Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Passion. Perseverance. Possibilities. is a series from Vistaprint following the pursuits of ambitious small business owners.
In this episode, Evan Georgopoulos, founding partner of The Barber’s Den, shares how he went from cutting his friend’s hair in school to growing a successful chain of barbershops.
“There’s a lot more time that goes into owning and growing this business than at a 9-5.”
But despite starting young, going from cutting his friend’s hair after school to building three barbershop locations took a lot of hard work.
First, Evan had to master the art of the blade.
Learning important lessons
“The Barber’s Den is a lifelong project from when I first picked up clippers around 12 or 13 years old.”
Though Evan admits, his early cuts didn’t always work out quite as planned.
“One of the first haircuts I remember was the one celebrity Pauly D had. Everyone had it at the time. It was almost a bowl cut. So, my friend wanted one, and I said, ‘I got you. Come on over. We’re gonna do this.’ He was debuting for the varsity basketball team when he was 14 years old. Unfortunately, the haircut was so bad that there were chants in the crowd that night of ‘Toupee! Toupee! Toupee!’ “
The haircut grew out, and Evan’s friend (eventually) forgave him. But it was this kind of trust that allowed Evan to really hone his skills…and that’s something he carries into the way he manages his team today.
Sharpening his skills
“As much as a haircut’s great, it’s the personality and the way you connect with people that really makes a difference.”
It was a series of customer service and retail jobs that first opened Evan’s eyes to the importance of communicating with people.
From working in a liquor store to serving food in a hospital, Evan learned a lot about dealing with customers and coworkers.
“Working in service industries, working in restaurants, you learn how to deal with people. The more you can relate to people, the more value you bring to people’s lives, and the more your haircut is worth it.”
Setting up shop
Evan opened his first barbershop at just 22 years old – the week he graduated from college.
“I had a business degree, but what’s the alternative if you don’t own your own business? It’s working for a business…I wanted to work for myself.”
His first location had just a single chair. Evan wasn’t happy there and knew that if he wanted his business to grow, he needed a larger space in an exciting area.
Fortunately, he came across an alternative, which offered him hope and gave him the confidence to forge ahead.
“I found a space on my ride home. That was the moment I knew I could make this work and that there was no alternative.”
Growing the business
After opening two locations, Evan realized he could use an extra pair of hands to manage the business.
That’s where Stephen Ferreira comes in.
Stephen joined after the second location opened. He’d been working in another barbershop after making a career switch from running a record label.
“I think when you tie someone else in on the business, it allows you to focus on what it is, maybe not what you wanna do, but what you’re the best at, and it helps you identify the roles.”
Helping the team develop
“We like to think that our culture is about pushing forward and learning new skills.”
Evan and Stephen started putting more of an emphasis on education for the staff and expanding beyond short haircuts.
Stephen adds, “We started seeing a lot of cool haircuts online from England and other places. Longer looks we didn’t offer, and I think Ev and I were early out with realizing we needed to go get some more education, and we need to give the education to the guys on the team.”
Nowadays, Stephen and Evan dedicate more time to bringing other professionals in to showcase new styles the barbershops don’t typically offer. By growing their repertoire, The Barber’s Den can attract a more diverse mix of customers.
So passionate about the team’s development, Stephen is now the dedicated Director of Education at The Barber’s Den. And Evan educates and consults for Baxter California hair care products alongside running the business and cutting hair.
Making the experience more than just a haircut
When you walk into The Barber’s Den, there’s an unmistakably cool vibe. But the atmosphere is still approachable.
“When clients walk into our shop, we really want them to feel like they’re part of our family. You can walk in anywhere and get a haircut, but there’s certain times when you walk into a space and you have a feeling of comfort.”
Evan and Stephen strive to create a welcoming atmosphere that instills immediate confidence in the professionals behind each chair.
“You have the décor, the setup, the layout. You also have the culture of the shop, and I think that’s something that’s always moving forward.”
And you can’t ignore their bold branding, which blends old-school typography with the modern profile of a lion.
“I think the brand’s very important in how we do things, and how people view us. We’re all individuals and creatives, and we’re all different, but the fact that we all stand behind the brand brings us together.”
While they pay attention to the details in the interiors, the music and look and feel of their brand, they never forget the most crucial aspect Evan learned way back during his part-time jobs—the service.
“The relationships that I´m building, those are the things that are always growing and always brewing. I learn more about myself every day from the people in the chairs.”
Each Small Business Story is unique…just like you and your business.
Learn more about Evan Georgopoulos and Stephen Ferreira from The Barber’s Den on Small Business Stories, Vistaprint’s podcast.