Barber brand is a real cut above

Seven years ago brothers Neil and Leroy Smedley had a failing cosmetics business, no staff and just three months of savings left.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 9:13 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 9:21 pm

Now they have a brand, two barber shops, a team of 20, a clothing range and are expanding throughout the north of England.

King Koby Chop Shop was established in the Corn Exchange as a last ditch attempt to make the brothers some money.

But it became so popular they were turning 100 people away each week -leading to them setting up a second shop in Central Arcade which opened a month ago and later this month a third shop opens in York. King Koby has also been working with Denham Clothing Store to create a range of T-shirts, hats, jackets and backpacks which are being sold online and the other plan in the pipeline for this year is to open a King Koby bar too. The change in fortune came when a barber asked the brothers if he could set up in their basement while they sold men’s cosmetics.

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Mr Smedley said: “I had been made redundant and started my own business called Imail selling men’s cosmetics and it didn’t work at all. We had three months left before we were going to be bankrupt and this kid walked in off the street looking for somewhere to cut hair.

“We said no, but then overnight thought, ‘let’s do it’. We spent the rest of the money buying a chair and a sink but used to pay his train fare because we couldn’t afford to pay him.

“That was six years ago and we took on our 20th member of staff before Christmas and do 3,000 haircuts a month.

“It is mind-blowing but we have been very lucky and fortunate and it came about because we had the right people around us. We don’t look at it like a business with employees, we are like a family and that is why it works.”