Reinventing the Barber Shop 3

Jeff Eggert was ready for a change. “Ask anybody who’s spent decades in the corporate world and they’re likely to know exactly what I mean,” says Jeff while relaxing with a cup of coffee a few steps from his newest venture, 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon in downtown Barrington.

After 29 years in corporate finance for two highly successful Fortune 500 companies, in 2014 Jeff faced a big decision: Either continue on the same corporate path — long days, quarter-by-quarter sprints to earning reports and cost cutting to meet earnings targets — or try something new that’s more challenging and ultimately, more satisfying.

18|8 is both an old and new approach to men’s grooming. It’s old school by being a guy’s hangout with professional stylists and barbers giving great haircuts. What makes this concept new is 18|8 is more than just a barber shop. Jeff’s team is trained to offer all those services that men can otherwise only get at a women’s salon.  They share with the clientele great advice on style, trends and grooming for today’s man.

A clubby feel welcomes every guy walking in the door. In many cases, clients make appointments online. (Name another barber shop in the area that does that.) “For anybody who wants to indulge, we’ll serve a great premium beer to help our customer’s enjoy their experience,” Jeff says. “Imagine you’ve just got off the train or had a rough commute at the end of a long day. This is a great place to unwind.”

It took Jeff a solid year of working with a consultant before he settled on opening what he hopes will be a series of 18|8 salons in the suburbs. His territory, granted by the California-based parent company of 18|8, extends from Barrington east to Interstate 94, and north to the Illinois-Wisconsin state line.

Launching his first salon in the Barrington Village Center was a no brainer. After scouting many potential locations in the northwest suburbs, Jeff says: “We’ve loved working in the village from Day One. This is a great community, the downtown is definitely on the move and everybody I’ve worked with to get this up-and-running has been very helpful.”

Joining Jeff in this new career is his wife, Cathy, who agrees that the concept is perfect for a place like Barrington. Their prior experience working with world-class brands provided them with the experience and insight to know that the vision of 18|8’s founders was an excellent fit for them. “This is fundamentally a great place and a great way for a man to receive grooming services,” Jeff says.

After a meeting with the company founders, Jeff and Cathy knew this is what they wanted to do for the next phase in their careers. 18|8’s two founders – a serial entrepreneur and an English barber with 40 years of experience – launched the first salon over ten years ago, and slowly but surely the company has spread across the country. The Barrington 18|8, opened in mid-2015, was one of the first salons in Illinois. Other locations include Northbrook, Naperville and most recently, Lombard.

So, what about the name of the place? “18|8 is the formula for stainless steel,” Jeff says. Take high grade steel, add 18% chromium and 8% nickel and the result is a strong, beautiful and high-performance stainless steel. Since 18|8 also provides a customer a clean shave, stainless steel is precisely what the discerning, well-groomed man wants.

“18|8 helps a guy get rid of a rusty exterior,” Jeff adds laughing.

18|8 Fine Men’s Salon is at 120 S. Hough St. in Barrington. Learn more at EighteenEight.com.