Cool cuts

I never knew there was a cool place to get your hair cut in town, but apparently Rudy’s Barbershop is the place. Metropolis Magazine has an interesting article about the entrepreneurs who started the chain.

…I meet two of the company’s three founders, Alex Calderwood and Wade Weigel, at the Rudy’s headquarters in Seattle, a buzzing second-story suite right around the corner from their first barbershop, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, once the heart of the city’s grunge-music scene. When I tell them it’s the handiwork of a Rudy’s stylist, neither one asks if I like the cut. Instead, they want to know if I enjoyed the experience, if I talked to other customers, if the vibe was good.

It’s obvious that what led Calderwood and Weigel into the business wasn’t an interest in hair. Rather, it was the idea of injecting new life into ritualized social interactions that intrigued them.

Many of the signature Rudy’s elements also stem from the urge to personalize that has driven the success of social-networking sites like MySpace that allow its users to create their own page layouts. A peek at the original Capitol Hill shop makes it clear that their aesthetic was driven by that ethos

They also created the Ace Hotel concept of affordable but hip hotels in Seattle and Portland.

The third venture (but likely not their last) is Ace Atelier, a hotel-development project that started with the eight-year-old Ace Seattle and recently opened the Ace Portland, whose inviting lobby, communal bathrooms, and displays of local art made a splash in the hospitality industry.

The first Ace Hotel, in Seattle, had a previous life as a flophouse in the Belltown neighborhood. “We tried to work with the bones of the building as much as possible, including the shared bathrooms,” Calderwood says. “People weren’t really doing that with confidence, in a kind of clean, fresh way. Hotel-industry people tell us that was one of the things that really put us on the map.

I love hearing stories when entrepreneurs take well established concepts and reinvent them. It’s an interesting article.

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