Lured by a personal need to be by the beach, Mendez purchased a used Los Angeles Police Department SWAT truck and transformed it into a rolling salon, which he parks along the Pacific Ocean at some of the best surfing spots in San Diego.
“I love being a barber, and I’m a surfer to the core,” Mendez said. “This business facilitates my lifestyle, and allows me to connect both of my passions.”
From his decked-out, 24-foot long panel truck, Mendez offers classic and modern haircuts such as business cuts, military style, skin fades, tapers, razor fades, fohawks, mohawks, scissor cuts and classic comb overs. He also tailors beards and mustaches and does straight razor shaves with hot towels and foam.
According to Mendez, his idea has turned out to be a success. Since opening up in October 2016, he said that he gets numerous customers a day in the form of regulars, tourists and others who walk in while enjoying the beach or visiting neighboring restaurants and bars.
Born in Panama, Mendez has cut hair in four countries and various cities throughout the United States. With 28 years of experience, he felt it was time to take his idea on the road and unleash his entrepreneurial spirit.
“I first got the idea when I lived in an RV on the beach in Tijuana,” he said. “Many people would come to my house looking for a cut, and they would ask why I didn't cut hair on the beach in San Diego.”
Having tried different businesses involving surfing, such as a surf shop and surf school, Mendez said that they all got in the way of his personal time on the waves. Thinking that the mobile idea would be impossible to do because of the many regulations involved, Mendez decided to give it a try, since after researching extensively, he could not find another barber shop offering services on the beach.
Stacey Steffe, president of the American Mobile Retail Association, a trade organization she co-founded in 2011 for mobile retailers, says that a truck is an attractive business model for a lot of people, especially small businesses, because of its low startup costs, flexible hours and ability to change locations.
“We've been seeing all types of different mobile businesses opening up, services as well as retail,” Steffe said. “Backed by the power of social media, mobile businesses can build a fan base and draw customers to their latest location.”
Mendez said that he feels great about what he’s doing and the energy he receives from people. His biggest problem he added is finding enough places on the beach to cut hair.
“I don't really feel like an innovator, or risk taker, because I hesitated a lot due to the fact that it’s something new,” Mendez said. “I just followed my passion and believed in my idea. Lucky for me my passions are surfing and cutting hair.”
More information on Coastal Flow Barber Shop can be found on Facebook or by calling 619-647-0489.