Q&A: Grooming a barbershop experience with a difference

 Q&A: Grooming a barbershop experience with a difference

This week we chat to Colm Flanagan, founding father of Adilla Barbers in Sydney's
Double Bay. Colm have been intent on growing the business as quickly as
possible, but the pandemic forced him to take a step back and evaluate the
business in detail – he reviewed, restructured and refocused on the client

CF: The inspiration came as I found myself jumping from barber to barber
searching for something beyond a great haircut. The opportunities for self-care
for men were scarce and a luxury barbershop appeared like a good place to start.
Salons were a choice but I didn't feel as comfortable in them. As my career
progressed my workload increased and so I found myself looking for something
indulgent outside of gyms and pubs.

An idea was born. What if we could combine the appearance, feel, and quality
of the classic barbershop with the beauty services and experience of a salon to
ultimately create a space where men can feel confident enough to truly relax?

CF: The danger factor was two-pronged. Consumer confidence
was a problem – you could literally track sales on a graph in-line with COVID
updates by Scott Morrison and also the state premier. This challenge was tough, not
knowing when we would be open, and even if we were, would anyone come.

Secondly, the number of clients allowed in the shop,
and whether that would be viable to keep the doors open. So, we set out
to cecome a destination. When we were shut down we re-evaluated our services,
books and marketing. We skilled up on professional facials and incorporated
them into our services, with the hope they would be attractive to those men
feeling locked down and give us higher revenue per client.

CF: We've always combined both hair and sweetness services for men to
offer something different. When we first started we offered Deluxe packages
which took a while for the market to adopt. However, in time clients began to
love these services and validation came when many other barbershops began to
“mimic” our menu. Understanding that home-schooling, working from home and
being unable to travel pushed people into feeling trapped, we ramped up our
knowledge on skincare and committed to the equipment and products needed to
create the Adilla Escape – a combined skin and hair service giving our clients
an “escape”, if for just an hour.

CF: The brands are intertwined. We used the Adilla name within the salon
because it was established in the market and we wanted to leverage that. Operationally,
the barbershop has been building an individual brand in which a salon is built on
individual stylists that actually work within a brand – hence its name, Adilla colab.

In relation to choosing products, teams, branding, and PR events they're
essentially similar, so we can study from each business and know very well what has
worked and what hasn't.

CF: The vision would be to create a destination for men's
wellbeing. We want to continue to grow our services, our range of products, and
overall, our experiences for men. In addition, we will continue to use
bodies like mightandmane.org to make sure we are giving back where applicable.

CF: Know your books, possess a clear business vision and accept what you
can't control.

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