Interview with Birju Patel President, Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids


Jul 15, 2009

Franchising has been a long time coming for Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids President, Birju Patel. Growing up in a family-owned business, he learned first-hand what it takes to have an idea, grow it and nurture it to success. It is here he developed his passion to help people in business and where he first decided he would one day go into business himself.

Many years later, after taking his young 18-month old daughter for her first haircut at an adult salon…and having her cry the entire time because she was scared…he knew there had to be a better way AND that there must be other parents who have had the same experience. A hair salon dedicated to children was the answer! A children’s hair salon that provided Glamour Girl birthday parties and offered novelty and specialty retail items was the perfect answer!

The combination of a solid business idea AND with his enjoyment for helping people get into business for themselves, lends itself to Birju thoroughly enjoying his work with each of the current Canadian Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids franchisees and future ones to come.

BeTheBoss - What is the Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids franchise opportunity all about?

Birju Patel - The overall Sharkey’s concept is about having fun…and providing an experience for our young customers and their parents. With fun chairs, TVs and video games all enjoyed while having a haircut – how can we go wrong? And in addition to the haircut experience, Sharkey’s also offers Glamour Girl birthday parties, in a separate party room. Our Glamour Parties “rock” as the girls end up looking like princesses or rock stars…whatever their heart desires!

BTB - Who is your ideal candidate for Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids franchise?

BP - Sharkey’s franchisees come from all facets of life, but they have one thing in common – they love children! Of course, strong people skills and the ability to multi-task are important, but there is no need to be a hairstylist or have a retail background to make this business a success!

BTB - What type of training and support do you offer?

BP - From pre-opening, hiring, leases and the many details involved in opening a business, to in-store training, our franchisees have found our practical training program to be the best way to “get their feet wet” prior to opening their own doors. And the support doesn’t end there. At Sharkey’s we believe in continuing to support our franchisees because we are passionate about helping people succeed in their business.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids franchisee?

BP - Kids! A business for kids is not only fun to own and work-in, but it is an area that will continue to have customers, as families continue. Our business is also a service that parents don’t readily cut back on during various economic times….you know the old saying “anything for the kids”!

BTB - Are you a member of any Associations?

BP - Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids is a proud member of the Canadian Franchise Association.

BTB - Tell us a little about the hair salon industry?

BP - The hair salon industry in Canada is a multi-billion dollar business, as it is a service that most Canadians need. Adult salons, by nature, are calm, relaxing and low-key environments….its where adults go to “escape”. For kids…this can be summed up as boring! A kid-friendly salon with a high-energy and fun atmosphere that provides quality haircuts at a reasonable price is needed. The concept is gaining momentum in Canada and Sharkey’s in on the cutting edge.

BTB - How successful is your company today and what are your future growth plans?

BP - The first Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids was opened in Cos Cob, Connecticut in 2002 and since then has continued to have fast growth across all of the U.S. The first Canadian Sharkey’s opened its doors in August 2007 and has experienced success right from the beginning in both the haircut and party aspects of the business. Since the first salon opened, 7 more franchisees have joined the Sharkey’s team nationally, with 7 more pending in the coming year.

BTB - What are your franchisees saying about the business?

BP - Sharkey’s franchises truly have fun in their business. While enjoying a relatively quick start toward profitability, they often express how fortunate they feel at the work-life balance they have achieved, despite owning their own business. Many franchisees have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly they have become ingrained in their local community and are able to support local initiatives within their community. Our franchisees receive tremendous personal and professional satisfaction from operating a Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?

BP - Be sure to do your research. Research the industry, the business, the franchisor, etc. Once armed with the right information, decisions become easier to make and your comfort level will be higher because there are less unknowns.
And be ready to work hard. Nothing in life worth enjoying comes easy…but if you are ready to work hard and you believe in your business…you can be successful while having fun!

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids would be a great opportunity for someone?

BP - Parents, especially moms, are challenged today more than ever with the stresses of work and family. Often I speak with couples that say: if we could just find a business that will allow us to grow our wealth and spend moretime with my children, that would be the perfect business. Well, my wife Laura and I said the same thing for years until we found Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids, where we have achieved both. For individuals looking at various franchise opportunities, they have to ask themselves “why”. Why do they want to operate their own franchise? If enjoying what they do and ensuring a balanced quality of life (of course while making money) is in the response, then Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids is an opportunity they should research more! We want families across Canada to experience the same success and gratification our family has in operating a Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids.