In the world of men’s grooming and fitness, there are a lot of brands out there. Most of the successful ones have done well connecting to the obvious emerging market segment of frat guys and smart millennials, while ignoring the fact that they’re only focusing on a very small piece of the pie.
“Nobody is talking to the guys who go Kith, or wear Supreme, or work out at Tone House,” remarked Artisan Barber founder Charlie McCoy. And while the first two brands (Kith and Supreme), have, in recent years entered the mainstream’s consciousness; boutique fitness studio Tone House is a mostly under-the-radar phenomenon poised to explode.
Part of the driving force behind the “unleash your inner athlete” gym’s success is its Head Coach and Senior Training Manager, Shaun Jenkins. And Shaun attributes part of his success to Charlie. “He made me look immaculate,” Shaun boasts of Charlie’s skills. “First impressions mean everything. If you walk into a studio and look disheveled with your hair everywhere and your beard unkempt, nobody will take you seriously. Fitness is a vanity-driven business.”
Refreshingly, the pair of entrepreneurs’ relationship extends beyond symbiotic lip service. They met in 2012 when Charlie was working at the Kiehl’s Spa on Lexington, and Shaun was a trainer at Equinox. Charlie would take Shaun’s classes and Shaun availed himself of Charlie’s barbering services. Over time, a friendship developed.
“In the New York social and business ecosystem, it’s important to find someone with mutual interest where you can both benefit from friendship and expertise,” Charlie says of their friendship.
A large part of what makes the pair kindred spirits is their iconoclastic approach to defying trends and conventional wisdom in everything from staffing to self-branding. Shaun has helped grow Tone House’s business by eschewing the model of hiring only trainers to work with his clients.
”I prefer to bring former collegiate or pro athletes onto my staff. I also like to think outside the box and hire dancers.” Shaun boasts. Similarly, Charlie puts equal emphasis on personality and skill when bringing in new stylists to Artisan Barber. “I like to bring in stylists whose talents also include the kind of personality that people want to come in and chill with,” Charlie asserts.
That ethos also extends to challenging the idea of how people expect the guardians of their grooming and physique to behave.
“I reject the philosophy that in wellness you have to be perfect,” Shaun expounds. “I openly smoke cigars on my social media. I openly discuss how much I love Macallan 30.”
And while Shaun calls his business “vanity-driven,” his core sensibilities are paradoxically rooted in spirituality. “I feel that my job is about helping people on the deepest level understand their own vulnerability and self-love. I help people fall in love with their bodies. I help them get over the fact that their abs may not yet be at that goal they set for themselves and discover who they are as an individual. For me it’s about self-love and how do you find a path to self-love.”
Unsurprisingly, Charlie has a parallel business philosophy that stems from his passion for travel and desire to learn from and grow an international brotherhood of barbers. “My aim is to increase community wellness through grooming expertise by teaching and learning. If you look good, you feel good. And that spreads out wherever you go and whatever you do.”
Carson eCommerce Collaborator