Business Monday

Football star Emmitt Smith wants Miami to get a haircut — in style

Emmitt Smith, an NFL Hall of Fame running back who attended the University of Florida, hopes to franchise The Gents Place in South Florida.
Emmitt Smith, an NFL Hall of Fame running back who attended the University of Florida, hopes to franchise The Gents Place in South Florida.

Emmitt Smith isn’t afraid to admit he likes being pampered.

The former Dallas Cowboys star is a convert to manicures, pedicures and hot shaves — and he wants you to try them, too.

“Women do this quite often,” said Smith, a bruising NFL Hall of Fame running back who attended the University of Florida. “Men, we rarely ever take care of ourselves.”

Smith and business partner Ben Davis run four luxury barbershops in the Dallas and Kansas City areas called The Gents Place. Now, they’re looking to franchise the operation to Florida. And Miami — especially its booming downtown — is at the top of their list.

“As we know, urban cores are dynamically changing,” said Smith, who got into real estate with an assist from ex-Cowboys gunslinger Roger Staubach. “Some downtowns used to be vacant. Now they are becoming vibrant, 24-hour locations.”

The Gents Place isn’t your corner barbershop: A shave and haircut can run upwards of $100, according to a pricing menu.

But Smith, who these days sports a crown closely shaven by a straight razor, argues it’s a worthwhile luxury. “You walk out feeling like a million bucks,” he said. “You spend an hour in there getting treated like a king.”

Q: What’s the concept for The Gents Place? What do you bring to the business?

A: The Gents Place is the ultra-premium men’s grooming and lifestyle club that helps gentlemen look and feel their most confident best. … My role in the business is dedicated to helping the concept grow through franchising. … My business partner [Ben Davis] started in Kansas City. He transformed a local men’s grooming shop into something special and then brought it to Texas. We got connected through one of my events, and he convinced me to get into the chair and get a straight-razor shave. He made me look the part.

Q: From an economic standpoint, why do you think South Florida is a good market for this idea? In what kind of neighborhoods do you expect franchises to open locally?

A: South Florida has experienced tremendous growth through the years, especially in the luxury goods and services industry. With this growth, we have identified a consumer set in South Florida that … enjoys the finer things in life. … With the high-rises and condos and big old mixed-use complexes, it’s a thriving city. It’s a city that a lot of people want to migrate to. Miami is Miami, man. It’s a melting pot. You have everything there. It is truly international.

Q: What’s your advice for pro athletes who want to get into business?

A: Save as much of your money as you possibly can. Study and understand what investing is all about. Learn how to operate a business. Study the fundamentals. Be willing to be trained and taught. We had coaches to train us to be better football players. It’s the same way in sports as it is in business. Take some risks. … Do your research and due diligence [and] make sure that you have both the time and dedication to the business to really focus your efforts. Also, take lessons from those before you.

Q: You’ve been traveling to Miami for a number of years. How have you seen the city change?

A: I have seen the city grow in terms of population, and it has gotten younger, more touristy and now has a much more diverse sports center. Cultural diversity has been tremendous as well.

Q: What did you do after football, and what attracted you to real estate as opposed to other kinds of business?

A: When you become a professional athlete, you just put your whole entire body into business. The NFL is a business all by itself. But you have all types of revenue opportunities. You have to look at what others were doing. I began to study while I was still in the league [and] invest myself into real estate and investing. When I retired, I immersed myself into the business. There’s always a person I looked up to: [former Cowboys quarterback] Roger Staubach, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. I admire what they accomplished beyond sports.

Emmitt Smith

Hometown: Pensacola

Age: 47

Education: University of Florida (Smith skipped his senior year to enter the NFL draft but returned to Gainesville to get his bachelor’s degree in public recreation in 1996.)

Professional Career: Dallas Cowboys (1990-2002); Arizona Cardinals (2003-2004)

Awards and honors: Three-time Super Bowl Champion. Two-time NFL Most Valuable Player. All-time NFL leader in rushing yards, touchdowns and rushing attempts. Member of the University of Florida, College Football and Pro Football halls of fame.

Current job: Entrepreneur

Charity work: Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities

Website: http://www.emmittsmith.com/ and http://thegentsplace.com/

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