Upperclass Int'l interrupts your am/pm With Loungewear Collection

Take a ride with me....

As we drive pass the illuminating lights of New York City and travel across the river to New Jersey. Some may argue it falls into the shadows because of "Brother" Big Apple but neglect this State of creativity that emerges on those same metropolitan blocks. Within that table of influence comes a NJ based apparel brand, Upperclass International spearheaded by entrepreneur & artist TwonDon. If his name doesn't ring any bells, you must not be looking close enough. TwonDon grew up in The Garden State with an immediate pull into music tapping into his artistry with a slew of projects like Stay Golden EP, international tours and collaborations. Upon his career as a full time artist, TwonDon has expanded his creativity palette operating his own apparel line, UpperClass International. It's an independent ship with an operation that would have you thinking he's an army on the 30th floor in New York's corporate building. Nonetheless, TwonDon has introduced Groom Guy to his recent line that flows seamlessly in our visual lens. After purchasing the signature robe, my morning coffee sessions will never be the same.

I had an opportunity quickly chat with TwonDon on how he moved from recording to production studio on his latest apparel release.

What's the story behind this recent collection? 

With this new collection, I wanted my consumers to own garments that still made them feel luxurious and rich in the comfort of their home. We all know that our home is where we feel like ourselves without being judged by the outside world but with these pieces, whether you're alone or have company over you still have the ability to look and feel good.

Though it's loungewear, I still wanted to create a quality collection because it'll most likely be worn more than anything else in your closet so it should: have longevity & be the first thing you resort too when relaxing. 
TwonDon, FOunder

Faux Mink Navy Rubbed paired the classic brand logo.

What's in the full apparel collection and what has inspired you? 

This collection consists of Faux Mink Robes, Oxford Flannel Pajamas, and sublimated tube socks. I want to change the dynamic for men who resort to a t-shirt and basketball shorts to kick it around the house. After a long day or even a day of relaxation we should cover our bodies in something that gives us a sense of royalty. As for women, I believe in the same thing. A lot of brands don't put much thought into loungewear so I want to break the mold and be an example that just because it's mostly worn in private, doesn't mean no thought shouldn't go into it. 

How does a grooming routine play into your every day life as a recording artist and business owner? 

A grooming routine plays a big part in my day and life because I believe you have to look the part to be the part. As a musician I'm always in the public eye so I take value in keeping a haircut, a manicure, great hygiene, what I eat, exercising and anything in between. As a businessman you want people to be able to look at you once and you have the image of someone they can trust. We live in a very judgmental world, so first impressions are important. I'm also a big believer that if you look and feel good, you perform even better. 

What does it mean to Stay Polish'd for you? 

Stay Polish'd to me coincides with my term of Stay Golden. So I say that to say it means to me that you should always stay on your toes, be well aware of your world, keep yourself together in the best manner you can, stay true to yourself and those around you, stay well grounded, stay true to what you believe in, and lastly value your physical appearance. 

List 3 things you CANNOT leave the house without. 

I can't leave the house without my wallet, my jewelry, and gum lol. 

Click image to purchase

Barbers are preventing suicide one haircut at a time [watch]

The barber-client relationship has always been one cultivated in consistency, honesty and for some....vulnerability. The interaction is a public forum and moments of therapy that gives clients the ability to translate their feelings in the chair. The haircut is the medicine. If you think I'm exaggerating, try not getting a haircut for two and half months and let me know how you're holding up. A prime example of my viewpoint is expressed below with a wonderful story that can speak to all of us.

After losing a friend to suicide, Tom Chapman decided to do something about the biggest killer of young men in the UK. In a personal, moving talk he tells us about the international movement he founded building on the unique relationship between barbers and their clients to prevent suicide and save lives.

