Clippers, Combs, and Conversation
With its traditional striped barbershop poles, motivational stickers on the mirrors, and golden seats that feel more like thrones, it’s clear that True Gents Barbershop is more than just a place to get a great haircut. It’s a place to build a community.
Tenzin Topdhen inherited the business in 2022 after his friend who owned the business sadly passed away. As a proud Tibetan business owner, Tenzin has been able to both preserve his friend’s legacy and continue his journey towards his childhood dream by creating a vision statement that gives a strong purpose to his business. His end goal is to make the Dalai Lama, who he describes as his “Superman,” proud.
Tenzin and Business Link first made a connection back in 2018 when he was competing in VentureQuest, a business pitch competition, at Bow Valley College where he was studying Youth Justice. Originally, Tenzin had ideas of opening a food retail store and worked with Business Link’s team of Business Strategists to learn the ins and outs of running a business. Although the type of business he decided to run has certainly changed, Tenzin still applies what he’s learned from Business Link when it comes to managing True Gents, recounting his early challenges of first tackling the management role he’d jumped into several years ago. But if you ask him, he‘ll tell you that any challenge is a good opportunity to grow and that it is a privilege to struggle.
“Experience is the best teacher.”
For Tenzin, it isn’t so much the type of business he’s running that’s important, but rather whether he’s giving back to the community in a positive way. And that’s what he credits to be his greatest success so far. Having repeat customers is more than just an indication of giving a good haircut. It means that he’s building personal connections with customers in a 1-on-1 setting. After all, everyone’s haircut is a personal choice. Tenzin recounts one experience where he gave a young man a haircut for a first date, and the couple later visited the barber shop to say thank you for helping him land the date!
For others wanting to start their own small business, Tenzin’s advice is to first question what your intention is as a business owner, recommending that you do something authentic and true to who you are, so that you’re excited to get up to go to work in the morning. He also recommends that what you do should also add value to your community, however you define it.
When it comes to inspiring another generation of entrepreneurs, you only need to look at his website to see how he has shared his future vision with the world:
“As True Gents Barbershop grows, I’m going to use as much of the profit as possible to support and foster community dialogue initiatives. Like everyone, I want to contribute to our society the best way that I can. “