Laura Mercedez Sanchez was getting her nails painted at a local salon when a man walked in looking to get a manicure.
“I could tell it was embarrassing for him because the women were laughing and asking him what color he wanted his nails to be,” Sanchez said. “I left thinking about how great it would be to have a place here where men could go and get these kind of services. Manicures and pedicures shouldn’t just be for women.”
Sanchez is now owner of the Gentlemen’s Republic Barbersalon, a local grooming business that caters to men. Located at 1712 N. Mesa St., the Gentlemen’s Republic Barbersalon offers men full service, including haircuts and styling, facials, pedicures, manicures, beard and mustache detailing as well as full-body waxing. The location has now been open for five years.
“Men needed a full-service salon here in El Paso,” Sanchez said. “The idea is basically all about plain, good hygiene. Everybody want’s good hygiene.”
Sanchez first located her business on Montana, but has since moved to it’s current location.
“It was hard at first,” Sanchez said. “It was an innovative concept here in El Paso, so people weren’t entirely sure what we were doing. But now, we serve a very diverse group of men, everything from babies getting their first haircuts, to elderly men. They are the one’s who remember most about barbershops where they could get full services like beard grooming and massages, especially in Ciudad Juárez. That is what I am trying to recreate, the experience from the ‘70s, ‘80s and even early ‘90s. A lot of the men in my family would cross the border to get their haircuts.”
Sanchez said men, much like women, are now more aware and appreciative of their physical appearance. This, she said, has helped her business flourish.
“I recently read an article published in January that said the men’s grooming industry is now a $21 billion industry,” Sanchez said. “I think this is simply because men like to feel comfortable in their own skin as much as women do.”
Sanchez said she credits Gentlemen’s Republic Barbersalon’s location for their success as well.
“The building is gorgeous,” Sanchez said. “When you walk in, you don’t feel like you’re in El Paso. There are even private patios where our customers go to relax.”
Relaxation is one of the reason’s why male customers return, according to Sanchez.
“Grooming is part of a high self-esteem and a high self-esteem is part of your mental health,” Sanchez said. “Confidence is always good for your well-being. Relaxation is a health booster, and that is what we primarily offer here. We’re not just grooming artisans offering a great haircut and services, we’re offering a place where you can come and relax, be pampered, get an exemplary, full-service grooming experience and basically feel like a man.”
Sanchez said many of their customer’s have praised their building, their grooming artisan workers and the chance they have to unwind.
“Our reviews online are great because our customer’s all lived fast-paced lives, we all do, but when they come here, they get to relax and withdraw from the stress of life,” Sanchez said. “They don’t just leave looking great, but they feel great about themselves as well and a lot more relaxed then before. That is definitely beneficial for your health.”
With a valid UTEP ID students can receive a discounted $20 haircut. The business also offers a complimentary adult beverage including beer or whiskey for customers 21 and over to further help you relax.
“Life is so crazy,” Sanchez said. “If you don’t take the time off for yourself, who’s going to do it for you?”
For full services and prices, visit grbarbersalon.com.
Jose Soto may be reached at [email protected]