Updated: May 3
Text & images by Anton Miguel D. De Vera
Gentlemen’s Grooming is a newly opened barbershop located in the 19th district of Vienna. It offers a combination of traditional, artistic, and new school haircuts for customers of different ages. The services include haircuts, beard trim/shaving, a combo of haircut and beard trim, and haircuts for ‘Little Gentlemen’ (haircut for children). Co-owners Bryan Andrew Fallar, Paul Bryan Fernandez, Lukas Akdil, and the main barber Markus Lucaciu, together set a standard of providing barber services with a professional touch and offering a venue for friends and family to meet.
I had the pleasure to chat with Bryan Andrew Fallar, otherwise known as Zayn Valerian, co-owner of Gentlemen’s Grooming and a Filipino-Austrian entrepreneur from Vienna, Austria. Bryan talked and shared about his life in Vienna, how he came upon the idea of owning a barbershop, and his expectations on what he hopes Gentlemen’s Grooming can achieve in future.
At a young age, Zayn always dreamt of becoming a business entrepreneur in Vienna. However, he never really thought of having to manage a barbershop. His passion is on sports, specifically gym fitness and martial arts. He dreamt of starting a fitness app on smart phones which would offer tutorials on fitness exercises like clean push-ups and so on. Another one of his dreams is to open a traditional Filipino restaurant in Vienna. In the future, he hopes to make these dreams come true.
For many people, becoming a start-up entrepreneur is already difficult in itself. Zayn's path to entrepreneurship began when he first left school early. He thought at the time that what he learned in school didn't provide the knowledge he needed to fulfil his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur and a fully functioning businessman. He believed in the importance of improving one’s communication skills, networking, and taking measurable risks. When asked about how his family felt over his decision of leaving school in order to pursue a business career, he said that they were worried of course, as expected in a Filipino household, but he told them to not worry too much and to believe that he can achieve his dreams. After leaving school, Zayn worked as a salesman and store manager at different retail stores such G-Star, Snipes, and Jack & Jones in many hourly shifts to save up some capital. He also invested in cryptocurrency on the side which helped him boost his capital and eventually attracted opportunities for starting his own barbershop.
The idea began with a phone call from a friend who brought up the idea to open a barbershop. At first, he was sceptical mainly because he had no clue how to open and manage one, not to mention how to cut hair. Regardless, he took time to put together a business plan and researched the costs involved such as rent of venue, fixed costs of utilities, equipment, insurance, etc. Together with his business partners and investment return from cryptocurrency, the business seemed feasible.
Problems soon arrived in April 2021 when one of his business partners dropped out. Insufficient financing stalled the renovations and furnishings were incomplete. Adding to the challenge, they had to pay monthly rent and insurance despite the opening delays. The COVID-19 pandemic posed more serious problems. It was at this point when the situation took a heavy toll on Zayn and he felt like giving up. With the fear of losing the shop venue, the lack of barbers and capital, it seemed impossible to open the shop. It caused depression and he genuinely thought that he was at risk of losing all the initial work done.
It wasn’t until Zayn and Paul, two of the three business partners, found a new investor. With the help of networking, Zayn connected with a good friend Lukas Akdil who decided to join and invest in the business. They were able to gradually build on the progress already made and eventually opened to the public in April 2022.
Bryan believes that young Filipinos can create a movement in Austria. Compared to how life can be in the Philippines, Filipino-Austrians have so much more accessibility and opportunities here in Vienna in terms of refining and developing their multitudes of talent that should be showcased in a public platform. The key to success for Zayn is “to learn to work for yourself, and not for someone else and to do this for your whole life, you work for your dreams.” Separating himself from his work as a salesman in the beginning, he also worked on his talents and skills to pursue his dreams. He believes that young Filipinos in Austria should do the same in which life is not just all work, but also life is in their passion.
Today, Gentlemen’s Grooming Barbershop has gathered the attention of many customers as they are fully booked almost every week. Luckily, I was able to book an appointment for myself. Overall, the services provided are refreshing and comforting to have a haircut where one can engage in conversation with his barber. This is the standard of service Bryan and Gentlemen’s Grooming hope to set, where visiting your barber is supposed to be “magical and conversational, and a place offering quality over quantity.”
In my experience, the barbershop gives off a fresh and millennial vibe and sets an ambiance almost similar to a classy bar where they not only offer you a stylish haircut but also some refreshments to keep you comfortable and relaxed. I was able to have a conversation with one of their barbers who is used to cutting Asian hair, Daniel, and we were able to talk about experiences in cutting Filipino-Asian hair which was great to finally relate with a professional barber in Vienna. Hanging on the walls, you can find different assortments for cutting hair and an art gallery in collaboration with Filipino-Austrian tattoo artist Richelle Cabunia of @richelle.ink on Instagram.
Book your appointment at Gentlemen’s Grooming at: www.gentlemens-grooming.com Follow Gentlemen’s Grooming Instagram Page: @gentlemens.grooming.vienna