When Stefan Degale and Jaz Bailey noticed the small brick storefront, sandwiched between a realtor’s workplace and a nondescript condo constructing, they’d a imaginative and prescient. “We noticed the chance to be on the forefront of change for an space that type of wants it,” says Degale.
To many, Gerrard Avenue East within the Higher Seashores isn’t precisely the peak of hipness, however is a household neighbourhood of towering oaks and century-old semis. “It’s just like the suburbs with a streetcar,” says Degale, 34.
He and Bailey are barbers — Degale was Bailey’s instructor on the Toronto Fade Grasp Academy, a college he ran till 2019. That 12 months, on Bailey’s thirty first birthday, they determined to workforce as much as deliver a modern downtown barber store to a neighbourhood higher identified for its canine parks and yard gross sales. In January 2020, they opened Legacy Barber Co. in the unassuming Gerrard Street storefront.
Their store has the tony vibe of a cocktail lounge or artwork gallery. On the uncovered brick partitions, painted a gleaming white, grasp florid hip-hop portraits by Toronto artist Nashid Chroma. A black and white barber pole spins out entrance.
The kind of precision cuts Legacy excels in — fades, lineups, combovers (the great type) — will be unforgiving. “It’s the small issues that change it fully from a great lower to a fantastic lower,” Bailey says, “particularly whenever you’re speaking about fading. One flick can mess up your entire haircut, and a pair extra may deliver the entire lower collectively.” They showcase their expertise on Instagram (@legacybarber.co), their web page stuffed with time-lapse fades and the ASMR rustle and buzz of clippers, blades and shears.
The neighbourhood quickly took discover. “It’s very Toronto,” says David Cathcart, 45, a father of three who has lived within the space for 4 and a half years. “I can go in there and get my haircut, after which some tremendous cool-looking man is available in and will get his haircut. And we’re all from the identical metropolis.”
“So long as you possibly can create an surroundings that’s pleasant,” Bailey says, “folks from all walks of life are going to return out.”
By March 2020, Legacy Barber Co. was a vacation spot. Then got here COVID. Simply three months after it opened, the store was compelled to shut. It might keep shut for almost a 12 months in whole. Degale, who constructed railroads earlier than choosing up the clippers, took up daytrading to make ends meet, whereas Bailey made housecalls.
The enterprise survived by the loyalty of their shoppers. “Individuals requested us how we’re doing, purchased present playing cards that they nonetheless haven’t used,” Degale says. “We now have a fantastic assist system.”
With the addition of brothers JR and Rezo Esquivel, Legacy is now a four-man crew. “We need to keep lean and imply,” Degale says. “COVID confirmed us that it will probably all be taken away as shortly because it comes.” He hopes the precautions Legacy and different salons have taken over the previous two years will shield his business from being additional ravaged by an unpredictable pandemic. “Everybody’s masked, everybody’s gloved,” he says. “We solely go by appointment, so we all know who’s coming in, who’s going out, what time they have been right here. Barbershops will be one of many most secure locations to be throughout a pandemic.”
The shoppers are again, and with them, Degale and Bailey’s hopes for his or her neighbourhood. “It’s about neighborhood on the finish of the day,” says Degale. “We’ve gotten folks prepared for job interviews, for his or her weddings, for main components of their life. We need to get again to that.”
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