Barber Twins

Two brothers aim to turn luxury men's grooming up a notch

When Damian and Jermaine Johnson opened their No Grease! barbershop in Charlotte in 1997, it was just the two of them, working hard and passing out fliers to attract customers. Within two years, though, their shop was filled with customers -- and subsequently twelve barbers. Now, nine years later, the identical twin brothers, thirty-five, are owners of a barber franchise in Charlotte that includes a barber college -- the No Grease School of Tonsorial Arts -- and three barbershops (locations on Central Avenue, in Eastland Mall, and in Gold Hill Pavilion), with a fourth, an upscale barber lounge, opening in October.

Damian moved to Charlotte in 1991 to attend Johnson C. Smith University, while Jermaine continued to work as a barber in their hometown of Buffalo, New York. After graduating and working as a barber in Charlotte for a couple of years, Damian convinced his brother to move here to embark on what they'd always envisioned: owning their own barbershops.

"Most barbershops exist with talent only, people who have a talent to cut hair," Jermaine says. "But when you mix someone with a business spirit and they have the talent, then you're more motivated to look at it on a larger scale."

Opening their fourth location this fall inside Time Warner Cable Arena is the Johnson brothers' most ambitious project yet. The 2,000-square-foot, eight-chair shop will be an upscale barber lounge featuring full male grooming, massage therapy, a nail technician, shoeshine, VIP areas, and club membership. There are other upscale barbershops uptown, but the brothers insist their customers will have an enhanced experience because their shop is run by barbers -- not businessmen -- who understand the service that customers desire. They also expect to attract A-list clients, including many of the Bobcats (Damian's been cutting Bobcats owner Bob Johnson's hair for years).

"The atmosphere will be a cigar-type lounge, but without the cigars," Damian says. "We're just going back to the old ways of doing things, where men can get the haircut and level of service they're expecting."

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