Alex: Hey Hohepa, can you give our audience a brief intro about yourself, where are you based and what do you do?
Hohepa: My names Hohepa but my mates call me “Hops”. I grew up in a small town called Masterton where everyone knows everyone. I’ve been a barber for four years and the owner of Boar and blade for the last two. I started as a hairdresser at the age of 17 before moving to Wellington then Auckland to eventually take over Boar & Blade from my friend and founder Brendan Blake.
Alex: What made you first decide to become a barber? What were some of those first moments of realisation that made you so passionate?
Hohepa: The hair salon I worked in’s clientele was majority female. When I had the chance to cut and style male clients I knew my passion laid with creating them a new look rather than with hairdressing; seeing them happy with their cut made the job that much better.
“We put a huge focus on creating great report with our customers so when they come into store it’s like catching up with a friend over a beer rather than just a haircut.” – Hohepa Rutene
Alex: Boar and Blade has three locations, Egmont St, Wellington, Ponsonby Central, Auckland and Wynyard Central, Auckland. First of all, congratulations on your success. What do you think are the key drivers that made your barbershop so popular in NZ?
Hohepa: We have such an amazing team which creates a super friendly atmosphere within our store. We try cater to everyone and make the shop as homely as possible. We put a huge focus on creating great report with our customers so when they come into store it’s like catching up with a friend over a beer rather than just a haircut.
Alex: Who are the people and what are the brands that inspired you to become a talented barber?
Hohepa: There are tons of amazing barbers from around the globe and in New Zealand. From Ruger barbers to Menspire over in the UK; but I find the biggest inspiration comes from the boys I get to work with every day. We are always learning off of each other as everyone has their own personal style.
Alex: What are you most proud of about your barbershops?
Hohepa: The team and clientele we have. It makes going to work a breeze.
Alex: What was the hardest or most challenging thing you had to overcome personally to get to where you are today?
Hohepa: It has been an ongoing learning curve to realise how important it is to have a key focus to keep you on track. With owning a business there are some great high points but these are paired with many set backs – it’s been really important to learn how to keep pushing forward and overcome hurdles.
Alex: What have been the major highlights for Boar and Blade since it was founded in 2013?
Hohepa: Opening two shops in Auckland and becoming a house hold name in both Auckland and Wellington. Also the all the people I’ve had the chance to work with and talk to while working at Boar and Blade.
Alex: What does the future hold for Boar and Blade? What are some of the things we should be excited about?
Hohepa: Having shops in three prime locations is our starting point for creating more connections with locals. There’s a new wave of Boar and Blade barbers coming through – we’re going to continue to give you Auckland and Wellington’s best barbers. And maybe a new shop one day…. who knows!
“Trust your gut. Make a plan and stick with it. When the going gets tough keep pushing on, it’ll all become worth it.” – Hohepa Rutene
Alex: What is your advice for an aspiring NZ entrepreneur? Anything they should know?
Hohepa: Trust your gut. Make a plan and stick with it. When the going gets tough keep pushing on, it’ll all become worth it.