The master barbers of Luxury Lounge Barbershop will never forget the day their shop opened.
It was March 13, 2020 and Ronnie Collins, Jt Hall, Lazurus White and Terrale "Rex" Holloway were eager to welcome their clients into their vision of what a barbershop could be.
The barbers had spent months renovating the space -- taking great pains to cultivate the brand and atmosphere they wanted.
It was to be space for everyone.
A place where you could come in and leave with, not only the cut you wanted, but with a sense of camaraderie and belonging.
That day was to be an exciting beginning.
Five days later, however, the clippers stopped.
With the smell of fresh paint still in the air and clients in every new, crisp, white barber chairs, the barbers paused as Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced they would have to close their doors at 5 p.m. the next day on the television they installed just weeks earlier.
The coronavirus pandemic was getting worse and mandated shuttering of front-facing businesses was imposed to try and reduce the spread of the virus.
"My mouth dropped," Holloway said when he heard the news.
The shop was not open for an entire week and now the barbers were forced to close the doors again.
"It was hard," Collins said of closing the doors on March 17th. "We had put so much time and money invested into this place, just to turn around and have to close."
Undeterred, the barbers quickly got to work on a new strategy.
If they couldn't cut hair for the time being, they could make sure Richmond knew they were still there when restrictions were lifted.
The barbers hit social media hard, posting dynamic photos and videos of their recent cuts and getting the word out about the new barbershop in Richmond.
Hall said the group began to think of the time-off as an opportunity to reopen better than before.
"It gave us more time to get together, what we didn't get finished. It gave us time to affect social media the way we wanted to," Hall explained.
Meanwhile, barbers went back into the shop and completed more renovations, honing their space for the client's return and familiarizing themselves with the new set of coronavirus restrictions for businesses.
Two months later, Luxury Lounge Barbershop reopened.
Collins said the impromptu hiatus allowed them to build their clientele up.
"We didn't want to stress it. We refocused on building a base of clients, and when we opened back up, we had a lot of people interested in coming in and getting their hair cut for the first time," he said.
They also picked up a new member of the team -- Izzy Torres.
Holloway said he did not fret the shutdown.
"We had just moved our stuff in and then we had to start over. I wasn't worried though, I knew we would be good. We are too good (of barbers) not to be good enough to do it. I knew we would succeed," Holloway said.
It's that same spirit which drove the barbers to enter into the profession and open their own shop in the first place.
While working together at another shop, the barbers started to formulate a plan to open their own business in Richmond.
"We decided we wanted to do our own thing. I'm from Richmond, so I really wanted to have a place here where people could go to get the kind of cuts they normally drove to Lexington to get," Collins explained.
One day, while the group was out in Richmond they noticed a space available on Spanish Grove and decided to go for it.
After months of renovating the space with black paint, a custom ceiling, new chairs, work stations, and bright lighting -- the shop still didn't have a name.
The barbers said they had pitched and dismissed multiple names throughout the renovation.
Holloway said he was pondering the name of the shop one restless night.
"I was like, I got to come up with something," Holloway recalled. "I couldn't sleep. I literally woke up and I got it."
He went to work the next day and shared the name with the others.
"It just clicked," Holloway said.
Thus, Luxury Lounge Barbershop was born.
The barbers at Luxury Lounge said, despite the rough start, they are determined to leave a lasting impression on Richmond.
"It took a toll. It was hard, because we are a new business, but we are so motivated," Collins said of the effects of the pandemic. "Everyday we see new people and as more people get to know us, we hope they feel like it is their barbershop."
The barbers said they consider Luxury Lounge a "hybrid" shop -- a place where everyone can go and get a haircut regardless of the need.
"We can do about everything," Collins explained. "We can do traditional cuts or we can do some of the new stuff you see on YouTube or Instagram."
Hall said the goal is to make sure each client is getting the experience they deserve and the cut they want.
The barbers said they hope to fill a void left for people who are traveling miles away to get a good cut and experience.
White said the barbers have worked hard to be as diverse as possible to suit the needs of every clientele.
"I think we have one of the most diverse shops in Richmond and we see clients from every kind of background out there," White said.
That's one main reason the barbers added Torres to their team.
"He balances us out nicely," Collins said. "Izzy speaks Spanish and we really wanted a place in Richmond where the Hispanic population could be comfortable going."
Hall said specifics about haircuts can be lost in translation and with something as personal as appearance is on the line -- the barbers want to get it right.
"Some are not comfortable with speaking English, with Izzy they can talk freely in their language. It's a bond they get here, where they are getting anywhere else," Hall said.
The barbers know all to well the importance of looking and feeling good and having a place where you can be yourself.
"We just don't work here, we live here and care about our community," Holloway said. "You might not connect anywhere else in life, but we hope you will connect in here. That's what we are trying to provide."
Collins said the shop is already providing a place where people can relax and network with others.
"There has been people that got jobs because the guy next to him was the manager at the business he wanted to work at. It's an amazing thing really," Collins recalled.
Hall said while the group is determined to make a place in Richmond.
"We are in this community and we are motivated," Hall said. "We've had to adapt, yeah. But the profession is always changing. There is always a new cut or style that becomes popular. We are ready to adapt with it. There is always room for improvement and we are willing to put in the work," Hall said.