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Original Grooming Experts

Posted by Staff / Posted on October 10, 2013

Original Grooming ExpertsOriginal Grooming Experts walks a fine line. The biggest problem facing high end barbershops is convincing potential clientele that the experience won't be too uncomfortably spa-like for men used to the brusque, generally spartan experience of a shave and a haircut. Jason Culala is looking to find the perfect middle ground with his new shop on Richmond just off Queen West.

It's a big space, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls on two sides and ten chairs for when things get busy, and in anticipation of that loyal customer base that keeps barbershops in business for years. Starting a new shop is risky - especially one just a few doors down from another men's salon and down the block from a local barbershop staple - but Culala says he isn't interested in trying to poach from other barbers.

Original Grooming Experts"We're not trying to sell anybody," he tells me, insisting that he's happy to build his shop's reputation by word of mouth, and one cut at a time. He thinks he's in a perfect spot, at the junction of the banking, fashion, art and real estate worlds, on the edge of a downtown full of working guys, either in suits or in hard hats.

For Culala, his new shop is about training and education, for both his customers and staff. For a guy looking for a cut, there might be a bit of room to learn how to take care of himself, and for his staff, there are requirements like doing straight razor shaves, which Culala considers the bedrock of the business.

Original Grooming Experts"It's really about the culture and lifestyle," he tells me. A guy presenting himself at a new barber shop is going through a ritual, and the barber's part in this is sizing him up, and trying to anticipate what he needs. "Our job description is kind of like being a psychiatrist."

At Original Grooming, everything begins with a hot towel, which is part of Jason's desire that the shop sit somewhere between a barber shop and a salon. It also starts with a manicure staple - dipping your hands in warm paraffin wax. Culala doesn't advertise the hot wax treatment, but prefers to feature it as a bit of a surprise, part of the ritual that puts you in the mood for a cut or a shave.

It is, frankly, a bit odd if you're not used to it, but lying back with a hot towel on your face and a rubbery glove of wax hardening on your hands does encourage you to think about yourself a bit more than you might normally; it's a kind of half-step toward meditation, and probably as much of a step in that direction as many of us are willing to take.

Original Grooming ExpertsI don't need a haircut, but it's been a week since my last shave and after a summer cultivating a pair of muttonchops, I give Jason the job of cleaning up the sideburns and goatee. He goes to work with a startling array of equipment - blades and clippers and electric razors, finely trimming and sculpting; if you've put a lot of care into your facial hair, OGX is probably the place you need to go. I can only imagine the work they put into a fade.

The prices at OGX aren't cheap. A cut is $45 and a shave is $55, but the facial grooming - tidying up beards and moustaches - is just $10. They also offer a "Hangover Treatment" - nineteen bucks for the paraffin hand wax, hot towel, a shampoo and conditioning, which is probably worth every penny, as you might come out the other end feeling halfway towards a new body.

Original Grooming ExpertsWith Movember coming up, Jason tells me that OGX have gotten themselves appointed official barbers for the charity - the go-to spot for guys who work and live downtown who need maintenance of their lip ornaments. It's a great way for a new barber to pull in new clients, and for customers to introduce themselves to a potential new cutting shop.

Writing and photos by Rick McGinnis

Discussion

35 Comments

Thanks, but no. / October 10, 2013 at 09:23 am
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Surely they must realize that pretty much every other Barbershop in the city that is worth going to charges around $25 for a cut, right?
NPR / October 10, 2013 at 09:43 am
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I live upstairs and walked in to make an appointment (&also wanted to welcome them to the 'hood) for my husband (their online booking system gave me an error message) and was ignored. So I walked out.

That's my only and last impression.
suckmesideways / October 10, 2013 at 09:58 am
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The fuk?

$45 for what takes literally 6 minutes to do.

Enjoy failure, pal.
Miguel / October 10, 2013 at 11:13 am
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It's ironic that they call themselves original when Mankind has the exact same offering, and came out with it first.
gonzo replying to a comment from Miguel / October 10, 2013 at 11:31 am
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He's the dude that started Mankind dude.
D / October 10, 2013 at 11:37 am
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For that price I would hope that clippers are not used on my hair. Clippers do not cut hair the same way scissors and straight edges do, no matter who is doing it.
TOguy / October 10, 2013 at 01:08 pm
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I was really really interested until I saw $45 and $55. It's not that I am cheap or don't have the money. It's just that that pricing is foolish. Good luck getting even one 'hardhat guy' in there. Lol
Jon S / October 10, 2013 at 01:39 pm
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Skeptical at first, but when I came in the atmosphere was better than anticipated. I got my haircut from Brian and he is truly a master of his craft. You will be seeing me again in a month :)
Paul / October 10, 2013 at 01:59 pm
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Hair cut monthly? At that price?

