Denly Karena shared with us the journey and process behind his successful small business, . Denly, known to most as Denz, was mentored by Kim and Stratigi, as part of the Te Puni Kokiri Mentoring Service. We interviewed him and learned a few things about chasing your dreams, taking the road to success step by step and the benefits of having a mentor/business coach.
So you’re a barber by trade, tell us a bit about how you got there?
I got my passion for barbering when I was going to Fairfield College, there were a few boys at school who would have a go at cutting each other’s hair in the garage. Even though we were just pretending to be barbers, it helped me figure out what I actually wanted to do so in 1992 I signed on to a six month course with Te Puni Kokiri.
How did it go once you were qualified? Was that the first run on the ladder to success?
I worked a few odd jobs before I figured out that I needed to concentrate on the one thing that really interested me and to use that focus to master it.
What did you do to concentrate that effort and increase your barbering skills?
I volunteered to work at Snippets hair design in Frankton Hamilton for three months for free and then in 1998 I signed up with Waikato school of hairdressing for another six month course. While I was studying I worked free everywhere I could because I wanted a good reference from my work experience placements so that the industry would take me seriously.
Well, not only did I pass my course but I had two apprentice offers when I graduated. So I started out at Paris Hair Design in Hamilton Central on $6 an hour. After a few years I was offered a better wage barbering at Pero’s barbershop. I was trained by an experienced barber. Remember though that times were different back then and barbering was more about speed than quality.
You ended up owning your own business – how did you learn how to run a barbershop?
I ended up working at Ward St Tobacconist and Barbershop. The owner of the shop is a good man named Dave McKewon. So he ran the front of the shop while I ran the barbershop side for seven years by myself, and Dave is still a great mate to this day.
So having a mentor can really make a difference?
Yeah definitely, once I had a good grounding on how to run a shop, I started looking more into the way that barbering was evolving around the world and I wanted to bring a better service and use my own techniques, so I decided to open my first barbershop in December of 2008. It was in the garden place arcade and I named it Denzsplace barbershop, after me.
Running your own business can be tough, how did you keep motivated and on track?
I knew I needed help and I wanted to find a business mentor. My friend suggested to try Te Puni Kokiri who organised small businesses mentors, and that’s how I met this wonderful lady who guided me with my business. Kim Hill from Stratigi could see my potential, and she really helped me to grow in my own way and on my own terms.
How did Kim help you to grow your business?
I was honest with Kim from the start and told her “hey I haven’t got money to put back in this business but I wanted to make it work” so she set me realistic goals from how many customers I wanted, to making goals for the future. This also included working on some marketing strategies. I got my whanau involved, we made pamphlets and my kids went around town handing them out during the holidays. I used Kim’s techniques to promote the business by word of mouth, facebook, was keeping up with new trends that I was researching. This made me unique from other barbers around. I also started a loyalty card system that I kept for 2 years.
And did you see results?
I got so busy I started needed staff so along came my cousin Michelle Macfarlane. With all the growth I’d enjoyed I decided I needed a change. So in 2012 I reinvested in my business, and with Kim’s help I came up with my new brand – MVP Kutz. IT was an instant hit with the public and I thank Kim and Te Puni Kokiri for guiding me through that process.
Congratulations! Tell us about what it feels like to achieve your goals?
I went upstairs and went through all my goals about the business. I am proud to say I achieved every single goal that Kim had put to me, because when you by a shop for $5000 and then in five years the business is making well one hundred thousand a year, you know that what you are doing is working. I now know what it takes to make your goals to become a reality to succeed in life, you can’t sit there and wait for handout you have to go out there and get it.
Denz is now taking his strong attitude, talent and all the business sense he has developed alongside Kim and Stratigi to the Gold Coast. We congratulate him on his success and encourage others to be inspired by his journey. All the best, Denz.
By Dominique Mansifield