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Founder Fridays: Mr. Bee

by Ben LeBlanc October 02, 2016

Founder Fridays: Mr. Bee

The only thing that might be better than a great bowl of soup is a great hair day. I turn to Chef Santos for the soup, and to Mr. Bee for the hair. 

Mr. Bee, of Frank’s Chop Shop, has been my barber since 2008. He’s an awesome dude and one of the most talented guys I know. On top of being a skilled barber, Bee is also a great musician, painter, skateboarder, music historian, and listener. He and Mike have built an amazing brand. It’s hard for me to put into words what a great place Frank’s is. When you first walk in, the first thing that hits you is “Wow, this is a cool shop.” From the barbers to the customers to the art on the wall, the coolness is almost intimidating. But you look around and soon realize what a great community they’ve built. During any given haircut, you might see rappers, actors, college kids, hipsters, finance dudes, punk rockers, artists, old men, and more. People of all races, nationalities, religions, and walks of life. And EVERYONE is welcomed and treated the same exact way at Frank’s. That’s due in large part to Bee, who cofounded the shop a little over 10 years ago.

Soon after my first haircut with Bee, our relationship evolved, and he became a friend, confidant, and advisor. He gave me advice and support when I was initially kicking around the idea of starting a soup company. His enthusiasm for the idea and encouragement made me think that we were onto something. There are many things I’ve learned from Bee and Frank’s over the years that I am trying to bring to Good Stock. A dedicated commitment to craft. Treating customers with care and respect. Not taking yourself too seriously. Respect the old school and traditions, but don’t be afraid to push forward too. So I’m super stoked to let Bee share more of his story with all of you.

Why did you start Frank’s Chop Shop?

I started Frank's Chop Shop with my partner Mike Malbon as an extension of a lifestyle magazine called FRANK 151. It functioned as a flagship but quickly became its own entity and hub for downtown barber culture.

What is the most important thing you learned?

Consistency is the key to success. And if you believe in your product, you must be your biggest fan. 

What would you have done differently in hindsight?

I wouldn't change a thing. Every high and low has been equally appreciated and a lesson.

Tell me about a great customer story or anecdote.

Everyday I'm lucky enough to witness the most unique perspectives of my surroundings, but a particular situation is Jake Gyllenhaal doing a walk-in and no one on the team recognized him. He was getting his balls busted and everything. A customer soon recognized him - as Toby McGuire haaaaaaa! Needless to say he cleared the air as to who he was and everyone told him they never heard of him. He loved it!

What is a challenge you didn’t foresee? 

I didn't foresee was the constant turn over you deal with after a decade in business. Keeping the team on point takes a lot of training.

Tell me about your first “Oh shit!” moment. 

My first oh shit moment was cutting the majority of WU TANG CLAN. They are my favorite hip hop group

What would you tell someone else starting out in your industry?

I would tell them to appreciate the craft and treat it with respect. There’s a long history and it's one of the oldest professions. Your clients should feel excited about getting in your chair. 

What do you love about your job? 

I love my job the most for the instant gratification my customer gets, the opportunity to make someone feel better about themselves and the conversations we share. I know ALOT of secrets. [Ed. note: this is so true.]

What music do you listen to while you work?

I play a very eclectic music selection depending on the atmosphere thru the day. It could be a chill morning with dub reggae or jazz, or a busy Friday with punk or hip hop. I try to expose people to music they may have never heard. [Ed. note: I never leave Frank’s without a great music rec.]

What are you reading? 

I'm reading a book one of my customers is writing and it’s yet to be titled. So far it's awesome.

What are some of the pleasant surprises that popped up from running Frank’s? 

One of the pleasant surprises I've seen is people treating each other with mutual respect no matter what walk of life you come from. A barber shop is a fantastic equalizer.

How does creativity play a role in your work? 

Creativity is everything in my profession. From sculpting a haircut to the art of conversation to the music being played as well as the current trends. I stay creative because that's my nature. I get inspired by the pursuit of culture and style.

What is your favorite soup? 

My favorite soup is Ital Stew usually found in Jamaica.

Ben LeBlanc
Ben LeBlanc

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