By Amanda Kuhnert
After working with his business advisor for a few weeks, Christopher Blume started to worry about the final bill. But when she told him her hours were federally funded, he said, “That blew my mind. I thought setting up the business was going to be the most difficult part, but Nancy’s help made it the easiest part.”
Nancy Shuttleworth is one of eight business advisors at the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC). The organization offers one-to-one, confidential, no fee advising sessions to entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout Vermont. The program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Blume began meeting regularly with Shuttleworth last fall, and in March of this year, he opened Blumer’s Barbershop, an upscale barbershop in downtown Bennington.
The path to business ownership
Prior to his new business venture, Chris had been splitting his time between his hometown of Bennington and Nantucket, Mass., where he managed a landscaping company. But when his father fell ill and the pandemic hit, he decided to move back to the area full-time.
“I wanted to figure out how to be my own boss,” he said. “My parents styled hair at a shop in town for 40 years. They knew I had a sense of style and that I had been cutting my own and my friends’ hair for some time. So they suggested I go to barber school with the goal of opening my own shop. It was something our town needed; we had a lot of salons, but no barber shops.”
So, at age 35, Blume enrolled in the Paul Mitchell barbering school in Schenectady, New York. After getting his barber license, a friend who had opened another small business in town recommended that Blume reach out to Shuttleworth. “She said Nancy was the first person I should contact because she would walk me through the steps of starting my own business, which she did beautifully,” Blume said.
“Nancy made creating the business a cake walk compared to everything else,” he said. “She taught me everything from creating a business plan and cashflow charts to applying for business loans, as well as how to register online so clients can search and find my business.”
The most challenging part of the business startup process? Renovating the space. “The space that I moved into was nothing it is now,” he said. “I’m excited to see my vision of an inviting and relaxing shop come to fruition—a place where people can hang out, get a haircut, and be themselves.”
Blumer’s Barbershop specializes in haircuts, fades, tapers, designs, and hot towel straight-razor shaves. For more information and to make an appointment, visit blumersbarbershop.com.
Looking for more? Check out our resources page or reach out to your regional advisor!
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