In our next choppin' it up session, we connect with 6City brands founder and entrepreneur, Nate Johnson, a former fintech engineer turned barber and business owner. Big up!
Nate, originally from the Bahamas, was making moves in the finance industry before deciding to leave his job and shift his vision towards building his own serious hustle–here's what he had to say.
To get things started, could you give our audience a brief intro, and discuss how you went from working in tech to transitioning into barbering?
West Island Family, my name is Nathan Johnson, most of my friends call me Nate. I am an entrepreneur, barber, software engineer, and proud founder of 6City Barbershop Inc.
I was born and educated in Nassau, Bahamas until I went to Halifax, NS to complete a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Dalhousie University in 2009. I worked on numerous large projects for banks creating technical solutions for their apps, websites, and financial systems...and I plan to do more of it!
Cutting hair through university and while working as a fintech engineer in Toronto, I constantly envisioned creating what is now 6City Barbershop. I love barbering and the industry, as it allows for so much more opportunities to be communal and creative–even with technology!
Considering the year we're having, what are three words that come to mind when you think about 2020 thus far?
Unpredictable, rebellious and awakening.
Word, it's been all of the above and then some, no doubt.
As an entrepreneur yourself, it must have drastically affected how you move and adapt as a business. Considering our current state in Canada with the pandemic–how are things affecting your business?
This year has been wild so far, and it has affected business a lot!
Business has definitely taken a hit, and I know my business is not alone. The impacts of COVID-19 have been, and continue to cripple economic gains and increase health and safety concerns. Ironically, we’ve decided to take risks and expand by taking advantage of shifts in the real estate market. Luckily, hair keeps growing so we just have to hold on and push through.
I know you recently moved into a new location on King Street West, how’s the new spot and neighbourhood? From what I've seen so far it's looking nice!
Thank you brother! It is really our dream location, we couldn’t have found a better space on such a prime street nested between Toronto’s premium nightlife spots and awesome communal condos and parks. I was also able to add a cafe into the mix! It’s a separate venture under the 6City brand that I’m excited to introduce - Bahamian inspired coffees, smoothies, and cocktails is all I’m allowed to say for now.
I really like how you support the community with the events you hold throughout the year. Could you tell us about your business’s evolution and why it’s important to support the community around you?
One of the major aspects of the 6City brand is community, and in Toronto the community feels so spread out at times. So it’s only right that places like barbershops, which are traditionally locations that bring all sorts of people under one roof, do things to bring people together.
Being from the Bahamas (they party a lot!) it’s only right I create events for people to share, laugh, eat, and drink–and of course ensure everyone gets home safely.
I’ve met so many different people and heard so many stories by cutting hair...I felt others would really benefit from these stories. So we started an event series called 6City Talk Shop where we invite special guests to tell their story and instigate conversation among attendees on crucial topics such as career building, personal growth, and even dating and relationships.
As a young business owner in Toronto, and reflecting on the issues that have been happening in the U.S with Black Lives Matter and the support its gotten around the world, how are you absorbing this moment in history?
The things I've seen are things that generate good feelings, but they do activate my thoughts of our current realities. I watch closely, hoping each day that good continues to prevail, and that we all get stronger, wiser and come together.
If there is one piece of advice you can give to someone whether it be in life, business, entrepreneurship what would it be?
That your perception of yourself and how you respond to things will matter the most in finding success and being happy. Not everything has to play out the way you plan it for it to work, but being positive at all times and doing the most you can with what you have, will always lead to good things in time.
And I’m sure our audience would like to know, what’s your go-to daily grooming essential? You know something that’s a must for you on the regular.
My skin needs that liquid African Black Soap!!!
For more West Island Co. content make sure to hit us up below—until next time ya'll!