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A Literal Cut Above

KTIZO means ‘to create’ in Greek. And KTIZO directors Wayne Richardson and Paul Ganley are creating something very special as the proud owners of Hamilton’s new BarberShopCo store.

Wayne Richardson, co-owner of BarberShopCo Hamilton couldn’t be more delighted with their success. “We’re cranking it”, he says, “we had an awesome first month and we’re already looking to expand. Our customers are saying ‘it’s about time Hamilton had this’… it’s a very cool place to hang out”.

Wayne’s no stranger to industry success or the hard work that sits behind it. As soon as he completed his initial hairdressing training, he recognised that there was more to do. He explains, “I saw the opportunity to specialise in long hair and session styling; fashion, magazine shoots, that sort of thing. I did my advanced trades certificate and then every course I could do in New Zealand.”

He took his craft seriously. “I went overseas for courses and anyone who was anyone who came to New Zealand, I was there too.” L’Oréal Professionnel selected him as a team member for Fashion Week; team leader the following year, and his career took off.

“For 13 years, I travelled in and out of New Zealand working my way up through creative team leader to becoming an Ambassador for L’Oréal Professionnel and delivering education and training. The opportunities were amazing. Big names. Big shows. Huge designers and models. Mind blowing for a country kid.”

But that wasn’t all. Together with fellow director, Paul Ganley, they opened KTIZO, Hamilton’s premier salon and beauty spa in 1996.

“We knew what we wanted from the outset”, he says. “The culture of your traditional salon was boring. We wanted to bring the European experience to our customers… full service, a built-in colour bar, a café culture look and feel.”

“We were the first to have a receptionist locally. We offered espresso and a wine list. We put effort into marketing, professional photographic work and yes, we set out to offer top of the line service for the greater Waikato area.” 

“We created systems and processes to ensure quality at every point of contact. We trained our people in the basics and took them next level in creative skills as they developed. And we’ve been really successful.”

After nine years, the original site was too small. “We bought a two-story building in town and spent colossal amounts of money on a purpose-built fit out. We started noticing a hole in the calibre of students coming through. Not just technical skills but customer service.”

“At one point, I remember being on an industry advisory committee… and I commented that these students didn’t even know how to do a round brush blow wave… and they said yes we’re going to introduce a ‘complex blow waving module’. And I thought, ‘complex’? That’s hairdressing 101!”

“We started negotiating to buy an independent training organisation so we could actively up the standards in the industry. At the same time; through the L’Oréal training we could see the European approach to men’s grooming was starting to take off in New Zealand and toyed with the idea of setting up a high-end barbering service.”

And it was around this time Wayne and Paul met with John and Mark from BarberShopCo. “We knew who they were and we were curious about what they might want with us”, recalls Wayne. “Pretty quickly though, we realised these guys had done their research and knew their stuff.”

“Initially they wanted to know if we were keen on developing an academy and were interested in training barbers. Our first response was, ‘hell yes’. They had the same philosophy as us, the same kind of systems and understanding.”

In the second meeting between the four, something just clicked. “We just looked at each other and went, ‘holy shit, this is good.

This is so good’ John and Mark said, ‘you’d just kill this in Hamilton’. Yeah, we were really interested.”

Wayne says, “BarberShopCo were well resourced and well setup. In 18 months, they’d developed the support systems; accounting, admin, HR… We went to Vegas with them, met with the Auckland store owners and figured we should ride this wave because we’ll get there so much quicker.”

“The 26% of our KTIZO customers who are men come because they want our full-on, high end service. BarberShopCo is about quality systems and practices, spotless hygiene, professionalism and talent, but it’s accessible for all men.”

“It’s also a great space to chill out in. When we finish at KTIZO on a Friday, I’ll grab a box of beer and head over to the BarberShopCo store, hang out with the guys and a have a yarn about the day.”

“What’s very cool is these guys are learning serious skills. They’re so proud they cut hair like that. Clients are saying ‘my hair never felt so good’ and they can say ‘yeah it’s because we’re texturising it’. They’re really empowered”.

“We take the time to train them. We pay them well and give them real careers. It’s been so rewarding so quickly! Our guys can say, ‘here’s the product for you’ and clients know they can trust them. And because of our buying power we can get the best products and do monthly deals.”

And that training organisation they were looking to buy? “Nah”, says Wayne, “we’re better off in-house. That way their capability isn’t capped. We don’t have to undo bad habits, crush dreams and try to re-ignite them on the shop floor.”

“We do get the top students, and sometimes we get a real beauty. However, our best performers are more often than not from the hospitality industry. Truth is, if you’ve got a good work ethic and the right attitude – we can teach you everything.”

KTIZO clients are feeding BarberShopCo as well. “They’re sending their men there. They’re saying it’s professional and hygienic, and they’re telling us they love the BarberShopCo effect on their guys.”

That’s a very special effect and on the back of such a successful launch; we reckon you can take Wayne at his word.