story published by the Santa Barbara News-Press on 1/22/18
When the mud that devoured Montecito oozed onto Coast Village Road, business at Richie the Barber, like at dozens of its neighbors, vanished.
|Jamie Slone and Richie the Barber|
Meantime, up the road in Santa Barbara, Jamie Slone’s business was hurting badly, too, and for a while. “During the fires, smoke suffocated the local area, nobody wanted to go out, nobody wanted to come up [from L.A.],” says Mr. Slone, who launched Jamie Slone Wines in 2014 and who runs one of the handful of upscale tasting rooms in the El Presidio neighborhood.
“We got a little breather over New Year’s, a teaser,” he continues. “But then this awful mudslide disaster hit, and it’s been ‘game over’ ever since.”
There’s little that connected these local businesses just a few weeks ago. Richie the Barber and Jamie, the vintner, didn’t know each other. But then natural disaster struck them both. And it would take the ingenious inkling of a mutual friend – “Brandon Arlington from CDB Group – love him!” says Mr. Slone – to bring them together and create opportunity for both.
For the past week, Richie’s has been running a pop-up barber shop inside Mr. Slone’s tasting room. With chairs borrowed from a nearby business, the six barbers who work regularly at Richie’s have been back at work, welcoming clients and trimming hair. “Many of our regulars are displaced, and a lot of people aren’t aware yet that we’re here,” says Richie the Barber, so business is not what it used to be. The team – Richie, Alexis, Erin, Stephanie, Jessica and Martine, all Santa Barbara residents – have been doing about 25 to 30 haircuts a day, almost half the 45 to 50 they usually do. Under the circumstances, though, it’s a boon nonetheless.
“The way everything’s worked out, it’s perfect,” says the barber.
Mr. Slone calls it a simple case of “people helping people,” something that seems extra special in Santa Barbara, “where the degrees of separation between people are so small,” he says.
Jamie Slone Wines has given up its Private Reserve Room for the Richie’s team -- an elegant, glass-enclosed space behind the bar where Mr. Slone offers by-appointment tastings and a variety of wine education classes and experiences. But the temporary barber shop has generated unexpected benefits for the winery, too, as many who’ve come in for a trim stick around for a sip.
“People have been very gracious,” says Mr. Slone. “They come early and taste, or they’ll buy wines to take home. They discover what we do!” Jamie Slone Wines produces about 1000 cases of locally sourced wines like sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, as well as several blends; they’re made by celebrated winemaker, Steve Clifton.
“Overall, though, this is about doing something that feels good for our community,” says Mr. Slone, who’s had other Montecito businesses approach him about creating similar opportunities. “There’s a need for more of this kind of thing right now.”
And on a personal level, Mr. Slone’s found someone new to do his hair. “Turns out, I’ve been missing out on the Richie’s experience!” he says, with a laugh. “I’m definitely a fan moving forward.”
Richie’s Barber Shop inside Jamie Slone Wines is currently open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm.
Richie’s Barber Shop at Jamie Slone Wines, 23 De La Guerra Street, Santa Barbara. For haircut appointments: 805-845-9701 or 805-304-6697. For the tasting room: 805-560-6555.