Building community, one cut at a time
Chris Bossio understands the power of a barbershop. All over the world, barbershops not only fuel their local economies, they bring people together in celebration and style. So when his neighborhood fell on hard times, Chris knew just what to do. Two years of barber school later, Chris opened a barbershop called Headlines in Tampa, where people could come together for a trim and some conversation.
At first, business was slow, so Chris used his free time to teach the other barbers in his shop new techniques. Impressed by his down-to-earth, easy-to-understand lessons, his business partners convinced him to upload a tutorial to YouTube to bring attention to the shop.
That’s when things really took off.
The video was a hit, and almost immediately, people started asking for more. So Chris kept creating videos, and before long he saw his subscribers turn into clients. Within a couple of months, Headlines went from five clients a week to 800, many of them mentioning watching Chris’s YouTube videos before coming into the shop.
As his channel grew, his subscribers began to ask him to make his own shaving accessories — a revenue stream Chris hadn’t considered yet. So he immersed himself in YouTube tutorials to learn how to make a shaving gel before launching a line called Tomb45, after the ancient Egyptian barber who was so valued in his community that he was honored with a tomb.
It was another huge hit. With the support of his subscribers, Tomb45 sold over 70% of its inventory the first day. Today, Tomb45 sells 10,000 products a month in 15 countries. Much of their customer base consists of long-term customers who are loyal to the brand because of the relationship they’ve built through Chris’s channel.
YouTube put my vision on the fast track.”
“We feel we have a deeper connection than most companies in our industry because of YouTube,” Chris says.
YouTube is also the main way Chris promotes the line, which creates a constant sales funnel for the company. It’s also been a lifeline during the COVID-19 shutdown, when barbershops were forced to close. Without it, Chris isn’t sure his business could have survived.
Instead, business is booming. When he started Headlines, his goal was to open five barbershops within five years. Instead, he opened seven — not to mention a Tomb45 warehouse and offices in Tampa, plus a YouTube channel with almost half a million subscribers.
“YouTube put my vision on the fast track,” he says. “It’s definitely been the biggest contributor to our growth as a small business — sourcing barbers, attracting help with Tomb45, and so much more.”
Across all of his ventures, Chris estimates he employs around 100 people, including five full-time employees at Tomb45 and around 70 barbers. So far, five barbers who worked for him at Headlines have gone on to open their own barbershops, many of whom now bring in six figures a year, thanks to their visibility on Chris’s channel.
Chris is more than happy to share the spotlight, and focuses most of his time these days on empowering barbers.
"The great thing about barbering is that no matter what your education level is, what your background is like, anyone can be a barber," he says.
These shops serve as places where culture really comes together and comes to life”
He holds an annual workshop where he trains barbers on not only the business of barbering, but also how to leverage YouTube to grow their clientele and establish their brands. Chris’s last workshop attracted over 300 attendees.
Many of his students have gone on to become successful barbers themselves, including about 40 who have opened their own shops in the Tampa area — a dream come true for Chris. The more he travels, the more he says he realizes that barbering is an integral institution in local communities all over the world.
“These shops serve as places where culture really comes together and comes to life,” he says.
To be a part of that success is really special.