Upscale barbershop grooms not just hair, but a social mission

Jonathan Jacobs, founder of ETHOS GSFM, used his background in architecture to design his new 1,500-squre-foot flagship location at 339 N. Broad Street (Abdul Sulayman/The Philadelphia Tribune)

Jonathan Jacobs, founder of ETHOS GSFM, used his background in architecture to design his new 1,500-squre-foot flagship location at 339 N. Broad Street (Abdul Sulayman/The Philadelphia Tribune)

This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.

Jonathan Jacobs is on a mission to improve and elevate the barbering industry.

After he waited two hours to receive a haircut during a barbershop appointment, he realized that there was an issue with professionalism in the industry.

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“The music was too loud. The conversation wasn’t conducive to the kind of guy that I was trying to be,” recalled Jacobs, who has a background as an architectural designer.

“I remember getting up and walking out. It was at that point that the fire was lit to try to figure out how the solve the problem.”

He went on to develop a business plan to launch an upscale barbershop, but his initial dream was derailed by the 2009 recession.

Year later, Jacobs transformed a steamer trunk into a mobile barbering station and started doing events with companies like Banana Republic, Goorin Bros. Hat Shop and the Four Seasons Hotel.

“Essentially that’s what put me on the map,” he said.

His idea took off and in 2017 he launched ETHOS GSFM‘s (Grooming Station for Men) first brick and mortar location in Center City. The lifestyle brand is committed to providing a “distinguished grooming experience” for men looking for a lifestyle upgrade, beyond the traditional barber shop. That experience includes facials and a social platform for workshops and networking.

ETHOS GSFM’s second location at 339 N. Broad Street offers an upscale grooming experience (Abdul Sulayman/The Philadelphia Tribune)

ETHOS GSFM also gives back by working to help formerly incarcerated men who are re-entering the workforce through a partnership with local educational nonprofit MenzFit.

“We cater to gentlemen,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs and his business partner Anton Brovchenko recently opened a new flagship site in the new Hanover building at 339 N. Broad St. Jacobs used his architectural background to design the new stylish 1,500-square-foot location that offers men an upscale environment for grooming.

“What makes us different is how we go about the process,” Jacobs said. “We value our clients’ time. So instead of being a combination of walk-ins and appointments, we are just by appointment.”

The ETHOS GSFM experience begins with a consultation with one of the company’s grooming consultants regarding style, frequency of grooming and skin type. The 60-minute grooming experience includes either a haircut, straight razor shave or beard maintenance, followed by a facial.

“The personal services industry is a really good one to get involved in, but I think that the problem on the barber side of that has been the professionalism, so that is where we come in,” said Jacobs, a 43-year-old native of Oklahoma.

The company has designed a social platform titled SEEG (Social Exchange for Extraordinary Gentlemen) that will be used to promote workshops, networking opportunities and product reviews. The platform will feature a series of interviews with athletics, doctors and professionals who are doing extraordinary things in Philadelphia. Jacobs hopes to roll out the videos series in September with an interview of Dr. Rajan Singla, an oncologist at Jefferson.

“Our business really isn’t about just the grooming of the external, it’s also about the grooming of the internal,” Jacobs said.

Jonathan Jacobs, founder of ETHOS GSFM, holds a discussion with grooming consultant Tola Thatch (Abdul Sulayman/The Philadelphia Tribune)

ETHOS GSFM offers a membership program where clients choose prepaid subscription options depending on their preferred frequency of services.

“We try to make it simple for guys — that way they don’t have to think about it,” Jacobs said.

“We just deliver on the value that we promise.”

ETHOS GSFM donates all unused subscription services to MenzFit.

“When you look good, you feel good about yourself and for many of our clients, especially the clients that are returning home, for them it’s a hand up,” said Rhonda Willingham, president and founder of MenzFit.

“It offers them hope. It’s a nice addition to what MenzFit already provides in terms of the professional clothing and career development workshop series.”

Jacobs takes pride in helping these men look their best.

“They feel like they are ready to go out there and conquer the world,” he said.

“I think that’s the most exciting part — that we’re giving them the competitive edge. Putting on a suit makes (them) feel powerful and accomplished, but now adding to that they are getting a fresh face and a fresh haircut. It’s good all the way around.” (215) 893-5747

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