Business Monday

Natural talent for haircuts grew into successful family-run barbershop business

The Spot Barbershop in Coral Gables, with over 16 years in the industry the barbershop was born of a realization that Miami lacked a relaxing place for men to hang out, talk with other men and get their hair cut at the same time.
The Spot Barbershop in Coral Gables, with over 16 years in the industry the barbershop was born of a realization that Miami lacked a relaxing place for men to hang out, talk with other men and get their hair cut at the same time.

It started in the laundry room of his childhood home in Little Havana as a fluke. Equipped with a barber kit that his uncle sent from Honduras — clippers with guards, a comb, brush and cape — a friend asked 14-year-old Fredis Perdomo for a haircut. Mimicking what he’d seen at barbershops, he gave it a shot and discovered a natural talent. Perdomo’s friend returned the next week and brought a friend.

“Little by little, I started cutting my classmates’ hair, but I didn’t take it too seriously at first,” says Perdomo, now 36 and founder of The Spot Barbershop, which has six locations throughout Miami and more in the pipeline.

By the time he reached his sophomore year in high school, his home was so crowded with friends in search of a haircut that he got a job at a barbershop on the corner of Beacon Boulevard and Flagler Street and went to barber school earning his master barber license. In 2001, Perdomo ventured out on his own, opening his first barbershop in Little Havana.

Today, The Spot is a family business run by Fredis, his brother Juan Carlos Perdomo, 39, and longtime friend Diana Hernandez, 34, each bringing their specific areas of expertise to the table to create a dynamic, recognizable brand in a niche market on the rise. With a background in sales, Juan Carlos has a strong eye for buying and selling, acting as COO, while Hernandez is an industrial designer responsible for the brand’s visual identity, from the interior design of the shops to the website, social media and merchandise.

The Spot Barbershop's Freddy Perdomo, Diana Hernandez, and J.C. Perdomo at their South Miami location. CHARLES TRAINOR JR.

With The Spot (named after “the spot” on the beach where the Perdomos could always find parking and meet friends growing up), they set out to bridge the gap between the $15 barbershop and the $60 salon experience by creating a comfortable, clubhouse-like environment where men enjoy hanging out and getting a classic barber haircut or hot towel shave.

“We’re creating an experience, not just a service,” Juan Carlos says. “First of all, we’ve got talent. Fredis is serious about hiring great barbers who are going to give you a great haircut. And it’s a gathering place. We offer every guest a complimentary coffee, water, Scotch, rum or vodka. It’s a place to mingle, network and make relationships.”

They unveiled their first Spot concept in Coral Gables in November 2015 and have since opened locations in Coral Way, Brickell, Doral and Calle Ocho with a South Miami location opening on Dec. 11.

A traditional barber’s pole swirls in red, white and blue on the exterior of The Spot and inside, each location is a variation on a vintage, industrial design theme with antique motorcycles and car parts, shipping containers, brick walls, mural art and custom barber stations with mirrors lined with exposed light bulbs and vintage barber chairs, some dating back to the turn of the century. Each Spot also features a lounge with cushy seating, a library and a big wooden bar.

Guido Trinidad, 37, owner of Peak 360 fitness center, is a regular at The Spot’s Coral Gables and Brickell locations. “When I go in, they make you feel good. I love the difference of how I feel — forget how I look, that’s obvious — but the difference between how I feel when I walk in and when I walk out,” he says. “I feel like a completely different person. I walk in with a hat covering my hair, feeling stressed out and I come out with a fresh haircut, feeling more confident, feeling rejuvenated and ready to go ahead and tackle the rest of the day.”

Adrian Acosta, 35, an attorney who lives in Coconut Grove, has known the Perdomos since Fredis was cutting hair at home in Little Havana. Acosta will sometimes meet clients at the Brickell location on the second floor library loft. “When I go there, I bring my laptop. I’ve known Fredis forever, so I basically just walk in and wait until he’s available. I never make an appointment,” Acosta says. “I don’t bother because there’s good WiFi, I’m able to work, the ambiance is comfortable.”

While the business focuses exclusively on men’s services, it was also consciously designed to be a place where a mother can bring her child to get a haircut or a client’s wife or girlfriend can relax in the lounge and feel welcome. “We don’t play loud, aggressive music,” Juan Carlos says. “It’s not overly sexy.”

Instead, patrons groove to classic tunes from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, ranging from Marvin Gaye to Frank Sinatra and Guns N’ Roses. There are also flat screen TVs on the walls exclusively playing sports with the sound turned off.

Walk-ins are encouraged and can expect to wait about 15 minutes for the first available barber, but many customers make appointments with their preferred barber. Services take roughly 45 minutes to an hour and 20 minutes and the most popular are the barber haircut for $30 and a hot towel shave for $40.

Dion Rivera cuts Pablo Espat’s hair at The Spot Barbershop in Coral Gables. CHARLES TRAINOR JR.

In addition to The Spot’s current locations, they have plans to open 16 more throughout South Florida in the next year through their joint venture business model. The Spot provides the business plan and management, while investor-partners put down 50 percent of the capital needed to open a new location, which generally costs between $275,000 to $350,000, plus a management fee.

They’ve introduced this business model with an eye toward national expansion and have already received inquiries from potential investors in New York, Orlando and other cities. This comes at a time when the male grooming industry is booming. A recent article by Forbes estimates that by 2020, it will be a $26 billion global industry. Online men’s fashion retailer Mr. Porter reported a 300 percent increase in the sales of male grooming products on their site in 2015.

“The industry was growing and we noticed it,” Juan Carlos says.

The Spot’s annual revenue increased 110 percent from 2016 to 2017. The Perdomos attribute this industry growth to current hairstyle trends and social media.

Anyone who has observed the human male in the wild in the last few years can see that beards are back, bringing with them a resurgent demand for grooming. “The last time beards were in style was the 1880s to the 1920s,” Juan Carlos says. “Today, men want a beard, but they don’t want to mess it up at home. They depend on us to make it look good.”

Fredis says the most in-demand looks today refer back to styles from the 1920s and 1950s, like pompadours and side-swept comb overs. He also says that social media, specifically Instagram, has created a virtual clearinghouse where barbers can post pictures of their work and future clients can search for inspiration, fueling more bookings.

At the heart of their business is the motto, God is Good, which is displayed prominently in every location.

“Every time my brother and I have been in a jam, God has always found a way to help us,” Juan Carlos says. “People lose faith. It’s easy to be negative, especially today. I look to Fredis as inspiration. He’s always mellow. He never freaks out. You know, a lot of people have gambled on us. It’s not a one-man team. We trust the process and live it. God is good.”

Hernandez adds: “I always say God is Good, true story. Look around us. We come from humble backgrounds. We’re hard workers. We kept the faith.”

The Spot Barbershop

Type of business: The Spot is a men’s barbershop with six locations throughout Miami offering classic barber haircuts and hot towel shaves in a welcoming environment.

Founded in 2001

Management: Fredis Perdomo, CEO and founder, master barber; Juan Carlos Perdomo, COO and founder; Diana Hernandez, vice president and partner.

Location: 1600 Ponce de Leon Blvd. in Coral Gables; additional locations on Coral Way and Calle Ocho and in Doral, Brickell and South Miami, with more on the way.

Number of employees: 60

Number of customers: 1,500 to 1,800 per month.

Average cost of a haircut: $30

Revenues: $700,000 average annual revenue per location; company had $2.5 million annual revenues in 2017, compared to $1.2 million annual revenues in 2016.

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