Hip-hop and kwaito tunes boom out of a grey brick building with graffiti-splashed walls and a zinc roof. A red, white and blue barber’s pole outside is a dead giveaway of what lies behind these walls – Legends Barbershop.
We’re in Zone 6 in Soweto, where 27-year-old entrepreneur Sheldon Tatchell, has just opened his third barber shop in two years.
Three barber shops in 2 years
Sheldon’s journey started where he grew up, on the stoop at the flats in Eldorado Park when he was 14 years old. This is when he first picked up a hair clipper and started giving his friends haircuts.
And in 2011 he officially got into the hair-cutting business with a partner, but after a year, problems arose within the partnership and the business had to be closed.
Sheldon re-opened the barbershop in 2014 with outlets in Eldorado Park, Florida and the latest in Zone 6, Soweto, this time going at it alone. With a starting price of R70 for close shaves to intricate designs and fades that are “in a naat” (precise). Legends has attracted quite a following with an average of 800 haircuts at each store per month. The business is thriving and employs 12 young barbers working from three venues with a mobile service to boot.
At the beginning, the business was not without its challenges as three of the barbers employed at the time were addicted to drugs. Sheldon made the executive decision to let them go in order for the business to survive. Now the team is involved in a drug awareness campaign, working hand in hand with drug rehabilitation centres. “We offer patients weekly haircuts because we believe that if you look good you do good, and we would just like to help where we can.” he says.
Legends barbershop is attracting celeb clients
Celebrities like Reason, Loot Love, J’Something and Riky Rick are just some of the people who trust Sheldon with their hair. They have all made return visits to the barbershop and frequently post images on their social media pages. “Fade fresher than your boyfriend’s. Shoutout to Sheldon for coming through and doing best” said Loot Love on her Instagram page.
His first celebrity client was soccer player Kermit Erasmus who played for Orlando Pirates. In September 2015 Kermit saw the barbershop on Instagram and contacted Sheldon to see if he was willing to give 8 players on the team a fresh cut. This was the business’ first major client and it was a humbling and exciting experience.
Kermit now plays soccer in Paris and Sheldon hopes to one day fly abroad to cut his hair.It’s ironic how life works out because he recalls the days when his team would wait outside different soccer camps and the security would tell them that they couldn’t see the players.
Legends Barbershop is also working on a barber academy that will offer in-house training and a job as a barber at the end of the course. “We want to help the youth and create employment because it seems as though there is no hope for them. We want to give them a helping hand and show them that life does have a purpose,” says Sheldon.
Photography: Tiisetso Moloi