Where the Guys Go
Jun 07, 2016 02:13PM ● Published by Dia
By Pamela Hammonds
Dustin Tondre’s schedule varies from week to week. Some days he’s behind the desk in his wealth management office in Southlake. Other times he’s traveling the United States, meeting with clients. While his weeks can be fairly harried and inconsistent, the one constant is his standing appointment at a local men’s grooming salon.
Tondre, 35, balances the responsibilities of raising a family and running a business, so when he noticed his wife, Jessica, enjoyed her monthly appointments at a salon, he decided a regular escape would serve him well, too. He looked for a reprieve from a ringing phone, a quiet place to decompress and, if a mixed drink came along with the services, he was totally on board with that as well.
An Industry Grows Up
As a kid, Tondre went to the local barbershop with his dad, who was a police officer. “I appreciate now what that time away meant for him,” Tondre says. But as economies evolved, so did the tenor of the downtown barbershop.
Depression eras saw many local shops close as men could no longer afford the luxury of a shave and a haircut. Eventually, retailers sold grooming kits so Dad and his sons could cut hair at home. Then the 1960s rolled around, and The Beatles-inspired mop-top was suddenly fashionable. Guys could go weeks without a haircut and no one would care—or notice.
The 1970s ushered in the era of shopping mall unisex salons such as Fantastic Sams and Supercuts. Men getting haircuts would sit perched next to women enduring pungent perms and highlights, while barbering became almost nonexistent as stylists were issued broader cosmetology licenses. In the ’90s, chains such as Sport Clips and Great Clips (with Great Sports promotions tied to athletic events) attempted to draw a more masculine clientele, but lacked the atmosphere of guys bonding under an aromatic cloud of cigar smoke and Brylcreem reminiscent of a previous generation.
Answering a Call to Meet a Demand
Fast-forward to 2014, when total U.S. sales for the men’s personal care market hit $4.1 billion, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the beauty industry, according to Mintel, a market-research firm. Ahead of this trend, area entrepreneurs sensed a desire for men to establish a ritual reminiscent of their fathers’ or grandfathers’ day and age. Lacking, they reasoned, was a place where men could escape from the daily grind for more than a quick haircut.
“I went to one men’s grooming salon that got me in and out efficiently,” says Tondre, “but I didn’t find it relaxing. The receptionist was juggling two phones and drinks were self-serve.” When a friend recommended The Gent’s Place, Tondre made an appointment and was hooked. “For me, it’s become a moment—a good hour—to not think about work and relax,” he adds.
Tondre gets a haircut every two weeks at The Gent’s Place, which was founded by Ben Davis in Frisco in 2008. He also stops in between services for an upkeep (typically a neck shave) when he feels it’s needed, which is covered in his membership.
Another favorite among local guys is Boardroom Salon for Men, which was founded by Southlake resident Bruce Schultz. “We entered the market in 2004 after realizing a relaxed grooming experience for men was missing,” says Schultz. “Men typically get their hair cut every two to four weeks, and we felt they deserved a cool place for an experience rather than a commodity.” Schultz modeled his salons after 1920s gentlemen’s country clubs, with wood paneling and a pool table placed among the grooming stations.
Even if guys can get all the specialized attention they demand at a full-service unisex salon, sometimes they just want to hang out with other men. That’s why places around town, such as sports-themed Knockouts, are outfitting their salons for maximum masculine appeal with beers on tap and big screens tuned to the latest sporting event, so guys can feel at ease while getting a facial, a shoeshine or a hot wax hand treatment.
Jeff Kissling, who founded Cowboy Up Men’s Salon in 2011, was a client at an upscale men’s salon for over a year until their choice in big band music propelled him out of retirement and into the men’s grooming business. “I jokingly said, ‘If you don’t change the station, I’m going to go down the street and open my own salon,’ and I did,” Kissling says. His three area locations feature repurposed old barn wood, classic Belmont barber chairs and saddle-mounted stools for Dad’s little buddy.
