By Aleesia Forni
September 29, 2016
Think of it as Uber for haircuts.
Taking a page from on-demand services like the aforementioned transportation company, Stamford resident Christian Iannucci has created something similar for those who need a trim or a shave.
His companies, Doorbell Barbers and Doorbell Salon, allow clients to book and pay for a haircut or other grooming service online in less than 60 seconds. A licensed barber or beautician will then come directly to the client’s home, office or other specified location, fully equipped with a portable workbench, Bluetooth radio and wireless set of tools. That location could be anywhere from a home to an office, the gym or a hospital room.
“We’ve had people call us to come out to the beach,” Iannucci said.
After graduating from Marymount Manhattan College, Iannucci got his start in entrepreneurship in 2010 when he co-founded City Wine Tours, a company that designs walking tours showcasing wine destinations in specific neighborhoods.
“I was always stifled by corporate restrictions, the corporate workplace,” he said. “I was always fast-paced and very action oriented, so I often found lots of limitations with a normal nine-to-five.”
Christian Iannucci, owner of Doorbell Barbers. Photograph by Bob Rozycki.
While enjoying the flexibility that comes with owning a business, Iannucci was soon ready for a change of pace.
“I was really looking to have more of a meaningful impact and really connect with people more and service others,” he said.
Iannucci drew from his experience growing up in the Bridgeport barbershop, The Male Room Haircutters, owned and operated by his late grandfather, Joe Iannucci, for more than 40 years. He began toying with the idea of what an in-home or on-call service would look like in the beauty and grooming industry.
To bring his vision to life, Iannucci enrolled in SoNo Academy in Norwalk and completed a yearlong apprenticeship, all while tweaking the idea for an on-demand barbershop service.
In July 2015, Iannucci launched Doorbell Barbers and soon after, in December of that year, created a similar service for women, Doorbell Salon. Customers can choose to book a single appointment — men’s haircuts are $40 and women’s are $75 — or sign up for a monthly membership package. The company also offers makeup, blowouts, facials, massages and a variety of packages including those for bachelorette parties or grooms and their groomsmen on their wedding days.
But Iannucci is quick to point out that it’s not just a grooming service, it’s an experience. Customers can choose their own music, products and even a preferred beverage.
“It’s different because you’re not coming into a barbershop,” he said. “Someone is coming into your home, so the level of trust is so much more important for us.”
To build that trust, Doorbell Barbers’ employees serve certain territories, allowing clients to build relationships with their stylists.
“The model is somewhat similar to the Uber model, so we’re hiring contractors; so you work where you want when you want,” Iannucci said. “They’re still able to maintain a full-time job at a salon or a barbershop. They can just make additional money on the side working with us.”
Because the company avoids the fixed costs and fees associated with owning a brick-and-mortar shop, Iannucci said, “We’re able to flip that and pay these stylists or barbers a higher commission, so it makes it a little more valuable to them to work for us.”
After beginning with Iannucci as its single barber, the company has grown to a dozen employees, including barbers, hair stylists, makeup artists, a massage therapist and an esthetician, all available to come directly to the customer.
For now, Iannucci aims to saturate his current markets in Westchester, Fairfield and New Haven counties, but he hopes to expand his services to include New York City and the Hamptons by next summer. He is also working to develop a Doorbell Barbers app to make the booking process even easier for his clients.
“There are so many different ways and avenues for this to go, but I would love to build a school, a training program for folks to kind of train themselves and be licensed to how to properly take care of folks in their home,” he said. “I think there are a lot of things you’ll learn from being out in the field doing this work that you can’t in a salon or barbershop.”
Launching his venture has cost about $50,000, he said, including $16,000 in tuition to SoNo, but for Iannucci, doing what he loves has been well worth the investment.
“I’ve done thousands of services this year, and it doesn’t feel like work to me.”