VMSD - October 2015 - (Page 60)
Interview by Steve
The Hollywood screenwriter invested $15,000 in an Austin, Texas,
barbershop called Birds. It's now the go-to place to get your hair cut.
How did the time you spent as director
of executive communications at
Disneyland inform your approach to
Not so much from a design standpoint, but
definitely from a business and operations
standpoint, seeing how a company handles
things. I got a good grasp of the structure of it
all - attending to the details of how to do it and
what not to do. Never point with one finger! It
may be insulting. No detail is unimportant or
overlooked. Particularly, seeing the way they
handle an event is amazing. Always plan for
(and expect) the unexpected.
So you created your own option.
In 2006, Jayson and I invested $15,000
each in our first Birds Barbershop. It was
during the pre-boom in Austin. It would
[cost] five times that now.
It's the non-Texas. It's unique. Think of a
Willie Nelson concert, where a frat guy is
standing next to a biker, standing next to
an old hippie, next to a cowboy, next to a
techie, next to a Republican state legislator - and everyone gets along.
What was the concept?
All Austin, all the time. Live music, parties
in the parking lot. A barbershop for everyone - from grandpa to a teenage girl, to
a guy with a mohawk. Affordable pricing
and a "no-drama" policy!
You took a kind of circuitous path.
I wanted to be a writer, so I entered the
creative writing department at Johns
Hopkins University. That eventually took
me to Dallas, working on a political campaign for Vicente Fox, for president of
Mexico; then to Los Angeles, while trying
to break into screenwriting.
Any luck with that?
I had a really great meeting once. And I
met my wife.
What got you back to Texas?
We were both so sick of commuting our
whole lives away, of being stuck in traffic
two hours every day. One day, I called her,
from my car to her car, and said, "I can't
do this commuting thing anymore. What
about Austin?" And she said, "Okay!"
With a barbershop in mind?
With nothing really in mind. But I asked
my boyhood friend, Jayson Rapaport,
where I could get a good haircut in Austin
and the options were fancy salons or discount chains.
Gossip is forbidden. Stylists can't talk
too much about their personal lives. No
bitching to customers, no negative chatter, no chronic lateness or other problems. And so, we attract good stylists who
don't like drama.
How's it doing?
We're building our eighth Austin location
and our first one in Houston. Houston
has a lot of University of Texas alums.
Do you depend on university
Less than you'd think. You can't build a
business on college students - they keep
graduating. Also, they're price-sensitive
and not the greatest tippers.
And every store has a barber pole,
Nope. It gives the impression of a men's
shop, and we don't want that. This isn't
a bunch of guys discussing the game. To
me, it's not a party if girls aren't around.
Gab by Dav is, C hi C aG o
What does a free-spirited kid
growing up in Laredo, Texas, want
First, head out of Laredo - specifically, for
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of VMSD - October 2015
VMSD - October 2015
From the Editor
Vmsd Editorial Advisory Board
Hong Kong Hallyu
Everyone’s Eating Out
Old Meets New Down Under
VMSD - October 2015