Spencer’s Story

“Hi, my name is Spencer, I am 19 years old and the proud owner of Spence & Co Barbers in Brookfield Ōtūmoetai

In 2020 I completed Project K, an experience that changed my life and that I am extremely grateful for.

Before Project K I felt really lost, I felt unsettled and was struggling due to past traumas and experiences in my life, my step dad was terminally ill and life felt really uncertain. I felt that I didn’t fit in anywhere and had no idea what I wanted or what would make me happy. I had started getting in to trouble at school because I was trying to fit in and following the wrong crowd.

When I found out I got selected for Project K I wasn’t overly keen at first, but after meeting Dan and the team and hearing more about the programme I became excited about the opportunity to learn and grow.

Our group connected really well which gave me a sense of belonging. The wilderness was amazing, it got me out of my comfort zone and made me feel grateful for all that I have in life. It taught me self belief and self reliance – that I had all I needed to achieve my goals within myself. Project K pushed me away from the negative things in my life, my life started coming together and I started focusing on things that were going to benefit me and my future. I started to feel happy in myself.

I had always loved being creative, and during my Project K journey I found purpose in helping other people and making people feel good about themselves. I came to the conclusion that school wasn’t the right path for me and that I wanted to become a barber. I went to barber school then worked in a few barber shops, I loved it and felt I had found my place. 3.5 years after leaving barber school I owned my own shop – the same shop where I first had a job sweeping floors after school.

I have had my own shop for 5 months now, there has been so much to learn behind the scenes and I still find the things that I learned during Project K benefiting me, for example the discipline. Before Project K I would often push people away because I was used to being rejected but Project K taught me the importance of connection and community and letting people in. I am so grateful for my support network and they have been so important in my journey as a business owner.

If I didn’t do Project K, I actually don’t know where I would be. I was so lost, hanging out with the wrong people and not happy at all. Project K pushed me to do things I would never have done and opened the door to me finding a new level of myself.

My long term goals are to own another couple of barber shops and own a house, but for now I want to make my current shop the best place it can be for me and my team and enjoy what I have achieved so far.

I want to carry on making people feel comfortable and good about themselves, give them a safe space to talk and help young people to see that no matter what you are going through there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”