Founded by Jim Valenzuela in 1999, V's Barbershop was opened because Valenzuela couldn't find a place that he felt was suitable to take his young son for a haircut; the fond memories he had going to the barbershop with his own dad growing up were something he wanted to continue with his own family.
V's has since expanded with franchises across the country and prides itself on providing a first-class barbershop experience at a reasonable price.
We sat down to talk with Emily Hutcheson-Brown, Chief Operating Officer for V’s Barbershop, about what sets the company apart.
What is V’s secret sauce?
Care. There are many “elements” to the secret sauce, really but at the helm of it all, from our founder down to everyone in our franchise family, the secret is to care.
We are in a service-based business. When you're charged with serving people, in any capacity, we must love what we do, who we do it with and we must care enough to always strive to do our very best. We talk about this often. The barbers who love their profession, their patrons and their barbershop, they are the most successful. It’s not about the barbers who give “expert” haircuts, as much as it’s about the barbers who take expert care of their patrons and make them feel like a million bucks. The franchise owners, who care about their staff, and their shop. Those are the franchise owners who are the most successful in our family. The care shines through. The attention to the smallest details, and the largest importance.The ability to make your staff and your patrons part of a family.
This is all felt throughout the barbershop, and it’s something that is lost these days. The more we distance and become less personal, the harder it is to feel as though you are part of something more. We have continued to strive to maintain this in a profession where we are still caring for people. Our team at our headquarters cares more than any corporate team I’ve ever seen. Many working out of the love of the V’s Barbershop family. Our team travels, works long hours, works away from family, goes above and beyond on weekends, and really simply will do what it takes when needed. Because we care. So if I had to assess our “secret”, for the last 20+ years, it’s been this. We were founded by a man who cared about bringing back an industry which was dying. It was important, and he cared to pass this along for his own son. It’s simply grown from there.
Why is diversity is so important at V’s?
When Jim started the brand, and we all started working so diligently to build a presence of authentic barbershops in various cities across the country, we really always pressed hiring talented, good people. We wanted to make sure that the professional barbers we were able to find and bring into the V’s family were skilled. This, along with being part of a team, was the premise that we were built on.
About 10 years ago, we started to look around and we noticed we had built barbershops in the form of little United Nations across the U.S. We had not purposefully done this, but rather we had promoted talent and cohesiveness. Learning from those that surround you who may have a skill you did not possess. When this kind of encouragement and behavior originates from your founder and your team at headquarters, we found that others took hold of that and it was simply more important to find authentic, skilled barbers.
We never have, nor will we ever strive to insure we represent all diverse nationalities on purpose. We just land that way often because we do not purport to be any one “kind” of barbershop. The reality is that barbershops are one of the only acceptable “segregated” businesses in the world. African Americans tend to go to shops filled with African American barbers. Hispanics go to Hispanic shops. Most people don’t realize, Mr. V is himself, Hispanic. However, he sits in every chair. And our barbers have all become adept and have always been encouraged to simply serve in their best efforts. It’s worked. We are diverse because we look for authenticity, and greatness. We don’t have any template as to where that comes from, or what it looks like. It just is, and for that, it is respected.
How has the barbershop space in general changed in the last decade?
The largest impact in the last decade, especially in an industry where the service itself has not changed much in 100 years (there are only so many hairstyles for men and boys), has been technology.
The impact of technology on the age-old industry of barbering has been tremendous. Patrons can now use web applications, or phone apps to manage their own experiences. They can book reservations with our stores and barbers, do their own research, even pre-pay in some instances. The advances tech has allowed, has also allowed our barbers to be more present with their patrons. They simply don’t have to answer phones anymore in some cases, and they are being aided by computer programs and the like which help them keep data on their patrons to serve them better in the future. Twenty years ago, there were a handful of choices in tech applications for our industry. Today there are dozens. They are specific to our industry, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. The fact that we are large enough as an industry to command this kind of opportunity, says a lot about the growth of grooming.
How did V’s make it through the pandemic and continue to thrive?
We continued to do what we have always asked our family to do: Care about each other, and those who fill your shops.
We really buckled down and reminded our family to follow what they already knew. We are a licensed industry, with licensed providers. We are all educated, and we knew how to roll into a very thorough and extensive set of cleanliness practices. We knew how to pay even more attention to the standards and protocols that were needed for the greatest outcome and safety of our patrons and staff. We practiced “Licensed, Clean and Pristine”. We not only touted that, but we also practiced it to the greatest degree possible. Thankfully, although we were shut down for various timeframes around the country, we had franchise owners who really did everything they could for their staff to assist them during that time. When it was time to come back, our staff did just that and soon our patrons followed. We have been very fortunate that our family has trusted us to provide the best of barbering, but now they have trusted us to do everything we could to keep them safe as well. We will continue to pay attention to the needs, and the changes we are all facing. We continue to care.
What's trending in barbering?
In terms of barbering services, the largest trend we have seen come back, and stick, has absolutely been beards and facial hair. Whether it be a trimmed up beard, or a closely trimmed goatee, or the purposeful 5-0clock shadow, the facial hair is here to stay. Gentlemen have figured out they have a right to a service in a barbershop that was meant just for them. They are treating themselves better, and using professionals to provide grooming guidance, professional products, and professional services. They now understand they have barbershops, meant to welcome them, and sometimes even teach them. We just love that they have found us, and they continue to remember to treat themselves to these services and the time for themselves.
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