If this guy is the founder of mankind (literally 2 units down), why did he start this place?
Very curious.
Nick / October 10, 2013 at 02:07 pm
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There is a large group of males out there with money or just getting by (who wear hard hats or not) that enjoy a proper cut/shave . Just because you don't, doesn't give you the right to be a keyboard warrior. If you compare the companies miguel you'll find the owner of one actually knows how to cut/shave and that would be OGX. But you wouldn't know that as you chirp behind a computer. I'll keep getting my cuts at OGX, all the haters enjoy Supercuts.
Carlo / October 10, 2013 at 02:33 pm
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Since people seem to have a lot of time on their hands to make unsubstantiated reviews, I thought I'd take a
couple minutes and set the record straight. I've been getting my hair cut by Jason since he first started in the business (10 years or so) and I can say that he is a true professional who loves and understands his craft more than most. Prices may seem steep, but this is a high end barbershop and you get what you pay for. Comparing the service you'd get at a traditional barbershop with what OGX offers doesn't really make any sense. Know that going in and you won't be disappointed.
Thanks, but no. replying to a comment from Nick / October 10, 2013 at 02:45 pm
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Hey Nick, you keep overpaying for a cut and shave, and the rest of us will go get the same thing for significantly less at arguably better spots. Enjoy.
John Smith replying to a comment from Thanks, but no. / October 10, 2013 at 03:01 pm
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Sorry but $25 doesn't always guarantee a good haircut it guarantees a quick one. To each their own.
John Smith / October 10, 2013 at 03:12 pm
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On another note i've been and its a great atmosphere, nice open concept. Everyone that works there is super friendly. Ive had my haircut with both Mikka and Ashley, and no complaints yet.

Sparks replying to a comment from Carlo / October 10, 2013 at 03:24 pm
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+1 to Carlo.

As an entrepreneur myself, I will charge a higher price point because I believe I offer a better product/service than my competition. I think this is what Original Grooming Experts are doing; they believe in their product and have priced it accordingly.

Furthermore, it is apparent that their clientele also believe in Original Grooming Experts' product. People who don't believe a haircut is worth $45 shop elsewhere (and at worst, come on BlogTO to rant about how much of a "real man" they are).

If you are curious about what a $45 dollar haircut is like, give Original Grooming Experts a shot. I, too, was skeptical at first - especially after years of paying $10 at small dingy shops scattered throughout Toronto. The value is immediately apparent once your appointment begins. Yes, it's a bit of a luxury, but I can confidently say that it is worth it (my opinion, obviously). If you still think you didn't get your money's worth, then don't go back (or even better, talk to the staff about why your experience wasn't that great).

Also, if you come in within 2 weeks of your haircut, you get a FREE touch up :)
Ric / October 10, 2013 at 03:32 pm
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"Thanks, but no." - how do you quantify overpaying when comparing different places with all different experiences. Your opinion should be based on experiencing all of your so called "arguably better spots". So until you have, and you can appreciate a true professional with credentials in the industry your comments stand no ground.

I, much like Carlo have been getting my hair cut by Jason since he began to persue his passion for cutting hair and customer service. His standout ability is stand alone in the industry and he remains a true professional to this day. I have comfort in knowing that his staff are all trained in every aspect of the business. All I know, is that if im at an upper class barber shop I would want the comfort in knowing that the owner actually knows how to cut hair and is the best at it! Thats what I pay for! See you next week Jason!
hairysituation / October 10, 2013 at 04:04 pm
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What exactly is $45 getting me?

There are only 4 types of mens hair styles:

1) hipster side shave and flock of seagulls typed swoop cut.
2) shorter, cleaner cut.
3) long, greasy and scraggly.
4) you're BALD.

Whats the basis for paying someone $45+ tip to only do # 1 and 2)?
PD / October 10, 2013 at 04:14 pm
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I'm not a big fan of Mankind anymore. While you may feel high and mighty paying too much for a haircut and a parafin wax hand treatment, you could go to hollow ground or crows nest and get a much better haircut for far less.

I went to Mankind for about a year before mankind gave me a few bad haircuts. I fear OBX will be the same.
AV / October 10, 2013 at 04:22 pm
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For that price point. My haircut better have a gravitational pull to all of the women in Toronto. I'm getting quite tired of these pretentious businesses within Toronto which don't exceed anywhere else in service. To each their own, but I would do yourself a favour and spend that extra 20$ on a nice bite to eat.
Thanks, but no. replying to a comment from Ric / October 10, 2013 at 04:34 pm
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Not sure exactly what you're getting at here? Is your comment predicated on the assumption that I visit Supercuts once a month for a $14 cut? Not quite.

