Tucked away in a second-floor studio of a building on River Road in Edgewater, The Pewter Club Barber Spa goes beyond the business of haircuts.
Owner and sole barber Walter Iniguez has fashioned the shop into a one-stop men’s style consultancy. It offers high-end suits, handcrafted shoes and rare leather bags, along with hair and skincare products formulated by Iniguez himself.
“It’s not your typical barber shop,” Iniguez explained, a bit unnecessarily. “It’s a little more exclusive.”
Iniguez and a partner launched the business in 2012 with a singular focus on cutting hair. At the time a full-time financial analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Iniguez began taking on customers himself only after the stylists he had hired failed to please.
By 2015, Iniguez parted ways with his partner as well, and since then has introduced apparel and leather good sales. He shares his intimate knowledge of patterns, fabrics, stitches and materials with customers and carries only luxury brands such as Carmina and Santoni.
“You always learn something when you come and get a cut from Walter,” customer Matt Barile enthused.
The merchandise carries high-end price tags, with shoes selling for $700 to $1,800. Iniguez has been schooled in his product lines.
“Through the training, you’re basically learning different qualities of leathers – why one shoe is as much as it is despite having the same construction as another [and how] different locations play a role as far as cost of labor,” he said. “You have to understand all that, and that translates to me explaining it to my client. You don’t get that from Men’s Wearhouse.”
Iniguez’s approach to hair care is equally attentive.
“I came here because I had my hair completely ruined by someone who was distracted, always on the phone and the computer,” said Bachir Georges, a client for the past three years. “I came to Walter, and he was like, ‘We’ll fix this, don’t worry,’ and I’ve been coming to him ever since. With Walter, it’s more personal.”
Iniguez takes clients by appointment only and allows sufficient time for each to ensure appointments never overlap. His days at PwC have come to an end – a move he projects should more than double his current annual revenue of $50,000.
Iniguez said he retains 95 percent of his clients, including his first-ever, whose inaugural haircut was on the house because The Pewter Club spent its first month offering free services to victims of Superstorm Sandy, many of whom were without power.
Word of mouth is the business’ only mode of advertising.
“When we opened, one of the Yelp leads was very pushy to get me to advertise; I already had some good reviews, but when they saw I wasn’t going to buy they immediately suppressed my good reviews [and] that left a poor taste in my mouth,” recalled Iniguez, who is intent on keeping things simple.
“I’m still growing [and] still not doing unnecessary marketing,” he said. “Don’t invest in something more if it’s unnecessary. Cut out the nonsense.”