Birds Barbershop cuts into more growth; Founders jump at chance to crack pricey Austin neighborhood

Birds Barbershop is spreading its wings yet again. The company is set to open its ninth Austin-area hair salon Jan. 8 in West Lake Hills.

The latest location is in a former Subway in a retail strip center at 3736 Bee Caves Road, east of Westlake Drive.

The company now has 10 locations in total after opening its first Houston shopin December 2016.

Huge murals are a part of each salon’s motif, and at the West Lake Hills location the 100 feet of wall-to-wall art features a Birds-themed Pac-Man game board. Another throwback part of the decor is the original exterior sign from the barbershop’s first location on South Lamar that has been placed in the waiting area.

The company’s store design is handled in-house. The buildout of the West Lake Hills salon was done by Chioco Development.

“We’ve been wanting to open in that area for nearly a decade, but commercial real estate is tight. When this opportunity came up to open a location on Bee Caves Road, we were all over it,” said Birds Barbershop co-founder Michael Portman.

The new store will is in the 78746 ZIP code, which is Austin’s wealthiest.

Jayson Rapaport, the company’s other co-founder, said in an email to ABJ that the company will follow the region’s population growth and continue to expand in the Austin area. But with only one location in the vast Houston market, he expects more immediate opportunities for growth in that city.

“As for other markets, we love Houston and feel great about the prospect of adding additional shops. They’ve treated us so well and there is obviously a lot of runway for growth,” Rapaport said. “We currently don’t have any leases signed, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another store in Houston in 2018 if we can find the right space in the right neighborhood.”

Rapaport and Portman started Birds with a five-year, $90,000 Small Business Administration loan through Frost Bank. Since then, they have funded all of their growth through sales, without any outside investors. The company reached $8 million in revenue in 2017, Rapaport said. Go here to read an in-depth interview with Rapaport and Portman.

Birds is known for a funky vibe since it was started in 2006. That includes offering beer to customers. In mid-2017, the company switched from Shiner beer to brews from Austin’s Independence Brewing Co.

Birds now has 190 employees and expects to exceed 200 when the West Lake Hills location is fully staffed.

Source: Austin Business Journal
Greg Barr, Managing Editor

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