In the heart of Charleston, South Carolina, lives the Cigar Factory, a five-story brick behemoth erected in 1881. It started out as a textile mill and was later taken over by the American Tobacco Company—hence the current moniker— and cigars were manufactured there until the 1970s. But sadly, in the years that followed, the building remained mostly vacant and unloved. That is until 2014, when a real estate investment company purchased the Cigar Factory and transformed the structure into a high-end retail and event space without losing its charm and storied history.
One of the building’s many tenants is Barrelli Barber, which opened in June 2017. While the shop may be new, the owners are seasoned pros. Peter Evans and Laran Mattson worked together at another area salon for more than 20 years. Their combined experience—as well as the fact that they’re both parents to boys—made them acutely aware that a gap existed in the salon space that catered exclusively to men. “We know that men are looking for high-quality services, but they’re looking for something different than the feminine salon/spa concept,” says Mattson. “Their needs are similar to a woman’s, but the aesthetic and the approach are unique to them.”
The shop boasts eight chairs and 10 barbers, and the decor embraces the building’s long history. Ancient white paint flecks off of exposed brick walls, and distressed wooden ceilings add to the shop’s historic charm. Giant wooden mirror frames line the walls and carved wooden displays hold masses of product, including the shop’s own brand—appropriately named Barrelli Barber—which includes care, styling and grooming products. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the products,” says Evans. “We’ve even had women let us know they’ve started using their husband’s Barrelli products.”
Barrelli offers their guests several perks. In addition to providing a military discount and hosting many grooms’ parties, every Saturday there’s “Donuts With Dad,” ensuring that the next generation of boys enjoys going to the shop. Oh, and there’s also the complimentary beer and bourbon bar. But the clients aren’t the only ones who get shown the love: The shop provides amazing education. “We’ve already had in-house education from V76, Bumble and bumble, Nioxin, Wella Professionals and Reuzel, and we’ve gone off site for training with Hattori Hanzo,” exclaims Mattson. What’s more, the owners are committed to giving back to the local community. “We just hosted our second-annual back-to-school drive for a local boys’ home,” says Mattson. “We collect school supplies from clients, but we also bring the boys into the shop for complimentary back-to-school haircuts and a pizza party.” Sounds like history in the making.
[Images: Courtesy of Paul King Photography]