Walk through the doors of V’s Barbershop Orlando in Windermere, Florida and you’ll notice the shoe-shining station to your left, antique barber chairs straight ahead and the handsome smell of a classic barbershop tonic in the air. Televisions are turned to ESPN, and the classic barber pole is on display both outside the shop and inside, against the back wall.
It’s all part of the authentic, old-school barbershop experience the V’s Barbershop aims to bring back to today’s barber shops.
Lawrence Johnson, franchise owner of the V’s Barbershop Orlando location, was a customer of V’s back in 2008 when he lived in Phoenix. Lawrence wanted to find an authentic barbershop, much like the one he and his dad went to when he was a kid, and found it at V’s.
“V’s reminded me of some of the memories and experiences I had with my parents when they would take me to the barbershop,” he said. “I recalled all those memories and I think back to the communities we’ve lived in, knowing I’ve had a different barbershop experience in each one. I wanted to bring something like this — wholesome, family-friendly, clean and professional — to the area.”
Lawrence Johnson and his wife, Lauris, moved to the Windermere, Florida area four years ago. From the summer of 2014 to April 2016, Lawrence Johnson discussed the possibility of buying into the V’s brand with V’s founder, Jim Valenzuela.
The buildout process for Lawrence Johnson’s own V’s Barbershop location finally began in August 2016.
“We initially moved to the opposite side of town and were looking for a spot we could settle and buy a home,” Lauris Johnson said. “We found this location on the way to Disney and looked over like, ‘Wow, this is a nice little spot with a lot of nice homes. This could be a good spot for the barbershop,’ because we noticed there wasn’t one anywhere around.”
The soft opening was held on December 22nd, but the Johnson’s hosted a grand-opening celebration February 11th. Because the family feels it is important to give back to the community, they donated half the proceeds to Winter Garden-based organization The Gift of Swimming, which teaches young children to swim. It’s where their own daughter learned to swim.
“Doing things like that — getting tied in with little leagues and other nonprofits in the area — that’s big for us,” he said. “We really believe in it. This is more about cutting hair — this is about being part of the community and tying into the community.”
Which ties in perfectly with the key to the V’s brand vision that a customer should receive more than a haircut. They also should enjoy a unique experience. V’s is all about having the old-school barbershop experience and interaction – from the antique chairs to the shoe-shining stand and barbers in black uniforms.
And although barbershops cater to men and boys, the Johnson’s want everyone who walks through the door to feel welcome and comfortable.
“As a woman, I like the fact that it’s a comfortable environment I can go to,” Lauris Johnson said. “I have a younger brother, and sometimes, my mom and I would take him to the barbershop, and I hated it because the guys were just talking badly. I can sympathize with the mothers and daughters having to be exposed to that environment, (but they can) come here and feel comfortable watching their brother or son get their hair cut.”