WAYNE, N.J. — Two brothers from Wayne are following their dreams to business success with the expansion of their stylized barber shop.
It all started with three chairs in Little Falls.
Jeff and Joe Agnello launched City Looks in 2009, with Jeff working full time cutting hair and Joe handling the business aspects and branding.
"Our goal was always that we were going to grow the business and open multiple shops. We purposely branded it in a way to expand," said Joe, 31.
After growing Little Falls to seven chairs and expanding to Oradell in 2013, Agnello said they were ready to branch out again in 2016.
They opened a shop in Newton, already with an experienced manager in place who had been commuting to the Little Falls store.
"He had been with us for years and kept asking us to go up there. The right opportunity came along."
There's a chance that the Newton manager could eventually become a partner, something the brothers encourage when there's the right fit.
"We want to bring our barbers in as owners, the ones who have the entrepreneurial drive, who have that mentality and want to grow with the company," he said.
That kind of synergy just happened at City Looks and former employee Izak Orero is now a new partner running the Oradell location.
"He started with Jeff at Little Falls as a part time barber. Now he’s like a brother to us. His business sense is great. He saw the vision and saw what we wanted to achieve."
The brothers also opened a retail wholesale shop over the summer, located on Route 46 in Clifton. It caters to men's products and supplies both barber shops and the public.
City Looks filled a niche in suburbia that Agnello says is fueled by old-fashioned compliments.
"When you get a compliment, you want to get those compliments again. So people want to go back to that place again."
He said people say their hair looks "so much better when we do it."
"There are certain little things that we do that will make it look better, things that someone cutting women's hair aren’t use to."
The cuts are popular with youth and men who want an urban style but don't want to go to the inner cities.
"These haircuts were always around but now they’ve expanded from urban-only areas into the wealthier suburbs. The kids used to travel to urban areas to get these cuts."
He said Little Falls is "edgier, trendier" making it a little easier to break into than Oradell.
"When we first got in there (Oradell), we created a buzz about different kinds of haircuts. Customers were used to getting haircuts every month to five weeks and now it's a lot more frequent because they love how their hair looks," he said.
"It’s a more detailed haircut. We take more time," he added.
Educating people is key, especially since a lot of men aren't used to taking care of their hair.
One client from Fair Lawn, Sal Polisi, 26, loves that the barbershop keeps it professional with scheduled appointments, as opposed to other places that only take walk-ins leaving customers waiting and waiting for a chair to open up.
Izak Orero, who was cutting Polisi's hair, saw his mom cutting hair at a young age and said he was practically hypnotized by it. He followed in her foot steps and went to beautician school, and now works for the locally-owned chain.
Jeff Agnello started cutting hair in high school, deciding to give it a test run.
"From Day One he had a knack for it. He was suddenly in high demand," Joe Agnello said.
Right after high school Jeff went straight to cosmetology school and graduated three months early, passing the test on his first try, one of just two in the class to do so. After nine months working at a shop in Bloomfield, he was ready to go solo.
"We wanted a barber shop with the feel of a salon. The other barber shops, they were old and had a dirty feel."
City Looks is a place "moms feel good about dropping their sons off" and men from all walks of life can get a stylish cut.
Agnello said they're not sure where they will expand next, but he knows they would like to go outside of New Jersey.
"We've had people ask us about Tennessee and Canada. We're not ready for that. It's a slow process."
For more information about City Looks, see its website or call (973) 638-1131.
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