For our first Pioneer Spirit profile, I talked with Michael Sponsel of Freedom Barber Co. in Atlanta about striking out on your own
Once, I asked Michael Sponsel what got him interested in barbering. His response?
“I needed to make money!”
Little did he know his need to make a living would turn into a bright light for his community.
Michael is from Indiana, and he went to college to study education. He originally wanted to be a football coach, but the interviews weren't going as planned. He came to Georgia on a hunch. Cancelling his lease, he packed his car, pointed it south and wound up in Atlanta. Michael needed a change.
He wrote down three questions to help him figure out his next move:
- What will make me happy?
- What will make me money?
- What will make me mad?
The first two would point him in the direction of a fulfilling career path. The last would steer him away from a lifetime of high blood pressure medication and yelling at the TV. It allowed him to devise a plan to create a path for himself that wouldn’t make him feel bogged down by his everyday experience.
He liked working with his hands and interacting with people. He wanted to add value to the lives of those around him, to build confidence in his neighbors and create lasting relationships. He settled on barbering.
In establishing Freedom Barber Co, Michael wanted to do what he felt most shops aren’t doing these days: put the customer first. By focusing on customers’ needs first the business will naturally grow.
Michael’s dedication to his customers, community and staff are unmatched. Freedom Barber Co’s slogan is “A Modern Twist on an Old-School Artistry.” But it’s more than a haircut or a shave. It’s a safe haven. A gathering place.
Freedom is an old-school barber shop, but not just in the sense that they have a barber pole outside with hot-lather shaves inside. It’s an old-school shop because their first priority is to be part of the community. Recently, I’ve been working with them on an initiative they’re calling “Care More than Hair,” to design a line of apparel with the proceeds going to charities around Atlanta. This community-mindedness is what the Pioneer Spirit is all about. If you take care of your community, they’ll take care of you.
Until next time,
- John, Founder of IGWM
Currently Reading: Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk
Currently Listening: My Favorite Murder
Current Inspiration: “My staff. My mentors taught me to be successful, hire people who are better than you. They’re my friends, they’re my family, and seeing their work inspires me every single day.”