“Every service we provide can be done at each station,” explains Claire Settle, director of client experience at Cowboy Up. From a wash, wax, cut, shave or style, clients never have to leave the comfort of their chairs once they settle in.
The Face of Today’s Well-Groomed Guy
Now it’s not only acceptable to be concerned about your appearance, it’s expected—whether you’re a Baby Boomer or hail from Gen X, Y or Z. And even if you prefer the I-just-rolled-out-of-bed look, we can bet it took some time, product and grooming to achieve it.
“Young men are growing up with an expanded beauty industry that includes them,” says Dr. Kristen Barber, assistant professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and author of Styling Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Inequality in the Men’s Grooming Industry. “And so it is less surprising to see young men invested in the sorts of clothes they buy, the cologne they wear, and the hair products they use. But Baby Boomers are not aging without a fight, and this is true for men, not just women.”
Jenae McCrossen, a stylist at Finley’s Barber Shop, believes the male grooming industry experienced a resurgence along with men’s fashion. “Shows like Mad Men inspired a renewed sense of style,” she says. Finley’s, founded by Austin barber Scott Finley, has two locations in the Metroplex—Plano and Southlake. “Older gentlemen remember going to the barber shop for camaraderie and now enjoy coming to Finley’s for the interaction with stylists alongside young professionals. We really cater to a diverse group.”
The world of men’s grooming has evolved over the decades—almost as much as men’s hairstyles themselves. Men these days aren’t interested in a quick, impersonal haircut; they recognize the value in treating themselves, whether it’s with a hand wax treatment or a shoeshine. And the market is listening. There are plenty of places that give guys exactly what they want: a hand-tailored experience to go along with their haircut. SS
Making the Cut
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that in 2015, men accounted for 10 percent of all cosmetic surgeries in the U.S., with liposuction being their procedure of choice. The number of cosmetic procedures performed among men has increased more than 325 percent from 1997. Whether to stay competitive in the job market, attempt to stave off aging or a realization that women aren’t the only ones concerned about looking good, obviously men are making an investment in their looks.
Texas Man-Care Companies
While men may love the way their women look and smell, guys demand products and services tailored to them—and they should. A man’s skin is about 25 percent thicker, contains a higher collagen density, and has a rougher texture and larger pores than his female counterpart. A man’s higher sebum levels also make him more prone to develop acne, dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis (a scaly scalp).
It’s no surprise that entrepreneurs across Texas have developed men’s grooming products to satisfy the discriminating tastes of their peers. Here are a few to try:
Founded in Austin, Doc Elliott’s natural, petroleum-free products include pomade, beard oils, moustache wax, and more. Inspired by the contrasting aesthetics of vintage apothecary and modern refinement, Doc Elliott products are hand-crafted in small batches and then carefully cultivated to nourish and protect your hairstyle, bountiful beard and meticulous mustache. | DocElliottGrooming.com
Texas Beard Company
Who says today’s young men are failing to launch? These guys sure have been industrious! Texas Beard Company was founded in 2014 by three bearded 20-somethings (and one clean-shaven buddy who happened to be good at technology). Based in Beaumont, the specialty beard-care company offers high quality, all-natural, handmade beard products along with some pretty nifty t-shirts, hoodies, hats and beverage glasses. | TexasBeardCompany.com
In 2012, Zephyr, Texas, entrepreneur Travis Weaver began making candles on the stove in his apartment and soon added bath and grooming products to his line of goods. With recipes devoted to natural ingredients stirred up in small batches, Weaver quickly built a following that today includes a brick-and-mortar store in Houston, carrying other manly gear such as leather goods and quality American-made clothing. | Manready.com
Pat Parsi and Danielle Rouso founded Billy Jealousy in Dallas in 2004 with a desire to create a line of highly efficacious grooming products driven by science and nature, and wrapped in a sexy and fun brand experience. Their cosmeceutical line has amassed major magazine awards from prestigious publications, and today Billy Jealousy products are sold and used throughout the world—from Singapore to Auckland, New York to Los Angeles, London to Johannesburg. | BillyJealousy.com