The smartphone/app revolution has allowed many of us to give up the hassle of real-world grocery shopping (Hey there, Peapod!), as well as the perils of looking for Mr. or Ms. Right in a singles bar (What’s up, Tindr?), so why should we have to schlep to a barber shop to get our hair cut?
That was precisely what Stamford’s Christian Ianucci thought when he looked around last year and realized that no one had yet Uber-ized hair cutting.
Without investing in any pricey brick-and-mortar real estate — not to mention all of those barber chairs — Ianucci created Doorbell Barbers in July and his “Haircuts where you want, when you want” concept is rapidly expanding from Fairfield County into other parts of Connecticut.
“I work out of every coffee shop and library in the state,” Ianucci jokes as he books new appointments from his temporary headquarters at the Greenwich Library.
“It’s grown faster than I expected,” he says. “I guess it’s part of this new model of the on-demand economy. People want more personalized experiences brought to them, too.”
Since he started the business last summer, Ianucci has taken on five barbers — three women and two men — and expects to add more staff as business grows outside Fairfield County.
Ianucci had been working for various midsized start-ups for the past decade, but decided, at 29, that the time had come “to do something more nurturing.”
The entrepreneur went to cosmetology school with the idea of setting up Doorbell Barbers as soon as he completed his courses.
“I knew the cost of training barber/stylists would be high, so I thought I should just do it myself. And it seemed like it would be easier to grow the business if I knew all the ins and outs,” he says.
Doorbell Barbers is competitively priced at $40 for a standard haircut (seniors get a $15 discount) and Ianucci or one of his staff bring all of the equipment they will need to your home or office (including a portable vacuum).
I went looking for some of Ianucci’s customers and found a very satisfied one in Gabriel Wolff, who was tired of scheduling time for a haircut while running Stamford’s Wink Frozen Desserts.
“I was fed up with my (then) current barber. I didn’t like the schedule — they were closed Sundays and Mondays, which are good days for me. I wasn’t married to them and I wasn’t in love with the service, so I went online to look for a nearby barber who wouldn’t break the bank,” Wolff tells me from a business trip to Montreal.
“I came across Doorbell Barbers and thought, ‘Why the hell not?’,” he adds, laughing, of having a barber come to him, rather than vice versa. “It was easy, a better cut than the barber I was using and I didn’t have to leave my apartment.
“Cheaper and better and my wife says I can’t have anyone else cut my hair now.”
Ianucci has added traditional beauty parlor services to his line-up — makeup, blow outs — and puts together package deals for whole wedding parties. He is also setting up group visits to assisted care facilities.
“Right now, I am being a sponge, soaking up all the feedback I can get,” the barber says of following in the footsteps of Uber, which has each transaction rated by its customers in order to guarantee high levels of service.
“I want to be offering service across the state by the end of the year and bring on 20 to 30 new staff members,” Ianucci says. “After that, who knows where we will go?”
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