Corktown barbershop to build on success of beard balms

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News

Ferndale-based Detroit Grooming Co. developed oils, balms and shampoos to help men fashion their beards, and now the owners are opening a Corktown barbershop where they can trim their clients’ whiskers, too.

“Beard oil used to be this mysterious thing,” said company co-owner Michael Haddad.

Grooming Co. co-owners Michael Haddad and Chad Buchanan said they’ll get the keys to one of the storefronts of the newly restored historic building at 2000 Michigan Ave. in October. They should be open by the end of the year, less than a year after they opened their first shop on Woodward in Ferndale with their third partner, Shaun Walford.

The company will fill one of the retail spaces in Scot Turnbull’s newly renovated 136-year-old building between the Gaelic League Irish American Club and the White Castle on Michigan, which The Detroit News reported was under construction in July.

The 3-year-old company is Haddad’s brainchild. The partners said their business hasn’t followed the traditional pattern of growth for a company specializing in hair and skin grooming products. Grooming brands like Paul Mitchell and Vidal Sassoon developed product lines after establishing reputation as prime salons. For Detroit Grooming, the products came first in 2013 when Haddad made a high-quality beard oil to tame the forest on his face. He called the oil “The Corktown,” and started selling it. At $21.95 for a 1-ounce bottle, their scented “grooming oils” are big hits among certain bearded urban males.

“Beard oil used to be this mysterious thing,” Haddad said, but more men are shelling out for high-quality oils and balms for their beards.

Haddad, Buchanan and Walford built the company on seven scented beard oils comprised of sweet almond oil and a proprietary blend of other plant-based essential oils and fragrances. With an inventory of more than 200 products, Detroit Grooming Co.’s beard oils, beard butter, beard shampoo, hair-styling products, shampoos, bar soaps and lip balms are all made, packaged and shipped from a 3,000-square-foot facility in Ferndale. Grooming Co. products are sold online, at their Ferndale location and in salons, boutiques and hipper stores throughout Michigan, and in Florida, Washington, Toledo, Chicago and Switzerland.

The Detroit Grooming Co. names their products after places in Michigan.

The company, which at one point did house their production facility in Detroit, named their beard products after places in Detroit and Michigan, and developed scents accordingly. Their Corktown scent, the most popular, carries cedarwood, vanilla and tobacco notes that Haddad said pull from a much older Detroit. The Mackinac scent has peppermint and cedarwood oils meant to mimic the Great Lakes freeze.

Along with the soaps and oils, the men sell straight razors and old-fashioned safety razors — which they’ll soon begin manufacturing in-house — along with combs and other grooming tools.

Buchanan said the company will soon move to a 9,000-square-foot facility down the street from their current warehouse. The company is growing fast, he said. They currently ship around the globe.

They opened their first barbershop in April to capitalize on the growth. The shop in Ferndale at 23236 Woodward has nine chairs, seven downstairs and two more in a suite on the upper level. They charge $25 for a haircut, $30 for a shave or $50 for both. Barbers offer beard trims for $15.

The Corktown shop will have 10 to 12 chairs, Buchanan said.

He said the shop will be approachable with a foot in the neighborhood’s history by using old baseball themes. “There’s nothing stuffy about what we do,” Buchanan said.

Austin Hare, left, cuts the hair of Andrew Mateer, and Kyle Driskell cuts the hair of Lilly Bunker, Sept. 1 at the barbershop in Ferndale.

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Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau