How Blind Barber Reinvented the Grooming Game

It happens to the best of us: you map out your career, you take all the right classes, you do all the legwork to land your dream job, then you realize, oh . . . this is not for me. Jeff Laub, the mastermind behind Blind Barber, is no stranger to this vicious cycle. It happened to him twice within the span of just a couple years (more on that later). That’s enough to give any young professional pause, but the guy who helped reinvent the speakeasies didn’t let a couple false starts stand in his way. “The plan was to be a lawyer,” says Laub. “That’s what I always thought I was supposed to be. You go through life picking careers as a kid and you work toward that. I realized later in life how silly that is. I never realized that there’s so much more out there until my back was up against the wall.”

After graduating from NYU, he found work as a paralegal while he prepped for law school. He hated it. Laub reevaluated his life and went back to his roots: the salon. He practically grew up in hair salons where his mother worked, taking odd jobs while soaking up the culture. So, Laub signed up for cosmetology school, hellbent on cutting hair and actually enjoying his job. He crushed the written part of the curriculum, but that was only half the battle. “The day I had to wash someone’s hair, I was like, I can’t do this; this is the most disgusting thing ever,” he says. “I had a temper tantrum with myself and just left class.”

 

jeff-laub-howd-you-get-that-job

 

By this point, Laub had reached peak frustration with himself and with his career decisions. Luckily, an unfiltered conversation with his grandfather led to a revelation. “So I’m venting, saying that I’m stuck, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he recalls. “Then my grandfather said something along the lines of, ‘Ah, Jeffrey, I loved my barbershop. You get a haircut, play cards, drink some beer.’ It was a cartoon light bulb moment. I realized I don’t care about cutting hair. I want that.”

 

mens-short-sleeve-shirt-crew-neck-tee-dark-wash-365-comfort-jeans

GET THE LOOK, LEFT TO RIGHT: Slim Striped Short Sleeve Short, Garment Dyed Crew Neck Tee, 365 Comfort Jeans

That lightbulb quickly materialized into a business plan that would serve as the foundation for Blind Barber as we know it now. The original Easy Village shop’s vibe harkens back to the glory days of getting your haircut—it’s a place where guys can sit around, drink beer, and swap war stories. And there’s a bonus play: Behind a nondescript sliding metal door, you’ll find a perfectly curated, cozy bar turning out premium cocktails and bites. It was an instant hit, and now Blind Barber can be found in six cities across the United States. Laub continues to push brand beyond its brick and mortar walls, launching a line of grooming products, partnering with athletes, venturing into content creation. “It’s all about providing a place that not only makes you look good, it makes you feel good.

We caught up with Laub at Blind Barber’s newest location in Highland Park to glean some entrepreneurial insights from his unconventional professional journey.

 

1. Find the Strength to Bounce Back

“There were a million roadblocks in the beginning, and they still pop up today—probably once a week. Getting people in the doors the first three months was a major hurdle. I was really sweating it because there were 10 people at the bar. The one key thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is resiliency. Because if you stick with it, you’re going to figure things out and fix your mistakes along the way, and your business will grow as others cave in. It’s really hard to keep pushing forward when everything is falling apart around you. But then all of sudden you get that little glimpse of a light. Next thing you know everything brightens up.”

 

blind-barber-shop

 

2. Never Stop Learning. Ever.

“Put the work in to continue learning. For a while, I was complacent as someone who always figured out a way to just get by. Being nimble and crafty is super important, for sure. But I’ve reached a point now where I battle with imposter syndrome. I mean I’ve never had another real job. The position I occupy within Blind Barber I’ve taught myself. Now I want to work toward being an expert in the number crunching, the process. Everything before had been very shoot-from-the-hip, and now I’m trying to become a little more organized so that everything becomes easier.  Learning the process and putting one in place is great because if you need to audible—or make a last minute decision— you have a little more confidence and security in doing so. Studying, going back to school again. That’s something I wish I would’ve done right from the get-go.”

 

mens-denim-shirt-black-jeans-boots

GET THE LOOK, LEFT TO RIGHT: Gray Western Denim Shirt, Black 365 Comfort Jeans, Leather Chelsea Boots

3. You Can Have Side Hustles Within Your Main Hustle

“All my side hustles are within Blind Barber, and that’s one of the coolest things about this business. We don’t just sell haircuts. We have a bar, we do events, we create product, we do collaborations, we have different art projects. What I do at Blind Barber has legitimately touched pretty much every industry on the planet. It stems from the ethos of what we believe a barbershop is about: conversations and instilling confidence.”

 

4. Look Beyond Your Industry for New Ideas

“I look everywhere for inspiration. The only place I don’t look is within my own industry. I couldn’t care less what everyone else is doing. I pay attention to every other industry outside of grooming. Could be smart, could be stupid. For me, I don’t want to be on the treadmill next to someone else and catch their pace. I want to run at my own speed, and I want to be inspired by everything outside this industry so we can bring a fresh take to it. I’m not just interested in pomade. I’m interested in art. I’m interested in fashion. I’m interested in hospitality and tech. I want to know what they’re doing, and can that apply to what we’re doing here.”

 

jeff-laub

 

5. Don’t Limit Your Growth Potential

“In 10 years, I hope we’re known as a brand that’s cultivated a lifestyle within the company and becomes more well-known to those outside consumers. I want people to feel like they’re part of the crew. Right now we have glimpses of that. I also hope we’ll end up with locations in all the cities we love. It’s fun to roll up to a place and always have a spot to drink and get a haircut.”

 

mens-cotton-sateen-suit-cotton-crew-neck-tee-suede-oxfords

GET THE LOOK, LEFT TO RIGHT: Extra Slim Cotton Sateen Suit, Stretch Cotton Crew Neck Tee, Suede Oxfords