Disclaimer: This was published in the Manila Times on April 8, 2018
A (hair)cut above the rest
Four friends found the right business venture with this sought after barber shop in Ortigas
It started when four friends wanted to knit the barbershop-coffee shop experience while marrying it with the customer’s desire for a luxurious and value for money experience.
After Choi Kapunan passed the bar in 2016, he also launched his first business ventures that same year. The first was an upscale barber shop called Burnside Barber while the second was a coffee specialty shop called the Common Folk Coffee Bar. Both are located in White Plains, Quezon City.
But before taking a sabbatical in late 2017 to focus on his startup businesses, Choi practiced law in Gorriceta Africa Cauton & Saavedra law firm. “I am a lawyer by profession and an entrepreneur by passion,” he declared.
Because of the success of Burnside Barber in particular, Choi later partnered with high school pals Nico Lumauig, Gil Pe Aguirre, and Kenneth Ong to form 28 Cavalry.
“[During] our initial meeting, we were talking about online groceries, franchising a laundry service or box of rice food cart but we could not decide on a venture. Then I pitched the concept of a high-end barbershop in Quezon City because all the “decent”/high-end shops were in Makati. We wanted to make a statement that ‘We are the North’ and wanted to do something in Quezon City,” Choi recalled.
Launched in December 2017, 28 the UK-inspired Cavalry was a spin-off of Burnside Barber.
“Venturing into the service of grooming rooted from our itch of wanting to elevate a simple routine that most of us underrate,” Choi noted.
“Men usually take an hour every two to three weeks to get a haircut; we wanted to take it up a notch and turn each visit into a full-blown grooming experience.”
As for the use of the word “cavalry,” Nico who handles marketing said it represents both bravery and prestige as protectors of the people. “Through 28 Cavalry, we envisioned to continue this lineage of service, allowing the modern gentleman to de-stress and step back into their comfort zone knowing they are safe and sound.”
Gil who is in charge of human resources and operations said that “what really makes 28 Cavalry unique are the attention to detail.”
“Take our barber chairs (or as we call it, our thrones) for example; you get comfort and convenience without needing to leave your seat. Each throne has its own wash bowl to eliminate the act of standing up and waiting for your turn at the communal sink as well as a dedicated iPad which customers may use freely for work or for leisure. [The place itself doubles] as a coffee shop boasting of a pour-over bar and a coffee take-out window.”
28 Cavalry initially did not take off when it was launched as finance head Kenneth recalls that they were one of the first tenants in the newly revamped wing of Podium.
Four months later, the place is now serving close to 1,000 customers every month. They are also planning to add more barbers to cater to more clients.
Expansion is always being discussed but for now is to fine-tune all aspects of their operations. According to Kapunan, “we’ve been getting a lot of positive reviews and feedback from our customers. We want to fortify what we already do well while peering into more opportunities that our customers are asking for.”
28 Cavalry assures customers that even if clients continue to grow at a much faster pace than they anticipated, they will never compromise the quality of their service. Gil says they wanted to maintain the same level of A1 experience that their customers have been enjoying since day one.
“On a personal level, we think this is what really sets us apart from the rest,” he concluded.