Dapper owner Sean Brownfield tries and succeeds at fusing the old with the new at his downtown gentlemen’s barbershop.
Initially opened in August 2013, he’s created a business that takes its customers back to the 1910s-1920s when they enter, but has them leaving feeling new.
Having worked as a platform artist for Sexy Hair products for 13 years before launching his business, Brownfield got a firsthand look at modern hair styles and business platforms.
Brownfield opted for a business that sought to give men a place to get styled from head to toe, offering the expected haircut but also services such as old-style shaves, shoe shines, tailored shirts and clothing, and his most recent endeavor, a laser therapy room for hair restoration.
His mission goes deeper than the surface, though.
“The main thing we hope to accomplish is that every one of our members is extremely well-groomed and identifiable, not just by looks but by their demeanor – the way they respect and care for others, their business dealings,” he says. “We speak extensively together as a group on topics, such as chivalry and etiquette. This is not just in romance but with family, friends and business.”
While about 70 percent of Dapper’s business is the traditional walk-in or hair appointment, Brownfield adds another level to the gentlemen’s experience for those who choose to be members for $129 a month.
Dapper currently has 385 members who have access to The Hepburn, a secret speakeasy-type club in the basement of The Sterling. It can only be entered through a hidden door by thumbprint and pulling on the right book or painting that opens up a wall.
Within this membership, Brownfield has partnered with local businesses Scotch & Soda, The Coffee Ethic LLC and Modern Society LLC to plan monthly or quarterly events ranging from chili cook-offs and shooting competitions, to grill-outs and shopping outings.
Dapper also opened a new branch inside the Town & Country clothing store at the end of September.
Brownfield’s modus operandi is his attention to detail – from the barber chairs first crafted in 1895 to the ice manufactured on site, shaved and shaped to the best specifications needed for the perfect scotch on the rocks.
“I provided a space and some beautiful things have happened,” he says. “You create a space where the type of client you want there wants to be there.”
Dapper revenue has consistently grown about 35 percent each year, Brownfield says.
“If you look at my original business plan ... there were times I would write things and use terms like brotherhood and camaraderie. Then I would get up the next day and back-weigh it and say to myself ‘You’re expecting way too much,’” he says. “But boy was I wrong. It really has happened because we have such a good group of men.”
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