From starting a law degree to owning a barber’s shop, Kyle Ross of Huntsman in Aberdeen talks to BQ about his career so far and where he plans to go from here.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
As managing director of Huntsman, I do a bit of everything. Obviously as we are a barber, I spend a lot of time cutting hair, but my main role is to ensure the smooth operation of the company, whether it be managing staff or carrying our business administration. Being your own boss means you get involved in all aspects of the business, and my job doesn’t stop when the shop closes, continuing into most evenings and weekends.
What is it the company does?
I established Huntsman in the West End of Aberdeen in November 2016, to offer a wide range of services for the modern-day man, including everything from precision cutting, hot towel shaving, beard trimming and styling, to massage treatments and waxing.
We also provide in-depth consultations to our customers, allowing them to decide on the cut and style that will best suit their face shape and hair type.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
We are a small team at Huntsman, so for me finding the balance between being the boss and having a friendship with my staff is important. In my environment it is better for me to manage the team individually and adjust the way I interact with each employee. It is important to work with my team on different levels, and remember that they have a home life too, so if I can help with different situations I will.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
For me, balancing my home and work life is a real challenge. I have a two-year-old son and due to the long hours I have to work, it often means that I don’t see him for days at a time as he is still in bed when I leave and when I get home in the evening. Having to sacrifice things in favour of work, like social events with family and friends, is also hard but the business comes first.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
When I am not at work I try to switch off as much as possible and take myself away. I find that if I am off and stay in the city, then I will always go to work, so need to get away – the further the better!
I try to keep active and exercise, but it can be difficult when I work such long hours.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It sounds funny, but I always said I wanted a job where I had to wear a suit, in a profession like a lawyer or solicitor, which I think was influenced by TV. I left school with a decent number of Highers, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I actually started a law degree, but knew it wasn’t the right career for me after six months.
Any pet hates in the workplace?
As we are such a close team, I don’t have any pet hates!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I am not one for planning so far ahead, and instead prefer to react to circumstance. It has always been my intention to build Huntsman as a brand, and then see what the options
are. I could possibly open a franchise, and if I had a manager in place I could open a second shop, which they would run for me. Whatever decision I make in five years will also depend on the state of the economy at the time.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I would tell them to expect the worst. No matter how hard you think establishing a business is going to be, you have to remember that it is going to be even harder. With this in mind, mentally preparing yourself for the highs and lows, and the high stress levels, is really important. You also need to prepare yourself for having no spare time - owning your own business takes over your life and almost becomes an obsession!
Where did you start your career?
Studying law at University, followed by working in a property department! Obviously, I soon moved into the world of hairdressing.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.
I started a law degree, and soon realised this wasn’t for me, and went to work at a property department, which I enjoyed as I wasn’t stuck in an office. I don’t see dropping out of my law course as a negative, as I have managed to draw on various aspects and use it in my business. I soon realised that I wanted to get into hairdressing, and a week after making the decision I started an apprenticeship with a salon in Aberdeen’s west end. Once I qualified, I went on to work at a number of salons in Aberdeen as an employee, building my skillset, confidence and client base, before I became self- employed, renting my own space within premises.
I did this for four years, before making the decision to open Huntsman. We celebrated turning one in November 2017, and I’ve been told if you can survive your first year in business, you can survive pretty much anything!
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