Small business profile: CADMEN - Hair Studio for Men

The typical interaction between a man and a barber is more of a chore than a pampering. Most barber shops miss on the niche market that is a high-end male salon-type shop, which is where CADMEN strikes a bullseye.

Marina Kolpakova and Francis Paua are the owners of CADMEN, formerly known as GQ Hair Studios. 

The CAD in CADMEN refers to the abbreviation of the Canadian Dollar -  Canadian Men. Kolpakova says a name like CADMEN gives reference to their target market in that they are world class, but also diverse and unique. Kolpakova says CADMEN is a fresh take on the monotonous male haircut experience. 

"All the barbershops right now are either very old school, very not up to date, or if you want really good service you have to go to a salon, where they actually don't [specialize in] men's haircuts." said Kolpakova, who added with, “There’s nothing with high quality hair cuts where they know how to do all types of hair; they know how to do fades, along with high quality service.”

Top-notch service is another aspect in which CADMEN separates themselves from the everyday barbershop. At the bottom of their price list is a menu of complimentary drinks: coffee, tea, espresso, and hot cocoa.

“We have customers that will just come and hang out, invite each other to parties, so those customers become our friends too,” said Kolpakova, “We have a really good retention rate in terms of clients coming back.”

The direction of the company is guided by a set of priorities. One of the first priorities on that list is to work with the government to create a nationally recognized license. They offer barber classes on the first Monday of every month.

“We want to be one of the first barber schools who have a recognized nation-wide certificate program,” said Kolpakova.

Another big priority on the to-do list is expansion beyond their Mississauga location at Lakeshore & Clarkson Road, with their sights set on a possible downtown shop. With these grand plans comes satisfaction not just for customers, but for employees as well.

Kolpakova says, “They have an unlimited amount of opportunities within the company. If they want to be educators, our goal is to open up a school. If they want to own their own barbershop our goal is to expand and have more locations.”

Such grand plans need to be met with effective advertising strategies to expand the customer base. CADMEN don’t do the average when it comes to advertising, because they don’t offer an average service. Kolpakova says she is always thinking of new ways to attract customers to the shop. She has tried the traditional ad campaigns, but found that if those don't bring customers to the chair, she had to find a way to bring the chair to the customer. 

They have held events at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week and Canada’s Walk of Fame, which has ultimately led to being the official barber for the Raptors 905. 

All of this attention has brought about new avenues to travel for the company. One of those avenues is mobile barbering, another way of bringing the chair to the customer. Transitions like these obviously take tons of time and effort, so Kolpakova says when starting a business, you need to follow your heart and take the plunge. 

“The reason why 95% of people don't do anything is because they think they have to have this major plan, everything planned out, everything lined up. In reality it will never, ever start off like that. You literally just have to know your goal and take the first step.”