As the name suggests, Old Familiar Barber Shop offers traditional grooming services, like straight razor shaves. However, the shop’s owner, Kenji Prince, is thinking outside the box to offer experiences that are anything but dated.
Like many barbers, Prince dreamed of opening his own shop, “a place where you get to make the rules and tell your kind of jokes,” he says.
“I want to earn a living, but I also want to have fun in life,” he adds. “This is my way of doing both.”
Old Familiar is slated to open in early 2012 at 116 Parsons Ave. in Olde Towne East. Why did Prince choose that particular location?
“It’s across from my favorite bar,” he says, meaning Carabar.
Though Prince claims he hasn’t used any local business assistance resources and has no business experience, he is confident that Old Familiar will prosper.
“In the past, I have worked for extremely smart, business-minded people and I have worked for idiots,” he says. “I am hoping to take lessons from both and use them to my advantage.”
However, he does rely on colleagues for guidance.
“Most barbers stick together,” he says. “I often visit my friends working at shops all over the city just to stay connected. The good guys that already own shops are always willing to help out with some advice.”
He’s also gotten help and support from Ron Barker and the crew at Carabar, J. Brett Prince at Short North Tattoo, Kareem Jackson at Milk Bar, and Josh Quinn at Tigertree.
One way Prince is financing the business is through the “Familiar For Life” program. For $500, members get their name on one of the shop’s walls (making them an Old Familiar founding father), an antique shaving mug, and a free shave and haircut on your birthday for the rest of their life.
Prince’s friend and client Stuart Hunter, founder of roll, came up with the idea for the program.
“It’s geared toward my friends and family who want to help, but do not want to just donate,” Prince says.
When describing what clients should expect at Old Familar, he says it will “look and feel different from most shops.”
“Our shirt design is unreal,” he adds. “We will have events that get guys interested in checking us out for more reasons than just shaves and haircuts. We can also legally marry people. Get cleaned up and tied down at Old Familiar.”
So far, Prince says the biggest challenges he’s faced on the road to business ownership is meeting deadlines and living up to his own “big-mouthed promises of grandeur.” Also, discovering that no one cares about getting the shop up and running as much as he does.
Ultimately, Prince hopes to find some success doing things his way, “without having to kiss someone’s ass on a daily basis.”
To learn more about Old Familiar Barber Shop, visit OldFamiliarBarberShop.com.
All Photos by Adam Lowe Photography.