By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News
FLORENCE, S.C. — The Mailroom Barber & Studio became the latest addition to Florence’s thriving downtown, opening up its new shop Tuesday morning.
The Mailroom Barber & Studio, at 116 S. Irby St., had a location on Cashua Drive for close to two years before making the decision to move downtown.
Robert Watkins, owner of the shop, said the new location allows the business to serve more clients and offer a better experience.
“This is just a better place for us to offer a greater customer experience,” Watkins said. “The downtown community is really growing up fast and we want to be a part of it and add a staple business to the downtown area. We’re excited to get to put our name in the pot.”
Watkins said he began his barbering career by offering haircuts to his clients in a room in the back of “Smart Phone Repair,” named the “mailroom.”
“For me, I couldn’t really get a haircut that I was happy with, so I just started cutting hair for myself,” Watkins said. “I realized that it was a big problem in the community and I sort of just fell in love with barbering and the barber shop culture. At the time, I was studying photography in school, but I quit that and joined an apprenticeship. That’s how we kind of got started.”
The Mailroom offers conventional barber and salon services, as well as ethically sourced grooming products that customers can buy online or in the shop.
Watkins said the Cashua facility will be used for full-time production of the grooming products, which the business ships to more than 23 different countries.
“We make, package and ship our products from there,” Watkins said. “I realized that the stuff I was using didn’t really meet the standards I was going for, so I started making my own products. The goal in starting the product line was to offer products to people that were ethically sourced, all-natural and good for their hair and skin.”
Watkins said the move to the downtown location has been seamless because of the business’ client base. He said the barber studio seeks to offer a welcoming environment that is free from judgment.
“It’s a really big problem in salons, typically,” Watkins said. “They can be full of gossip and judgmental attitudes, so we strictly discourage that. Our clients don’t feel like someone’s going to talk about them when they walk out the door and that’s one of the biggest parts of what we do. Our first day is going great and we look forward to continuing to grow here in this new location.”
Watkins said the best part of owning a barbershop is being able to work with his clients and encourage his staff.
“Many customers come in and they may be disappointed in their hair or they feel a lack of confidence,” Watkins said. “I enjoy being able to walk them to a place where they feel a true confidence in their appearance. That’s really where I find my fulfillment in it and I get to deeply connect in an age-old tradition. I also love getting to build up other barbers and stylists. We’ve created a tight-knit family here and I really love getting to stand under them and lift them as a staff, help them grow in their craft and have their back.”
The studio is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.