Inside Bishops Cuts/Color: Sharp-edged franchising

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Bishops Five Forks
Bishops Cuts and Color in Simpsonville. Photo by Will Crooks

Motown mixes with indie rock as stylists’ fingers fly, grasping scissors and A.T. Lockeshears. A gray-haired grandma settles into her chair under a huge wall mural featuring bushy beards and Upstate water towers. Beside her, a hipster requests teal tints in his mohawk.

“Greenville is evolving, and there’s a demographic that’s hungry for something different, something a bit edgier,” co-owner Kevin Trexler says, acknowledging the mix of generations.

Numbers show that clients are happy to return to the intentionally unconventional, urban-themed salon. Since opening in early February, Bishops at Five Forks has passed projections, averaging 20 clients a day. “We expected to break even in about 12-15 months, but we’re cutting that in half, which is kind of unheard of in a retail business,” Trexler says.

The trend-setting, a la carte salon serves baby boomers through Generation Z, with price points that rival value chains yet an experience similar to high-end salons. The 38-year-old Furman business grad scratches his carefully coifed head in wonder, reflecting on how he got into the hair care business.

Two Redheads and a Dream

Trexler is one of two redheads who make up Two Gingers Inc. His wife, Dr. Ashley Trexler, is the other. The entrepreneur and internist moved to Greenville in 2015 after living in a variety of locations and starting a family. Kevin spent years selling everything from lounge chairs to medical tubing and was ready to find a franchise as an investment and own his own business. “All of a sudden, I no longer had this desire to be in the C-suite of a large company,” he recalls. “I saw the lives they [chief executive officers] were living and I didn’t really want that anymore.”

His grandfather was a business owner, his dad a salesman. “Entrepreneurial spirit is in my blood,” he says.

A stylist at Bishops Cuts and Color. Photo by Will Crooks

The couple sought guidance from franchise consultant Michael Hall with FranNet in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After comparing investment and ownership obligations, their short list included storage-unit, window-washing, and HVAC companies. They settled on Bishops Cuts/Color out of Portland, Oregon. “I started looking at hair care and thought I was crazy! I didn’t know anything about cutting hair,” Trexler admits, chuckling. “But the business model made sense and I didn’t have to be the face of the company. I looked at what was going on in today’s economy, what’s going to work, what’s going to be a fad. Every person out there with hair is a potential client, and at least in my time, this is a business that can’t be cannibalized online by the Amazons of the world.”

The Franchise

Leo Rivera created Bishops in 2001 as an artsy yet affordable alternative to expensive salons, billing it as a “rock-n-roll barbershop.” The chain soon expanded down the West Coast and more recently crossed the country with sites going up in New York City, Atlanta, and Charlotte. Rivera’s team promotes efficient openings with minimal build-outs and predictable growth.

West Coast Clips With Southern Style

The Trexlers’ shop includes murals by local artists and serves local beer. “Right now, we’re carrying three beers from Brewery 85,” Trexler says, pointing to nearby cans. “That’s another reason we went with Bishops. They allow us to adapt their plans to our market. It’s important to create these local synergies and promote other small businesses here in Greenville.”

Although Trexler’s hair is short, his business plan is long, filled with ideas and ventures. “I love Bishops and what we’re doing here, but anybody with an entrepreneurial spirit is always thinking of what’s next.” He quickly turns and jogs to the shop entrance to greet a family of three walking in for a cut. The trio look around at their surroundings and smile.

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