Tom Chapman is a Torquay-based barber who has made it his mission to propel the stigma of mental ill health among men into the mainstream. In 2015 founded the Lions Barber Collective, an international group of barbers who have undergone training in how to recognize symptoms of mental ill health in clients and signpost them to relevant support services. The group helps to raise awareness of mental illness and aims to prevent suicide by creating training that enables barbers to recognize, talk and listen out for symptoms of depression. - Ted Talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjAQTH0aZJA&feature=emb_title

5 Major Considerations when Opening a Barbershop w/ Mikey Denton

(In the words of shop owner Mikey Denton)

So there’s a lot that goes into opening a business. Then you'll realize how much more goes into after you open. Especially if you are like me and did not have any type of business degree or certification. 

Identify Yourself: Owner or Haircutter

You should pick what you want to focus more on: Do you want to cut behind the chair or do you want to be an owner/operator? Because you need to put effort into one to do it right. Trust me, putting your eggs in different baskets will continue to be challenging. I did not open with the intention of not cutting anymore. Now it can be totally different for a small shop with two to three chairs, booth rental, no front desk, no retail store kind of shop which a lot of people are totally content with. But if you want to run a well oiled machine with the full team operations, it’s going to take a lot of attention to detail. 

I want to cut for the rest of my career. I’ve always wanted to commit to cutting and have zero interest quitting and just owning a salon. 
Mikey denton

Work With Brands You Believe In

Supporting the super small guys is great but also you need to consider what distribution companies offer as well. Points, education, free back bar, etc. After several years we narrowed down the brands that are great, offer a variety of products and provide a lot of support. 

Mikey Denton

Depending But...Aim High With Prices 

Thats a vague statement yes. But starting with a low price then working up is difficult. We started at $30 then went to $32 and people lost their minds. Eventually we made our way to $35 but when I went up to $45 it wasn't that big of a deal but for the clients who had been paying $30, I was told "that's inflation". It wasn't because we didn't write out a proper business model. Some of us were booked several weeks in advance and were losing clients so you raise your prices. Not every stylist/barber is booked so others are at $35. The level system was put into place after a few years. We should have done a little more research before going with what was the "normal" model in my hometown. 

Be Intentional & Trust the Process

Open a business with the right intentions and after checking off all the boxes. Some people open a spot after being busy for a year and are "just doing what's best for their family.” I was that guy and I've heard plenty of other people say the same. Not realizing its not that simple and isn't the best next option. I wish I knew about studio suite models before opening to test the waters first. Studio suites (pictured above) allow you to be your own business for 6 months to a year, without the small business headaches. If you are booked up enough to run a successful studio suite, then add staff or apprentices. If that works and you got a well oiled machine, then look into your own space. For a lot of people that has been the better option. At the same time people who own a business have downsized by moving into a studio suite and prefer it. Just don't rush into anything and don't take money from any person who wants to "invest.” TRUST ME. 

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Mikey Denton currently resides in Portland, Oregon and get can be reached www.mikeydenton.com. Contact him on Instagram @mikeydenton.


'The Art of Shaving' Reflects on the Craft Behind the Barber Chair [WATCH]

Groom Guy is a place that sees the barber as the holy priesthood of mens hair culture. They're the recognized caretakers that foster lifetime relationships and crafts people that cultivate art with electric clippers, scissors, and a razor. These simple tools have been passed down for centuries and still exist strongly within ever changing culture of industrial innovation. I've got to give it to brand The Art of Shaving for painting a wonderful portrait of the industry by highlighting the barber-client relationship that is timeless, therapeutic and life changing. The healing powers of the barber have never been more clear and its a narrative Groom Guy holds dear. Here's an excerpt from their recent campaign & watch the full video below.

