Barber Evo

Retail The Fellow Way

April/May, 2022

If you are not making the most of the retail side of barbering you are missing out on a huge opportunity for increased revenue, says the chain that has selling retail down to an art, Fellow Barber. 

There may be 11 locations now, but Fellow Barber started with one small shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 2006. Sam Buffa, the founder, was growing frustrated with his own options for getting a haircut. It seemed at the time that you could go to a small neighborhood barbershop and get a $12 haircut with very few options, or spend upwards of $100 for a better cut at the salon. He wanted to create a path in the middle. He opened the first shop with a $40 price point for a better, elevated barbershop experience. At the time, it was walk-ins only, no appointments, and there was constantly a long waitlist and a line out the door. It seemed like a lot of people were waiting for this. Since then, he has spawned a new barbering subculture, raised the overall barber wage nationwide, and created new jobs by elevating the craft of barbering.

Mindy Dulberg, Head of Retail and Marketing at Fellow Barber, talks to us about how the brand continues to grow.

"We have 11 locations across New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco and we’re still growing. It is our top priority to invest in the education, growth and development of our team. We provide ongoing education, classes and training to our staff in all regions so they can keep leveling up at Fellow Barber. This makes it possible for them to keep making more money as they get a new skills and experience. We have an apprenticeship program running a cohorts all year long to give new barbers the skills and confidence they need to hit the Fellow Barber floor running."

As we're talking retail, I ask Mindy about the benefits of having staff that know exactly what it is they're selling. 

She said: "We do two things at Fellow Barber. We provide services, and we sell products. So, yes, of course it’s very important that the entire team is knowledgeable about Fellow brand products, as well as the third-party brands we carry. We offer product knowledge classes, provide as much one on one training as possible, as well as written materials that the team can refer back to you. We also offer a great employee discount so our team can buy and try everything we carry that they may not be using in the back bar."

Training your team to understand how being retail savvy is so important for them and for the business.

“We train our team to understand that selling products is a helpful tool for their own client retention. If you are in-tune with the needs of your clients, and very knowledgeable about the products we carry, you can 'prescribe' the best items for each person individually. Then, when the issue they’re having clears up because of your recommendation, or you suggested a wonderful gift that was a big hit with your clients recipient, you've built trust. That client now knows that you’re an expert and that you listen to their wants and needs. That is what keeps I’m coming back and that’s how you build loyalty.”

Having your own product line gives your team the chance to really get on board with the background of each product.

Mindy continues: “Yes, we have our own line of products called Fellow, with eight sku currently. All of our products are paraben-free, sulfate-free and never tested on animals. Our fragrance is 100% natural and leads with petitgrain, which is the leaves and twigs of bitter orange. We take a seasonal approach to cleansing, meaning that your hair and scalp need different things depending on what kind of environment you’re in. Summer Wash is a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser you can use every day if you want to, and Winter Wash is super-hydrating formula we developed if your hair and scalp are drying out due to the elements. We have four styling products. Our Hybrid Clay is everything you like about clay, without the drag. The combination of oil and water makes this buildable mud easy to separate, shape and hold hair into place. Texture Paste offers medium hold and a semi-matte finish. A combination of styling technology and botanicals makes this flexible paste perfect for all-day restyling. Strong Pomade allows the user to define, sculpt and slick with assertive hold. The formula is water-soluble. Styling Cream contains conditioning botanicals to instantly give her a lived-in look, with just a bit of hold. It’s great for short, mid and long hair styles. Mineral Spray has a blend of sea salt and mineral rich algae that gives the user surf hair in seconds. It provides effortless volume, texture and definition. Everyday Tonic is problem-solver with an astringent base infused with hard-working botanicals. It was originally designed for the skin and was then adopted by professional stylists because of the multi-use proprietary formula that removes hair’s surface residue, preps for styling, and provides a quick pick-me-up throughout the day. Good for all skin and hair types.

"We carry a curated selection of products across categories including hair care and hair styling, skincare, body care, personal and home fragrance and lifestyle. We choose brands with similar ethos to Fellow Barber and products that fit within and compliment the experience we're creating for our clients. Some of our brand partners include Kevin Murphy, Jupiter, Everyday Oil, Alder New York, and D.S. & Durga."

One issue that clients are increasingly having issues with is scalp health, and Fellow Barber has a great line called Jupiter that is the perfect solution. 

"Scalp health has increasingly become a very popular topic. nearly 75% of all people suffer from some kind of scalp issue at some point throughout the year. Whether it's dryness, flaking, itching, or some other affliction, it's painful, uncomfortable and can be embarrassing. It can be hard for clients to discuss what they're going through, but your barber is so intimately engaged with your scalp, so they know what's going on. Having a great line of products to aid in scalp health makes it easy and productive for a barber to broach the subject and recommend a solution for this very common problem."

There are many tips and tricks when it comes to fulfilling your clients' needs for hair products. 

Mindy adds: "When displaying products on barber stations, I think the most important thing is always that they're clean and look neat and tidy. When your client sits down in the chair, you want them to feel like tidiness and efficiency are priorities for you. Your station should reflect this, so take a moment to re-set after each client. If a client asks about a product you're using, put it in their hands so they can have a sensory experience (see it, touch it, smell it...) while you're explaining what you're doing with it. 

"Also, if you're using a styling product, explain to them how to apply it in their own hair so they'll feel comfortable purchasing it and using it at home. You want to preserve the integrity of the haircut/style you've just created. If your client is educated on how to style it on their own, it will stay looking great in between visits."

Clients come to barbershops for great haircuts, and that should never change, but why not offer them some understanding of what you're using on their hair and why. 

"Our bread and butter will always be services, but it is absolutely a missed opportunity if you're not offering products to your clients. While it can certainly be an important revenue booster on its own, I cannot stress enough how important it is to suggest products for a well-rounded service. Clients who purchase products are more likely to keep coming back for services, and ultimately, that's the goal."