Sharon Blyth-Moss and Shirley Henderson radiated a profound sense of peace as they shared their experience so far as entrepreneurs; it was as if any person could come up to them and immediately feel at home. Perhaps that is why their recently birthed baby evokes exactly the same feeling. To friends and family, Squirrel Chops is their go-to place for locally-roasted coffee and quality haircuts because two special people in their lives own it. And this couple makes them feel welcome every time. To strangers, it is their third place—a space in which they could be completely themselves, open, vulnerable, but very much relaxed. Shirley told an anecdote of a customer who dropped by for coffee and in Shirley’s amazement, confided in her about how she was having a terrible day.
It is not uncommon for cafés to be any person’s third place, everybody finds sanctuary in them more often than not. But, Squirrel Chops is special, partly because it is where passersby and regulars can get their hair cut and/or colored by the talented Sharon apart from their daily fix of coffee and also because, sooner than later, it will be a place where a community of individuals can gather together and discuss ways in which they can contribute to the betterment of the society. This is how the fantastic duo planned for their first business venture to be—grounded in who they are and what kind of impact they want to make.
They went into the small business world because it was time to move forward from their previous jobs and more importantly, it was now or never that they could be a part of something beyond them and instill goodness in an ever-evolving, sort of chaotic world. Shirley said, “It was kind of this aligning of stars where Sharon was ready to move on from working in a hair salon, and I realized I didn’t want to do a desk job. So we started throwing out ideas on how we could do business, and hospitality seemed liked something we wanted to do… And we want [Squirrel Chops] to be a welcoming place. We want to push people’s boundaries. I think that’s important. We want to push people a little bit further to be more open and accepting or more involved in the community.”
Squirrel Chops is not just a café and a salon; it is home to them and many others seeking to rest and to commune with fellow human beings. “There was people in the bar who don’t know each other and they were all chatting, talking about what’s going on in the neighborhood. Those kinds of things are what’s important to all of us. We want a space to connect. And that’s what we mean by the third place,” Shirley said.
Managing their shop as business and life partners has been fabulous, Sharon shared. There are a few obstacles to deal with, but they are confident they can conquer them. After all, they did not give up and quit when naysayers objected their decision to pursue the path of entrepreneurship.
As with other clients we have met and connected with over the years, we are privileged to have been part of their journey towards making their business happen. Our very own Veteran’s Business Outreach Center‘s Director, Domonique Juleon, personally guided them through the process of setting up Squirrel Chops. With this, we hope for Squirrel Chops to develop into a prosperous enterprise.
About the author
Carolina is responsible for leading the Marketing and Communications department. She has a vast professional experience in marketing, market research and consulting, working with clients and organizations across many industries and in multiple Latin American countries. She earned her B.A. in Business Administration from Universidad Austral de Chile, a Master of Finance from Universidad de Chile, and a Certificate in Marketing from UC Berkeley. Outside of work she enjoys hiking, watching documentaries and volunteering.