The local barbershop used to be an oasis for men and boys. There was always a football or baseball game on TV, the bottles of pop in the coke machine were ice cold and you could look through two or three years-worth of Sports Illustrated magazines — including the famous Swimsuit Issue — while waiting for your haircut.
The barber asked about your family, school and favorite teams. When you got out of his chair, you looked good, felt good and, with the help of some Old Spice and talcum powder, even smelled good. It was a special experience.
Now, 32-year old hair stylist Joe Lovell is creating a modern version of special experience— one haircut at time.
Joe believes the national chains “treat haircuts like a commodity — getting you in and out as fast as they can.” Joe takes his time and makes every haircut special — whether it’s his signature cutline in the young boy’s haircut or the spiffed up executive look.
Joe’s barber chair is retro-style with accents that remind you of old style shops. After your hair is washed and conditioned, he wraps your face in a hot towel while you lay back and relax. He’ll share some advice if asked. But mainly, he just lets his story motivate and inspire his customers.
A little over a year ago, Joe decided to leave his management position after 12 years working for two national retail chains. He had no job lined up and no idea what he should do next — he just knew he needed a change.
Quitting his job was a big risk because it brought in a substantial part of the household income. But his wife Whitney, a self-employed hair stylist, supported his move.
Whitney also suggested Joe go to hair design school and start cutting men’s hair. Coincidentally, Joe’s older brother Bill wanted to be a barber, but died suddenly in 2012. Joe figured this career path could be a great way to honor his brother, as well as, provide income.
Going back to school at age thirty-one was a challenge. But Joe was all in.
You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.” he says. “We get one shot at life’s journey. What makes you comfortable can ruin you.
He received his hair design license this past spring and rented space inside Dee’s Lux Beauty Spot in Boardman. Joe was finally his own boss, but now he faced a new challenge — how could he grow his business?
Joe’s work for national retailers and his natural curiosity helped him understand the value of a strong brand. So Joe started building his business by focusing on building his brand and adding value to it.
When Joe was in hair design school, his work was often described as really “fresh.” Soon, Joe Lovell became known as “Joe Fresh.”
Recognizing the marketing value of the “Joe Fresh” name, Joe created a “Barber Joe Fresh” logo and put it on hats and shirts. His business Facebook page is “JoeFresh” and features his adult and child clients sporting Joe’s latest cuts. He also posts his motivational and inspiration thoughts.
As of this writing, Joe Lovell is just four months into his new business, but has already dramatically increased his client base.
And while statistics indicate most new businesses will fail, I’d bet a bottle of Old Spice that Joe Fresh — the barber and the brand — will not only survive, but thrive.
That’s because Joe understands the importance of a great customer experience and the value of a strong brand.