Walking into Legends Barber and Academy, one can immediately tell that André ‘Ani’ Segals takes great pride in providing quality service. Situated at Stone Square at Welgevonden, Stellenbosch this men’s grooming space is just as welcoming as its owner with the spicy undertones of the products on the shelves adding to the space’s character.

From basic haircuts to hair treatments, Legends has you covered – but it is shaves and beard treatments that André considers their specialty. From an express trim and shape, to the ‘Legendary hot towel shave’ you will be treated to expert service coupled with premium products such as Blue Beards Revenge and the locally produced Hairy Eye range.

André’s current store opened in 2019, but his journey began long before then. Growing up in Cloetesville, he completed a course in Tourism before stumbling into the grooming industry while waiting for other employment opportunities. Cutting hair came naturally and the career path stuck. After operating informally for 15 years, he made the decision to enroll in a formal training programme in Cape Town.

He says, “Before I did my training there was a franchise business that had a training facility in Stellenbosch and I went there for like an interview so that they can see where I’m at. They did not want to hear anything about how long I’m in business because they didn’t pick up my business, because they didn’t pick up other businesses … and that’s the time that I realised that there’s something called formal trading and informal trading.”

While he describes being able to offer haircuts that were “right most of the time”, it was his formal training that provided him with the “blueprint” to his craft. Remaining at the training academy for an extended period rather than immediately entering the retail environment full time introduced André to the other side of the industry and he learned invaluable training and product skills.

When the time came to get his own business up and running, André did not hesitate to return to Stellenbosch – not only to establish a business of his own and give back skills and knowledge to his community, but also to encourage informal barbers to register as formal businesses so that they can benefit from the exposure and resources available to registered businesses. 

Legends operates with two full time barbers and a flexible workforce including a barber and a therapist who focuses on massage and hair treatments, and assists with administration. With a commitment to youth development in the industry, both of the flexible time employees are learning valuable skills, including how to interact with clients as a service provider.

Before the Covid-19 lockdown, André was renting space in a salon located in the centre of town. During the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns André learned that most of his clients lived in Welgevonden, Cloetesville, and the surrounding farm areas. Under the guidance of his Building Business mentor, he was able to secure business space at Stone Square, ideally situated for his clients.

An admittedly passionate businessman, André admits to focusing so much on the practical aspect of his job, that he neglected other aspects of business ownership. By participating in the Nedbank-funded Ranyaka Building Business programme, he feels he has really been able to learn and grow the other vital skills necessary for business success. By “stepping away from the chair” and upskilling, he has been able to focus on building his business and expanding his offering.

He credits the Nedbank-funded business management programme, mentorship programme and his subsequent acceptance into Stellenbosch University’s Small Business Academy (SBA) in equipping him with the training, knowledge and support needed to reimagine and grow a business. In his own experience, André believes that it is the small businesses that “keep the bigger guys afloat” and for this reason, they are crucial to the well-being of the country’s economy.

Having had an informal business where the boundaries between business and private time were blurred, André has learned the importance of separating your professional and personal life. By living a short distance away from Stellenbosch, he uses his morning routine, including his commute as an opportunity to get into the right frame of mind for the work day.

André has learned the value of resilience and has found that you can use disappointment as a driver for growth. He believes that growth and learning happen when you are out of your comfort zone and that as an entrepreneur you need to push yourself into this space. He advises aspiring entrepreneurs to keep pushing through the barriers to success and stresses the importance of continuously reinvesting in your business. While it is important to work hard in your business, you also need to learn how to “let your business work for you”.

On seeing a well-known figure having a haircut at Legends Barber and Academy, a young client commented that “Legends cut here”, but André says while that may be true, future Legends are definitely welcome too!

Images by Lizelle Lötter Photography

Stellenbosch is one of 13 communities across 8 provinces in South Africa where the Nedbank Proud of my Town programme is being implemented. Building Business is one of ten programmes that form part of the overarching Proud of my Town initiative.