by Kimberley Cummins
What is the average Barbadian doing at 16 years old? One can assume certainly not launching a business while balancing virtual school during a pandemic and still being focused on a fledgling career as a star athlete.
But this is exactly what Kobie Hutson did last year when on September 14, he opened the doors of his first business venture, Cutta Barbershop at Butler’s Avenue, Spooner’s Hill, St. Michael. And as the business approaches its first anniversary he told Barbados TODAY he had no regrets and it was still one of the best decisions he has made thus far in his life.
Owning a business had always been his dream. One may wonder what a teenager knows about business, for Hutson though he may be young in age he still has some experience under his belt. In fact, he recalled that his working life and thirst to be a business owner began when he was just 11 years old.
At that time, his parents Kenny Hutson and Renee Coppin managed two small hotels.
Every summer, rather than playing video games, running around the neighbourhood with friends, or even getting into mischief as little boys would, his vacation time was spent doing what he loved most, earning money doing odd jobs at the properties.
“Doing the odd jobs down there I would have earned a stipend, so I would save the money over that time and money from Christmases. I was always accused of being cheap because I was never interested in cellphones, I didn’t have one until I was 15, I didn’t have the most expensive bag going to school or the best school shoes so I looked kind of what the people would say is ‘popped down’ going to school,” he said while laughing.
“ . . . But I knew I had another goal for my money. I didn’t know what business I would invest in then but all that money I saved eventually paid off,” Hutson added.
A student of the Christ Church Foundation School, Hutson’s dad suggested the idea of the barbershop and he latched onto it in a hurry.
His initial intent was to use the business to move straight into owning racehorses.
“I felt that the business would be a ticket to get me that but then reality hit me like a big rock and I realised I couldn’t really afford a racehorse based off a new business, especially starting up during a pandemic,” Hudson said.
With additional investment from his younger brother Keene and his parents, along with his grandmothers, Beverley Coppin who volunteers in the capacity of receptionist, and Coreen Hutson who sublets the property to him, the young businessman was able to launch.
The past 12 months have been rough, to say the least; the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic’s second and third waves, as well as lockdowns, have compounded the business environment. Nonetheless, Hutson, who turned 17 in April, and is currently pursuing Management of Business at CAPE, is using the guidance of his parents along with that gleaned indirectly through his lessons at school from MOB teacher Mr. Spencer to weather the storm.
“Things have been slow in that you know it is not easy starting off a new shop especially in these times. We opened in September 2020 and in January we went into that lockdown when we had that second wave of COVID.
“So that really put us back in that some customers would have dropped off, some can’t afford to get their hair cut as regularly, but right now we are building with the help of Blair [barber] and my family.
“I play football, I’m an athlete and I go to school so it’s been hard trying to manage it all but luckily I have a very supportive family and my grandmother Beverley she comes down here every single day religiously even though we try to give her time off . . . .
“So it is not just me and my savings, but it is a collective effort and I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way.
Right now the goal really is to get the shop making a profit every month. We’re far off from that right now but I’m hoping that will happen sometime next year,” he said enthusiastically.
Presently, Hutson has one full-time employee and one part-timer. He said that in spite of his youthful age he is still treated with respect. He credits this for his own respectful nature and his ability to be fair.
His advice for other youngsters who may have a dream but are afraid that they are too young, or won’t be taken seriously was to just do it. He encouraged them to set goals and not allow themselves to be distracted from the target.
“Be disciplined and stay the course because right now they are going to be more bad days than good days. Businesses take time to build, and I know everybody wants everything from that start and instant gratification but my biggest advice to you is just stay the course and hopefully, things will work out.
“During the hard days there will be days when you may get one customer, two customers, or even no customers, but it will work out as long as you put in the effort and don’t allow self-doubt or that of others to overwhelm you,” Hutson stated.
The young man is also a budding footballer and he told Barbados TODAY he wasn’t sure what university he would attend when he completes his secondary education because he was hoping to earn a sports scholarship.
However, he was adamant that because he was desirous of ensuring the sustainability and growth of his business it was his intention to read for a degree in the business field wherever he goes.