Interview with Dr. Tye & Courtney Caldwell, Co-Founders of ShearShare
Movers and shakers. Pioneers. Entrepreneurs. You could use any number of words to describe Dr. Tye and Courtney Caldwell, husband and wife team who co-founded the salon and barbershop space sharing app known as ShearShare, but if you ask us, we’d have to use one word in specific—visionaries.
When Dr. Tye Caldwell was looking to expand his salon several years ago, he noticed something—the landscape of the industry was changing. Instead of stylists and barbers seeking out long-term contracts, requests for day leases of his suites began piling up.
For some, this might have seemed like a frightening shift in the industry, but for Caldwell, it was an opportunity. He began renting out spaces on a per-day basis and manually matching cosmetologists to empty spaces for three years.
Thus, ShearShare was born.
Neither Dr. Tye nor Courtney happened into the idea of ShearShare—they’d both been ingrained in the stylist and barbering communities for some time.
Dr. Tye Caldwell, who has been in the industry for nearly three decades, has a doctorate in professional barbering and cosmetology, has written a best-selling business book, and is considered an expert on company culture, customer retention, and team building.
Courtney, who has helped run and market salons in the past (and has a massive passion for the industry), was the key to fast-tracking international sales and marketing success for a number of previous brands, and that experience lent itself beautifully to the development and growth of ShearShare.
For the Caldwells, SheareShare is about access over ownership, community over competition, and about #beautywithoutborders.
What Part of the Industry Do You Find Most Challenging and Most Rewarding?
Dr. Tye Caldwell: “I look at this industry like looking at it from the sport of track—you get your reward doing so much individually, but you need a team to help uplift you and allow you to be successful, you need relationships as an individual.
From the aspect of the most challenging, first, is just being in the industry and overcoming the fact that you’re a business within yourself. Your brand is who you are. So many people get into the industry and think about working for the business’ brand and they forget about themselves—now the industry has flipped itself on its head. It’s more about the individual and not so much about the (big) salon and barbershop brands.
So, individually, you have to understand business, and how to build yourself and your customer base and your brand—but there’s so much about business most individuals don’t understand. I think that’s the most challenging aspect of it.
You have to ask—what are you doing to be successful? Managing money? Doing taxes? Taking care of your health, mentally and physically? What we do is so rewarding—you’re able to touch people every day.
You can see all different types of people, our days are not monotonous. The days may be long, but the reward, sometimes, is just being around different people and experiencing their greatness. That inspiration is so encouraging and can inspire you to be more than a stylist.”
Courtney: Today, there is so much power in what I feel is the best industry in the world because beauty and barbering literally touches everybody. I see my stylist more often than I see my doctor. I see my stylist more often than I see my dentist. It’s just that type of relationship and the positive impact this relationship has—whether they’re the soccer mom or the president of the United States—it shows up in how we carry ourselves.
What I find to be the most rewarding, especially with freelancers, is this: we’re the second largest industry for independents and we’re growing. People are choosing to operate in their passion and choosing to take that risk because they believe in themselves and what they’re able to do for their clientele. This focus around customer experience and making sure clients are happy, I’ve never seen it at a more heightened level before. That makes me excited for the future of our industry.
What Inspired You to Start ShearShare and Get Involved in This Industry?
Dr. Tye Caldwell: “If you think about the genesis of all great things, they generally start from a problem you’re trying to solve—sometimes for yourself. That’s what inspired us to start ShearShare. When I was expanding my salon, and I put suites in my salon, over the course of time, some of those suites went unused.
I realized the industry was changing and people were wanting to work when they needed to work, without getting locked into contracts or leases. But something happened one day—a young lady wanted to rent a space in my salon but the only contingent was she didn’t want to sign a long-term lease, she just needed to work there for a few days, every other week.
I knew the industry was changing and I knew the mindset was changing. I went home and talked to my wife about it and told her, I’d rather make something than nothing, so I called the young lady, told her “let’s go for it.” It was a match for me and my staff, and a match for her as well. She connected with the other stylists, the client community—she was able to learn from everyone and they learned from her. Then, she requested help getting into another salon.
I asked her why she’d chose me to assist, and she said that I understood the language and knew the apprehension other owners would have. That spread—she then told friends and other stylists. Courtney helped me.
Then, three years in, we were matching stylists anywhere and in any way they needed. We knew we needed to expand the concept and there was nothing like this out there. That’s when we realized this was a space that wasn’t served.”
Courtney: I remember Tye coming home after the stylist approached him—and I laughed out loud—I said why would someone call and ask that? At the same time though, we were tired of seeing our friends and fellow stylists have to close down their businesses because overhead costs were killing them.
Then it dawned on us . . . there were people who wanted access versus ownership. And we were hearing the need, understood the gap, and decided somebody needed to stand up and do something about it. So, that’s how ShearShare was born. Out of a need.
If You Could Give One Piece of Advice to Beauty Professionals—New or Advanced—What Would it Be?
Dr. Tye Caldwell: Two things, I would say—evolve and focus. We’re in an archaic industry that’s somewhat fragmented. When you think about beauty as a whole, it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry and in that industry you’re talking about everything—tools, products, franchises, hair, skin, nails, and more. But like anything else, it takes people.
You have to evolve because the industry is constantly changing. We can’t stay in this same spot and think it isn’t going anywhere. We see that with social media. We see it with tech. The business of “brick and mortar” is now is now in the palm of our hands—it’s not always easy for some, but we have to change and understand the evolution of the industry. We’ve got to focus on how we can put a brand ourselves and take advantage of this evolution to make a difference. That’s’ something I’d tell any professional, new or advanced.
Being an entrepreneur is a different mindset. You have to have the wherewithal to keep moving forward and to understand it’s a journey. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you need a level of leadership that connects with people. That quality is being social, but it’s also being diverse in your thinking. We have to make sure we’re connecting with everybody. This industry touches everyone. And you need a good community around you. I always tell people, you can go fast by yourself, but you can’t go far without other people.Courtney: The industry has completely shifted over the last few years—over 70 percent of people (within the industry) are independent. To the entrepreneur getting in the space, I would say exactly what my husband told me when I was thinking about leaving corporate America to go off on my own—he said, all you need to do is jump, and grow your wings on the way down.
I thought that was so apropos. And we continue to do that every day. All in all, beauty and barbering professionals are entrepreneurs, and every day you’re finding out something new that hopefully leads you to success
Courtney and Tye have also both had many mentors along the way, inspiring them to reach new levels of success.
Courtney has been personally inspired by beauty industry icon Kim Kimble and Arlan Hamilton (venture capitalist, ShearShare board member, and total girl boss.)
Dr. Caldwell has been inspired by many great leaders and business minds alike from Magic Johnson to Les Brown.
Courtney and Tye also had some thoughts on the future of the beauty industry and it came down to two things in particular: technology and hustle.
First and foremost, Courtney noted that Forbes estimates by 2020 half of the American workforce will have some type of side hustle. Dr. Caldwell elaborated on that and reminded us that technology is going to be the foundation of growth for all industries and especially for beauty side-hustles. We can’t forget to mention Courtney and Tye’s main piece of advice is that connection is vital in this industry.
If you weren’t already sold on becoming a ShearShare member, you should know they’re adding curated education, an easy tax-how to section that’ll do your quarterly taxes for you, discounts on the products you know and love, and more soon! ShearShare is a beauty and barbering industry only ecosystem that caters only to and is specifically for stylists and barbers.
ShearShare tailors everything they do to either help stylists make money or save money. Sign up today!