One thing you need to know about Leroy Garcia from The Modern Shave in Connecticut is he will be on time. And he expects you to be on time, too.
“An essential part of the craft is being professional,” Leroy told me when we met up in the US this spring. I had just asked him about his principles. “Part of being professional is being punctual.”
27-year-old Leroy is a young barber with a fresh, original approach and getting well-known for his firm views on professionalism, as well as his well-tailored staff and scrupulously clean, comfortable Connecticut shop. He welcomes both men and women while offering skin care and scalp care as well as haircuts.
“When the client arrives at ten, and the sign says you are open at ten, and no one shows up until noon,” he shakes his head. “And then the next day a customer comes at ten and there is someone there, but the day after, no one is there until eleven, well, we need consistency in something as basic as being open when you say you are open,” he said firmly.
Leroy’s professionalism is rooted a sense of pride in barbering history and his passion to revive that pride amongst barbers everywhere.
“You see photos from the 20’s and 30’s and barbers were some of the most dapper people, guys in dress shirts and ties, and that is how I want to approach it, bringing that old feeling (of pride and professionalism) back, which is now so rare.”
Ironically, it is the super-modern mobile appointment app BOOKSY that has been “a blessing,” in making things happen, Leroy says. Since every customer has a unique self-made appointment through BOOKSY, Leroy’s barbers have to be prepared and on time for every customer, ready with a clean work station, sanitized tools and a personalized greeting. Customers expect it. In Leroy’s shop, old fashioned professionalism gets a boost from 21st century technology!
BOOKSY is also saving Leroy time and money, he says. “In starting my business, I did not want to pay for an assistant, so BOOKSY allows your phone to be your assistant. We are reaching about 300 clients on BOOKSY now,” he said.
So what is the customer experience at Modern Shave so many are talking about?
“The first thing you will notice is a structured environment,” Leroy says, and I can tell this is a real passion for him. “There’s no obscene music playing; there is just smooth jazz instrumental. There is a nice aroma, nice and clean. You won’t hear people hooting and hollering. You will see presentable barbers ready to attend you. You will get into the chair on time and you will see a clean environment. After a hot towel, you will walk out with one of the best haircuts of your life. You will be serviced with the best organic products, and I repeat, organic,” he says with a smile.
That is just the beginning of the full experience, though. “There are brands out there that produce great products for your skin and for hair care, so although we specialize in all types of haircuts, it is not our only approach. We like to service skin and scalp, we like to do dermal therapy scrubs and skin detox facials, waxing services. All this comes from the knowledge I accrued from Todd Bernard at I Cut Pro, being part of that fraternity.”
Leroy believes gaining greater public respect for this range of professional services means barbers can’t “show up in flip flops and basketball shorts and sweat pants and think it is OK. It all starts with a presentation of what we are.”
I wanted to pursue the Todd Bernard angle, but first I asked Leroy how he got started. He told me he’s been cutting hair since he was just 15, and “the next youngest guy in the shop was my age now, 27,” he recalls. “Everyone else was even older, my father’s age.” What did he take away from that? “It showed me you only learn from the passage of time. If you surround yourself with experienced people who have learned through the passage of time, us younger ones can learn not to trip over the same rocks they tripped over.”
Back to Todd Bernard, Leroy says the man is a wealth of information and inspiration for barbers at all levels. “Even with ten years’ experience, it made me feel like a new student, made me feel like I had never picked up a clipper,” he said. “People want to have strong suits and stay in their comfort zone, but when you step out of that boundary and admit maybe your scissor game isn’t the best, maybe you don’t know how to part properly, maybe you don t know how to talk to clients, you become a better barber and a better person.”
Leroy told me Todd Bernard’s high quality products help him build Modern Shave’s brand. He says Bernard’s “It’s Butter” leave-in conditioner sold out his initial 12-bottle shipment in two days. “Our clients trust that what we offer and they know we aren’t just trying to take extra money out of their pocket. They know it is full of quality and will fulfill the need they have whether it is skin, scalp or hair.”
Leroy “100 percent” recommends the I Cut Pro web site, where a monthly subscription can bring all the benefits of attending live courses in New York. “It’s a blessing in my life,” he says.
As we wrapped up our chat, Leroy came back to what was learning is a favorite subject, and I want to leave you with his main point: the absolutely critical need for a commitment to punctuality, cleanliness, professional appearance, expanded services and a laser-like focus on the customer.
“Yes, we have urban shops and more classic shops, but these are the principles that should not be negotiated, that should not be missing in any shop,” he insists. “It is the foundation that we need to teach the new generation in events like the Irish Barber Expo.”
“We see people leaving their 9 to 5 to start barbering, but we need to lead them the right way, and if we take it upon ourselves, the new generation that is arising in the industry is going to start doing things the right way from the beginning.”
Well said by a man who clearly has been doing things the right way from the beginning, even though at age 27, he is really only beginning himself.
It was a pleasure to meet Leroy and I wish him all the success in the future. He is an amazing soul with a great passion for the profession. I hope you enjoyed meeting him, too!
Click over to my YouTube @larrythebarberman to watch the entire video with this impressive young talent, and look for another interesting post from me in the very near future.
Until then happy barbering!