Discipline and determination: Tla-o-qui-aht man launches barber business following COVID employment crisis | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Discipline and determination: Tla-o-qui-aht man launches barber business following COVID employment crisis

Tofino, BC

A Tla-o-qui-aht man has made the best of a bad situation. After losing work in the service industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Quick launched into a new career that’s proving to be a winner in an otherwise competitive industry.

The Windy Clipper, a new barber shop, opened on the main street leading into the tourist town of Tofino in February 2024.

“I envisioned it to be a cool, funky little company,” says Quick, who designed the space. “It’s a good location, smack dab on the main drag into Tofino,” said Quick.

It’s a location that promises a steady flow of walk-in business during the busy tourist season.

Quick, 48, was born in Tofino General Hospital. He comes from the Masso family of Tla-o-qui-aht. He spent many years at the Meares Island village of Opitsaht before moving to Port Alberni for a short time. Quick says he spent more than 30 years in the restaurant service industry until the COVID pandemic struck.

When the provincial government offered retraining programs during the pandemic, Quick saw his opportunity. He enrolled in a six-month barber program that he completed in February 2022. Hoping to advance his training, Quick enrolled in a hair dressing program but that ended abruptly when everyone caught COVID. According to Quick, the program just fizzled out and nobody returned.

Following graduation, Quick worked briefly at a barber shop in Port Alberni, saving up money to open his own shop.

Eventually, Quick and his partner moved to an apartment at Tla-o-qui-aht’s Ty-Histanis community. Working at a restaurant on the weekends, Quick supplemented his income by styling hair from his home, building a regular clientele list.

“I still work at Roar,” said Quick, referencing the Tofino restaurant at Hotel Zed.

An ambitious man, Quick said there was a period of time where he spent the week in Port Alberni attending a hair dressing program then commuted to Tofino to work at Roar on the weekends.

“I did that for a year and a half, I was hustling away,” laughed Quick.

In that time, he saved enough money to open his own shop, with no business experience and on his own dime. Quick is proud to say that he didn’t apply for economic development funds to launch his new business.

He rented a space in an older storefront unit on Campbell Street.

“I hired a contractor to do the floor and bathroom – all the other work, I did myself,” said Quick.

The deep blue walls, he said, were inspired by the Russian cobalt blue trade beads that Nuu-chah-nulth-aht covet. Shelves are made of live edge yew wood, another nod to his Nuu-chah-nulth culture.

When the doors opened February 9, Quick’s regulars followed him to the new shop. Through word of mouth, the clientele list grew fast.

“I’m booked all afternoon,” said Quick.

He promises quality hair cuts that you don’t get in discount salons. Quick offers precision haircuts, fades, grooming, beard/mustache trims and premium hair products.

While customers pay a little more at the Windy Clipper for a cut, it’s a local service and saves a trip to the city. Quick says he’s seeing customers coming to his shop from neighboring Ucluelet.

So far he’s pleased with the new business and looks forward to what the Tofino tourist season will bring.

“It’s scary but it feels incredible!” he said.

The Windy Clipper is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Walk-ins are welcome but people can book appointments by calling Brian at 250-266-9463.  Appointments can be booked online at https://thewindyclipper.com/


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