I am so thankful and excited to share this interview with you today. I got to virtually interview The Hairsmiths - a husband-and-wife barber team in Carlisle, PA - who are also my aunt and uncle. Their names are Bernie and Carol Smith - so obviously The Hairsmiths is an awesome business name.
When I was young, we would take the 2-hour journey to visit them. I remember asking about the barber pole out front, getting my hair cut off and overhearing discussions about how I hated to bath (which my aunt reassured my mom that that would change - and oh, it has). I remember learning about plants (my aunt has a superior green thumb), laughing with family (even when I was too young to understand the jokes) and eating incredible brownies (a love of sugar is in my genes).
Overall, their humility has floored me. They keep their business going, but always have time for family. They’re amazing people and I hope you enjoy gleaning wisdom and getting to know them through this interview.
How many years have you run your own business?
We have been in business together for forty years and married for forty-one years. We have been partners in all senses of the word for forty-one years. After a year of marriage, Bernie realized he wanted to get out of the army to start a business of his own. So we did an inventory of our strengths and weaknesses, what we liked to do and what we didn't want to do.
What has been the most valuable lesson you've learned in that time?
One of the big lessons, we have learned starting our own business, is not to be discouraged by people telling you it can't be done. Welcome positive advice but take negative comments with a grain of salt. It's amazing how many people will try to discourage you, from making positive changes in your life, with gloom and doom stories or comments.
What is something I'd be surprised to know about your experience in business?
You may or may not be surprised to know that neither one of us is too fond of social situations. Probably the biggest similarity between us is our shyness around other people. Sometimes after a busy day we are both exhausted from dealing with so many different personalities and want to be alone and regroup.
What was something that concerned you in business, but now feel like it wasn't worth the worry?
Failure was one thing we shouldn't have worried about. One does what one must to pay the bills.
Where did you find your motivation to stay in it when times were hard?
Motivation comes from having a goal to work toward. Our goal in life has always been to nurture our love for each other, our children and our grandchildren. It's not hard to get motivated when your labors help the ones you love have a better life.
They're so selflessly humble, right? I love how they use business as a tool to serve people in their lives instead of making business their lives. Your business doesn't have to consume you.
We can love and serve others with what we have. We just have to be careful not to make it about us.