For the new campaign, The Art of Shaving pays homage to the community that barbershops foster, while also finding ways to recreate such spaces within the contemporary climate. The barbershop is where a man’s personal style meets his grooming routine and Falguni Desai, the CEO of The Art of Shaving, views it as “a place of social interaction and a place where men learn from each other, give each other advice and help each other in various ways – beyond grooming.” As a response to the stay-at-home measures from COVID-19, The Art of Shaving has launched a Virtual Barbershop on Instagram where Master Barbers give tips on facial grooming and at-home haircuts. “The space was curated by our Master Barbers from across the country and we also partnered with some influential celebrity barbers,” explains Desai. “We wanted to offer our barbers and community a place to tell their stories during these uncertain times, just like people would in a physical barbershop.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vl6Uz8clSA4&feature=emb_title

CoVID19: Build your barber shop at home (with these)....

You miss your barber more than you miss your mama. Reopening is still unclear. You just want a hot towel.

From the fresh smell of eucalyptus to the steaming towels to warm greeting, it was all you imagined gearing up for a haircut. Now we’re confined at home with nothing but the imagination of the traditional barbershop. It’s during this pandemic we’re reminded how much our barber-stylist really means to us. As we look ahead, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions including when your next haircut will be in a normally operated shop. The normal errand of visiting the shop was a wonderful interruption to your day. Here’s a small opportunity to revive that magical place of tonsorial craftsmanship and an environment that always gave you peace of mind once entered. While some of us may not have access to industry’s top tier equipment, below is a quick tool-selection you can gather at home to recreate the whole shop experience. 

BARBER SHOP ART

Most barber shops are not only packed with patrons but displays. Many sections are equipped with walls showcasing famous portraits or art that reflects the creative direction of the brand. Old or new, black or white, these pieces add some personality and maybe even inspire you to grab some stashes for your own “cave” at home. Sites like Ebay collect vintage portraits that sell for under $10 and sites like Michaels that carry affordable frames. Popular barber shop icons like The Rat Pack, Jimi Hendrix, Muhammed Ali or even James Dean are examples. I grew up noticing historical barber shop images like the classic barber pole, razor, chair, or signage that brings shop nostalgia stemming from childhood from some. 

Classic Ali image is a favorite.

BARERSHOP CAPES

These are the official uniform of the modern barber-stylist. MJ had number “23” on the Chicago Bulls while barbers have capes that have been institutionalized worldwide shops since the 18th century. Comparable to athletes, hairstylists need this to get on/off their field. Traditional capes can be found online or customizable ones are quite popular on sites like Etsy. You can simply design your name or logo on a cape and store it for traveling purposes or any home grooming duties. Be sure to confirm the correct length you wish to order. You don’t want to end up ordering a short cape that looks like a baby bibb. 

OILS (EUCALYPTUS) 

This probably one of the first smells that gets greeted to your nose when you step in. The oils are a part of the shaving experience that adds immediate comfort and aromatic pleasure. They’re equipped with properties that stimulate the body, increase blood flow and temporary resolve any acne-prone areas by soothing the skin. Eucalyptus oil is a popular one in most shops since it's paired with hot towels and even paired with an oil diffuser. Traditional candles smell great but run the risk of hot wax spills, potential fire starters, and possibly transmitting black smoke.

HOT TOWEL MACHINE 

The holy grail of the barbershop is this bad boy here! You’ll become acquainted with these before a beard trim or hot towel shave in the shop. Infused with oils like eucalyptus, its icing on the cake for many clients as a welcomer and a finisher. If you have the space, you can order this machine at home for your friends. There are added responsibilities like remaining equipped with a handful of towels, over-burning and cleaning the machine. Hot towels are perfect for that shave experience and overall stress reliever. Don't spend more than $100 or so on a machine that gets the job done.

BARBER CHAIR

They’re prestigious, dashing, handsome and so welcoming. Barber chairs are hailed as symbols of the workforce economy in American society. Popularized in the early 1900s by German inventor, Ernest Koken (Koken Chairs), his signature chairs and many global companies have revolutionized the business with the engineering of comfort and flexibility. The sizes can vary based on the construction and material. Like boxing, there’s different weight classes so be mindful of what you can convince your partner or roommate to put in your place together. If you’re solo, then the world is yours on a barber chair that can be a perfect home decor for guests! 

Koken Barber Chairs