We had the good fortune of connecting with Vinny De Leon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vinny, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My first initial thought to start my business was to give myself longevity in a career that will also be beneficial to the community. After becoming homeless in 2010 due to the recession I never wanted to be at the mercy of a company and experience hardships/ circumstances that was totally out of my control. That idea drove me to what we are today.
What should our readers know about your business?
At Vinny’s Barbershop we are dedicated to community and pride ourselves in being a true Gentleman’s barbershop. We do not know color, race, or age, we only know service, hair and community. I have been cutting hair for 18yrs and have not stopped. While working in construction I would cut hair in warehouses, homes, kitchens, backyards, anywhere I could plug in clippers I would service anyone who would allow me. My love for hair was the only thing that made me feel at peace and made me feel good that I could help others.
I opened Vinny’s Barbershop in 2017 while being negative in my personal bank account. I had no savings, no retirement, no business plan, no credit, just a vision. My wife and I moved out of our home that I was leasing and joined a program to help a apartment community and host events that would help bring the community together along with a discount on our rent so we can afford housing and try to get the barbershop started. I was determined to do whatever I needed to secure stability to my family. In may 2017 we opened for business and shortly after we were faced with the challenge of the historic hurricane/ flood HARVEY. I honestly had no idea what we were going to do with that situation.
With God’s grace not one thing happened to our business or our apartment. After Harvey I was faced with the challenge of rebuilding what little we had established in the business. We hit the ground running and helped our community and gave money, volunteered time, gave food, discounted haircuts to first responders, free kids cuts, gave away clothes, etc… I am a firm believer in giving back to those who choose to help and give to us. Needless to say business took off and 2 years later we were able to open another location.
In November 2019 we opened Vinny’s Barbershop #2 and created some solid momentum. We were excited to see all the growth and finally live out the dream of seeing our business become successful along with employing 14 barbers at that time and helping the barbers/ families. We were so busy in March 2020 for spring break that both our locations were so booked out we could not take any more walk ins / appointments. We were so excited to see this unfold only to soon be shut down with another obstacle that was definitely a humbling moment. Covid-19 forced the doors to close on both locations for 2.5 months. All I could do is sit back in disbelief and think to myself what do I do now?. Like 2010 when I was homeless, like 2017 when Harvey hit, I said I have to do what I know to do and that’s fight for what I have and restructure / strategize. I locked myself in my room and prayed and I said failure is not an option for me and my team.
I rebranded the business and started adding more stations to my 2nd location. I repainted location #1, bought new chairs, mats, bought new capes, hats, shirts, etc… I knew that this could be the last attempt to save the business or I could capitalize on the opportunity and come back even stronger. I was determined that when we went back to work our clients would walk in and see that their money they choose to give to Vinny’s Barbershop was not in vein. Bloomberg contacted me and interviewed me and was curious how we were dealing with this pandemic, other owners were calling me, barbers were calling me, we were all leaning on each other for help but some how we finally came back to work and well we did just that we worked hard and all the clients noticed our efforts and we made over $1.000.000 in sales in 2020 even being out for 2.5 months.
Here we are now in May (this year) will be 4yrs that we have been in business. We continue to work hard and continue to work with our community and build lasting relationships. We are here and do not plan on leaving anytime soon.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
To start I would definitely take them to eat at our favorite local Mexican restaurant ( La Hacienda) and talk and have a great time catching up. I would then host them at my home and cook for them and make them feel comfortable. Growing up on the water in Freeport T.X I love to fish and just relax so I would make time for a fishing trip and then have a cook out and cook all the fish, lol! I cannot expect my guests to leave empty handed so I would make time for a great shopping trip at the mall / galleria. With hopes there will be a great game/ concert we can catch and enjoy some patio time.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
All credit and glory belongs to God. Along with my wife Sara De Leon I have 4 beautiful children and a huge support system with my family and church family. My pastor Juan Martinez along with Popular Nobody (John Mosley) and his wife Jessica Mosley have dedicated a lot of time and efforts to help Vinny’s Barbershop become what it is today. I cannot go without mentioning some of the best barbers in the industry that decided to work with me and choose to support the vision.
Instagram: @vinnydeleon3 / @vinny_barbershop
Facebook: Vinny De Leon / Vinnys Barbershop
Yelp: Vinny’s Barbershop
Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.