A little about Ace Barbershop:
The business: Ace Barbershop has four barbers who cut and style hair. We do old-fashioned shaves with lather and straight-edge razors. We’re licensed to use the straight edge. I try to have some kind of balance between a fancy salon and a traditional barbershop. We try for a little more attention to detail than the average barbershop that gets you in and out real fast. We take walk-ins and appointments.
Our motto is “all styles welcome.” I think the customer should feel comfortable, no matter what your age or style of music or clothes. You should be able to come in and not be stereotyped. We do traditional cuts, and we specialize in razor cuts. We can do lines in hair, fun stuff. We do it all.
We play great music. I used to be a DJ. I love collecting records, and music in general. I bring my turntables to the shop. We play records and CDs: old, new, blues, reggae, electronic, hip hop. Anything goes. I encourage musicians to drop off demos. With technology, it’s so easy to share. People like good music and are open-minded about hearing new stuff.
Ace Barbershop also has an art gallery. I like to have a new exhibit every month or so. I like to get the art out there. For us it’s nice to have our space change.
You want your work place to be fun. We keep it fun all the time. I cherish that.
Previous jobs: I was a DJ for many years at clubs all over the place. I worked at the main library in the book van. I’ve done a lot of service industry, from coffee shops to bar-tending, delivering pizza – all that stuff.
How I started this business: When I moved to Albuquerque eight years ago, I tried to make it as a DJ. I worked at Java Joe’s. The Heart & Soul salon was upstairs. My job was runner; I’d take orders out. I got to know the people upstairs. They would order muffins and coffee for their clients. I fell in with them. They kind of adopted me.
After a while, they offered me a job as receptionist, washing hair and making appointments. I worked there five or six years. My great friend Gerhardt Ackerman, the owner of Heart & Soul, came back from a weekend in L.A. where he saw a Rudy’s Barber Shop, a chain out of Portland. They have turntables and pop culture. He was really jazzed about the idea. He told me, “Go to barber school and get your license and we’ll open a really cool shop, and down the road I’ll let you run it.”
And that’s exactly what happened.
My Chores : I cut hair. I coordinate the art shows and hang the art. I work up the graphics and fliers – I keep track of trends in hair. I try to be in the
Best thing about the business: It’s something I never foresaw. I love being able to meet a person I would never have talked to otherwise. We hang out for 20 or 30 minutes and find something to talk about. The human part is really cool. I learn stuff about all walks of life. I pick people’s brains. It’s inspiring to me to hear their stories.
I come from a really small town, a rural environment. I’m used to people saying hi. My dad would wave at every truck on the road. In the city there are so many people. But we’re all human, and if we take enough time we can find something in common. That just blows me away.
Worst thing about the business: The time involved. Sometimes I feel like I’m creating a monster. It’s never-ending. I could take a week off and just do stuff for this place. I try to be patient with the process and figure out what to do and when to do it.
What was your worst business idea? When we first opened, we gave away free beer to people of legal age. There are barber shops around the country that do that. Well, we didn’t research it enough, and it’s against the law in New Mexico to give liquor away at a business. We almost got fined. That was the worst idea.
Future plans: I want to build Ace Barbershop little by little, through grass-roots word of mouth. I could foresee opening another location at some point. I want to get wifi setup so people can work on their laptops while they wait.
Advice to someone who wants to get started in this field: The location is key. And find a really good crew. Think about the benefits you offer the customer. Every place is different; think about who you want in the shop. You’re going to spend your life there. Then imagine what you want to have there. And figure out how much it will cost.