Cutting Hair, Not Corners
By Tanner Boyle
As my first article for the newly active Y’s Thoughts Blog, I thought it appropriate to cover a student business just as up-and-coming.
I met with Ben Trunnel, who along with business partners and fellow business students Ben Tiger and Vihar Desu is starting a new incarnation of a business that has not been present at WashU for quite some time: a barbershop.
While a barbershop has existed as a student business on campus before, Trunnel says that the new business model his team of students and stylists is bringing to the university is more innovative, tapping into the needs of the student body.
Trunnel understands keenly the inconvenience of getting a haircut for WashU students, citing the distance local barbershops are from campus and the subpar quality of these establishments.
“A group of students and I actually took an Uber to Great Clips just to justify the cost of going there,” he told me.
His partners had a similarly dissatisfying experience at A Cut above the Rest, which is, along with Great Clips, is the closest barbershop to campus. There they encountered haircuts they were not entirely content with.
“In addition to the inconvenience, it is also hard to find a barbershop that will give a quality haircut,” admits Trunnel.
To address this need, Trunnel, Desu, and Tiger pooled their business knowledge and experiences to create a new and, they hope, better experience for WashU students.
The Bear Cuts’ staff will include two stylists with more than ten years of experience. Trunnel says he intends for the shop to have a “modern look and a personal feel, because students are running it.”
The business also aims to please each individual customer with options of music, free water and the choice of whether or not the student wants to talk to their stylist.
“We really want to customize it so each student gets what they want in a haircut,” says Trunnel.
The business intends to operate as a booth rental structure where the stylists pay fees to be independent contractors. It aims to avoid the disconnect inherent in the structure of the older version of the barbershop and be fair to the stylists and the owners. Trunnel says the business “definitely sees (itself) becoming successful.”
In fact, based on surveying, if the business connects with half of the market, Trunnel says it will be very successful. The business is tailored to both men and women who need a quality trim without straying too far from campus.
You can check out Bear Cuts on Facebook or visit their website at www.bearscutswashu.com for more information. Once the business is open, you can book appointments through this web address.
With a tentative opening in mid-October, Bear Cuts will appear next to the many student business that line the bottom of the Gregg building. I may just have to make myself due for a trim when that date comes up.
Y’s Thoughts Blog Writer