In a short time, Crows Nest Barbershop has become one of Toronto’s most loved barbershops.
I first met Jon (Crows Nest Barbershop Owner) a few years back through an introduction from Hambone (Crows Nest Barber / Connector) at a Madball show, here in Toronto.
The introduction went something like “You looking for a cut? Go see Jon.” At the time Jon was still honing his craft working at a shop in the city’s west end. I was pretty excited because finding someone to fulfill my need for cuts had been on my to do list for a while. I went a couple times to test the waters and it wasn’t long before I was getting cuts on the regular.
As Jon’s rep and clientele grew, he made the move to get his own place and scored a sweet spot in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Jon, Hambone and a couple of buds sweated it out for a week or two and threw together what is now known as Crows Nest Barbershop.
Getting In There
From the second the shop opened, I wanted to be involved. I started thinking… “Hey, my brother owns a web company (Offshoot), we’ve done booking apps before, maybe Jon’ll be into it.” So I rode my bike to the beer store, grabbed a case of PBR and went over to the shop to try and “talk some biz.”
It was a grey Saturday. I was lucky to catch Jon hanging out on the bench at the shop on his lonesome – my chance to get in his ear. So we cracked some beers and I jumped right in…
“So, you think you’d be into doing up some kind of online booking system?”
His response: “Nah, not right now.”
Me: “Ok cool, can I get in for a cut tomorrow?”
He got up real slow, walked over and scribbled my booking onto the little calendar sitting on the desk by the phone. I watched him write it in there, pencil on paper, almost like he was slapping me in the face. In all truth, though, I understood. After all, it was only him in there at the time. I pitched the idea out the window, finished my beer and went on with my day.
Things picked up for Crows Nest right from the get go. Hambone was always around helping out with stuff and started doing face shaves. Bigg Matt came on board and, soon after, Jimmy came over from the same shop where Jon was previously working. As Jon added more barbers, Crows Nest moved from managing bookings through a little calendar to the infamous black book.
Crows Nest was exploding, as was my addiction for looking fresh. It had grown into a weekly deal.
As with any barbershop, conversation is essential. Chris (Hambone) and I would get into shop talk about life – where we came from, where we were going… We both were into the doing something cool and, naturally, the idea of the online booking system came back into the picture. Chris was into it. Plus, there was, now, more of a reason to move to better booking management. They had grown to four barbers (Chris had moved up from strictly face shaves to cutting his buds’ hair), all with different, messy hand writing and only one black book controlling the fate of their existence.
We decided that we would try and put something together for the online booking on the down low and then present it to Jon at a later time when everything was working and ready to go. This was a little risky on our end because it required me convincing my brother James to put his resources into something that might not even happen. After a few intense conversations, we decided it would be a cool opportunity to build something that would be reusable for other businesses.
Puttin’ In Work
We got to it: transforming a booking application we had built for a previous client into something a little more slick and refined, targeting service based businesses.
Chris and I continued meeting on a semi regular basis. I’d always have something better to show him and he’d always have positive feedback with new ideas.
After about 6 months, we felt we had something ready for use. I was still a little antsy because Jon hadn’t seen anything yet. It was half frustration / half hope that everything would go through. I sent the link over to Chris and walked away knowing that we did some good work. I think Jon and Chris were up in Montreal cutting hair at Warped Tour that weekend so it was a good time for them to sit down and go through stuff.
I was awaiting some feedback and got nothing. After a few weeks, it started to feel as though it was over. I was not stoked. I kept on with my weekly routine and there was no mention of our booking application until one day Jon just said “So you’re doing the booking system right?” After that, it was on.
Making It Happen
James and I had been throwing names back and forth and settled on Resurva. We wanted to make sure that our product would be associated with a higher level of excellence and quality so the name worked perfectly.
The Crows Nest boys came by the office to check out the “almost” ready version of Resurva and we all set our sites on an August 25th launch date. I went into the shop for a few days and helped them move the existing bookings from their black book into Resurva and any new bookings that were called in were entered right into Resurva.
I wasn’t satisfied. When entering new bookings, it was taking too long for things to load and it was a cumbersome process. I left the shop that day, bummed. I ate dinner that night, bummed. I went to sleep that night, bummed.
I woke up the next day with the goal of figuring it out, no doubts, no questions – just getting it done. I walked into the shop and told Jon I was going to work the phones for the day. “Sure,” he said. “Actually, I kind of need someone for the day anyways so I’ll just pay you.”
With every “Crows Nest, Neil speaking” I had a new idea to make things better. This was the best thing I could have done. It gave me insight into the necessary functionality to make call-in appointments an easy and quick experience for the guys in the shop.
As the day came to a close, Jon threw me my cash and Jimmy asked if I wanted to go check out the Justin Townes Earle show at the Shoe. I’d never really heard any of his tunes but being a Steve Earle fan I figure I couldn’t lose and accepted. We met up and started drinking. I put all the cash I’d earned that day into beers for the boys and we got happy. It was a great night. I was high from the sense of accomplishment I got from figuring out Resurva plus it was an awesome show.
I got back to work on Monday and filled the boys in on what we needed to do. It was tricky. I had to make sure that we conquered everything with minimal time spent, as we had deadlines for other, less fun projects. There was nothing new here. We work in software so we’re used to working on a limited budget.
Within a day or two of work, we nailed it.
I sent the boys at the shop a link to the new stuff and they were into it. In turn, there was some news thrown my way. A new shop manager, Jayhu, was starting in a few weeks so we agreed that his start was the perfect time to launch.
Jayhu became a saviour. He focused a good chunk of his time into using Resurva and finding bugs and sending them our way. I can’t thank him enough for his patience and understanding. There were a few hiccups but we got through them quickly and made adjustments as we needed.
To be honest, it was a smooth launch. Instantly, as you would hope, people were booking online. Everyone was stoked. It felt good. I was in Halifax at the time so it made things a little difficult but we pulled through.
Part of the Team
After a few months and a few thousand bookings, it’s safe to say that Resurva has become an integral part of Crows Nest Barbershop. We’ve had nothing but positive feedback and gratitude from the boys and their clients, and we couldn’t be happier that they have found value in our product.
It’s been a great run and we’re ready to spread the love to the rest of the world as Resurva is officially ready for the public. We can’t thank Crows Nest Barbershop enough for having the guts to take things to the next level and we look forward taking things even further.
This is only the beginning. Stay tuned for updates and new features, they’re coming quick.
We love what we’ve got going on here.
Crows Nest Barbershop image taken from Doublenaut