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    The Porch — interview

    RALEIGH HUSTLES HARD - ARROW / PEDRO WILLIAMS

    When I first moved back to Raleigh in the summer of 2013, finding a good haircut was a bit of a nightmare. The salons felt pretentious, impersonal, overpriced, or seriously lacking in quality. That fall, I came across a new store in Cameron Village with “Arrow” written across the window. I took to the Internet to see what it was all about and was thrilled to find out that someone was opening a barbershop with an old school feel. That’s how I initially met owner and local entrepreneur, Pete Phipps.

    Arrow’s first location opened in December 2013. I was there a day later. When I walked in, Pete, who at the time manned the counter, greeted me with “How’s it going? Want a beer?” Good start. There were vintage Sports Illustrated cut outs lining the walls, amazing products for sale like Harry’s Razors, Happy Socks, Lumina Clothing, among others. The shop wasn’t a machine. It was intimate. A small bar in the front flanks the four barbers with a long mirror, and a bench lining the wall behind them. Clean, simple, inviting, and it's affordable. For $15 (+ tip), I walked out with my first good haircut since moving back home. I sat down for a hot shave on my next visit. Two years later, I’ve never walked out disappointed. That seems to be the general consensus, because Pete now employees twenty stylists at three locations. In July 2014, Pete opened a second Arrow location on 115 E. Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh (look for the fluorescent red arrow that says “CUTS”) and in May of this year, opened his third location, Pedro Williams at 624 9th St., in Durham (curious about the name? watch the video on their website).

    As one of our favorite small business owners in the Triangle, we were thrilled to sit down with Pete and learn more about his story for the third installment of Raleigh Hustles Hard. After graduating from West Point Academy and serving five years active duty in the US Army, Pete moved to Raleigh in 2010. Before opening Arrow, Pete spent a couple of years as a Project Manager in Cary. He said, “I always knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial or small business related, and this allows for a fun, community based environment where we get to continuously meet new people.” As a kid, he valued the special experience of going with his dad to get a haircut at the barbershop. “Our aim is to bring it back to the old school, where you enjoy the bonding experience of getting a haircut instead of viewing it as an errand.” With Pete, everything comes back to people and building relationships. He’s quick to tell you that customer service is his primary focus and takes precedence over everything else. “When it’s all said and done, the way we treat people will make or break our business.” Like a true veteran and leader, he understands that people are also his greatest resource. “My goal is finding the right people and stressing the importance of customer service over anything else. The way you treat people is more important than anything you’ll do during the entire experience.”

    Pete tells me his favorite part of being a small business owner is creating a unique, fun, and financially beneficial place for people to work. Giving people a breath of fresh air and a new start to their careers. Alternatively, his biggest challenge to keep himself and his team motivated, inspired, and ready to perform. “We’re on all the time. In this industry, everything is visible, so we’re not afforded the luxury of having a bad day. And when we do, we have to remember that it's never about us, it’s about the customer and their experience.”

    Since moving to Raleigh half a decade ago, Pete has seen it evolve into a thriving city. He believes the constant growth has created a perfect environment for startups and small businesses. “When you start a small business anywhere, you’re going to be nervous, but when you look around Raleigh and see new restaurants, breweries, concert venues, museums, and apartment complexes popping up weekly, as a small business owner, that’s a huge relief. And we’re seeing the same thing in Durham, so that was a natural extension.” There are no immediate plans for further expansion, but rather to focus on the existing locations and keeping them consistent across the board.

    Given the chance to do it all over again, Pete wouldn’t change a thing but says his biggest lesson learned as a small business owner, is to treat interviewing and hiring as a top priority. He says they’ve been fortunate to hire a lot of great people, which has and will continue to be a huge factor in Arrow’s success.

    Go visit any of the locations in Raleigh or Durham, meet the team, and walk out with shorter hair. Guaranteed.

    Learn more about Arrow & Pedro Williams as well as a few of Pete’s favorite small businesses in the area below:

     

    Thanks for stopping by the porch,

    Porch Fly Clothing

    RALEIGH HUSTLES HARD - EDGE OF URGE

    We sat down with Jessie Williams, owner of Edge of Urge, for our second installment of Raleigh Hustles Hard. Jessie, along with a few other small business owners, play a key role in making the Person Street neighborhood as great as it is today. Edge of Urge and Lumina Clothing landed in Person Street Plaza in 2014, splitting the space between Yellow Dog Bread Co. and Wine Authorities.

    Edge of Urge has everything. Clothing, shoes, hats, scarves, Freakers, candles, jewelry, art, accessories, hilarious greeting cards, and even a room in the back where you can sit down and stare into Jean Claude Van Damme’s eyes. Is JCVD actually there? Is it just a poster with super life like eyes? Get in there and find out.

    It’s hard to last five minutes without making a purchase. As an artist and crafter who’s been hand sewing clothing since a teenager, Jessie has a great eye for quality products. Along with her amazing team, Jessie has managed to create a unique shopping experience for anyone. She’s a part of the growing slow shopping movement, providing a platform for local crafters and artisans to sell unique goods to the community. Jessie knows both sides, and how hard it can be for an entrepreneur to find their voice and make a living from their talents.

    Like so many other entrepreneurs and hustlers, Jessie walked many paths before ending up at Edge of Urge. She’s a native North Carolinian, but studied fashion and photography at the Art Institute of Chicago. Jessie, who thinks the word “fashion” in itself is a bit pretentious and stuffy, decided along the way that the fashion world wasn’t for her. She shifted her focus to sound and performance art, thinking she’d eventually end up working at a production or recording studio. As a hands-on, visual and auditory learner, that path made a lot more sense. Throughout this time, she never stopped creating and eventually started selling her art and other products to friends. As the business developed, she was turned off by the arduous battle of trying to sell wholesale to stores and other distributors.

    One day my mom told me about this space in Wilmington, NC that was only a few hundred dollars a month. So I took the chance and went down to setup the market with my stuff and some cool products from other crafters I knew in Chicago.” Edge of Urge was born in 2002 in a small $400 a month open-air space at a market in Wilmington, NC. “I was setup across from a guy selling only children’s dolls and swords”, Jessie said about her first space. Luckily, that was short lived. Edge of Urge moved to the JW Brook building in 2003 and then to their eventual home on 18 Market Street in downtown Wilmington, NC.

    Recognizing the support and appreciation Raleigh gives to local and small businesses, opening a second location in DTR was the logical next step. “We have a community based marketing style. Rather than putting a significant focus on online marketing and sales, we try our best to build lasting relationships in the community.”

    Jessie says the addition of the Raleigh shop has been extremely positive and rewarding and they have plans to further connect with the community through a series of pop-up shops and events. Look for their 1966 Vintage Shasta Camper around Raleigh this summer or stop into Edge of Urge at 219 E Franklin Street.

    Learn about Edge of Urge as well as a few of Jessie’s favorite small businesses in the area below:

     

    Thanks for stopping by the porch!

     

    Best,

    Porch Fly Clothing