and family to open up my first salon called
Corey Jamal Hair Studio.
I started off with 3 chairs and 3 stations in roughly 400 square feet. I decorated the shop with art from Pier 1 imports and my personal African art collection. I had my first of many trips to Home Depot for materials to renovate the floors, and paint the walls. I enlisted the help from some of my friends to help me do some of the painting and renovations. It was tedious but gratifying work. I was very happy with the results and felt like I had created a space that was comfortable for me to work my best.
It was in no time that I started to grow a bigger clientele, and along with the clientele came more barbers and stylist looking for a place to work. Within 18 months my three chair salon grew to a 6 chair salon that was thriving with business and I wanted to make sure everyone was prosperous and comfortable.
I was making more money than I had ever made and night life and parties started to be a regular thing. I had begun this journey young, sober and hopeful and I was beginning to frequent nightclubs 4 days a week. I started to drink more frequently and my attitude began to shift with challenging situations like staff leaving to pursue other opportunities and conflicts which turned into a walk out on a busy Saturday.
Throughout my frustration with relationships my business continued to grow stayed and the people around me supported my decisions, even when I would find relief on the dance floor and any bar or club that would have me.
I even started to host gatherings in the shop after hours, which was fun, until a few incidents of unwanted guest started to occur.
I guess I’ll leave those stores for another post.
In he midst of all this chaos I thought it would be a good idea to move my shop to a bigger and better location.
I start scouting locations and found a spot 6 blocks away. It was going to be an easy transition. I met with the building management, agreed to terms, gave my deposit and signed a 4 year lease. I was now committed to this new location and its development.
The excitement of a new deal overshadowed the stress that was I feeling deep below the surface and although my clientele and friends encouraged me, I was afriad of failing.
I would finish work at the main location and walk 6 blocks to the next location and do renovations of the space until the early hours of the night.
One night as I was making my trek down Main st. I kicked a paper bag that was on the sidewalk. The bad didn’t fly into the air like expected, instead it flipped over and landed heavy. My curiosity spiked and I went over to the bag and poked with my foot and then cautiously peeled back the paper bag to discover a large package of drugs that someone had lost.
I thought to myself, " shit, it’s my lucky night, this could finance all of my renovations and supplement my income"
It would do way more than that, it would start me down a path of madness.