I've visited at least 7 of the shops listed on BlogTO's best barber shops in Toronto over the years, as well as Mankind and I've come to two conclusions, 1. There are a ton of great barbershops in this city and we are lucky to have so many and 2. There will always be people that think that just because something costs more, it's better.

If you like OGX, good for you, keep going.

koolAid / October 10, 2013 at 05:33 pm
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This guy cuts hair. Thats it.

Dont try and act as if there is some artistic genius behind what is going on.
Its scissors or a razor.

How does that equate to $45 ?
CJ / October 10, 2013 at 05:53 pm
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I've gotten my hair cut at Mankind and never wanted to go back. Don't think I'll try this place either if it's the same owners. Why would you open a barbershop that offers almost the same services and environment literally 2 units down from another barber shop? That seems like an unintelligent business plan.
Jax / October 10, 2013 at 06:10 pm
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People that believe a 25 dollars hair cut is the same as a high end cut are the same people who believe Fluance speakers are the same quality as Bose or that your Toyota is as good as a Lexus. Sure it seems the same but its not the quality is not. Sure you don't need the finer things in life but you don't have insult people that do. OGX has experienced stylists that are the best at there job. I've been places all over the TDot including the places mentioned on this comment board and the best overall spot is OGX.
Kris / October 10, 2013 at 07:12 pm
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This is what makes our city great! You have the luxury of choosing between a $25 basic cut or pampering yourself for just a bit more. Similarly, you can eat take-out for $10 or treat yourself to a $60 plate. I’ve been to OGX twice and understand/appreciate what they’re doing. If you haven’t been I suggest you try it out - won’t be disappointed. Besides I’m sure your girlfriend/wife is spending triple that on her hair anyway – lets even the score gentleman!
mr bowtie / October 10, 2013 at 08:30 pm
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i wonder when his lease is up.
that will be a good indicator of OGX's success.

having chicks with tits that hang out & covered in tat's, with the offering of the same cut that every other salon or barber in toronto provides, i'm still not sure what sets this place apart from the rest. (besides the inflated price).

i have yet to meet a male who gets excited for paraffin wax hand treatment. its so over done. hells, even man kind offers it next door.

based on the number of chairs they have, and the cost of rent in that unit, i give them 2 years max.

i look forward to hearing how this place is through the man-grapevine.
Andrew / October 11, 2013 at 01:28 am
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Like many other comments here, I'm just wondering what makes this barbershop stand apart from it's competitors within the city. I haven't been there to fully scope out this place but the concept seems to be a little bit too contrived for my liking. Also, to those who mention supercuts and other sub par salons, it's out of context. The reality is that there are so many places that can offer the same or better quality haircuts for far less. Just my two cents.
kevin / October 11, 2013 at 11:27 am
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It's a ballsy move and a proverbial middle finger to open 2 doors down from a competitor.
KingHangs / October 11, 2013 at 03:09 pm
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This barber shop is frequented by the most successful, hard-working, well-dressed people in the city -- and while this may not be your cup of tea, the cost is well worth the price of admission. The haircuts are tops, the only place I know that gives proper fades and cuts at one shop.

This place is not for everyone, and judging from some of the close minded comments, you are not wanted anyways. (shoutouts to #2 fade & mr.bowtie)

Some of you here, hiding behind a keyboard with their negative comments don't deserve the kind of treatment OGX provides.

So please save your judgements for something you have experienced, A barbershop filled with the best talent in the city.

Also, I am sure that koolaid either has no hair, or the worst hair cut ever.
Khristopher / October 11, 2013 at 04:45 pm
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I will not pay $45 for a haircut again. Not here or anywhere. Basic men's haircuts do not take long and are really quite simple.
Chris M / October 13, 2013 at 01:00 am
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$45 dollars does seem steep, although I would consider going and giving the place a try on bigger occasions like my wedding next summer. Again price is higher then what I'd normally pay, but is it the reputation I'm paying for? However it does spark an interest that their aren't remarks about a bad haircut experience from these guys. You probably see me pre-wedding time.
Anonymous / October 17, 2013 at 10:26 am
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I get the best cut of my life with Jason. That's one. Number two is that I like the idea of booking my appointment and I'm always taken *on-time* for my cut. Never had to wait a minute. I can't stress the importance of that. And you know what, sure, I could live without some of the added perks that OG gives out but for the first 2 reasons alone (1: Jason is great, and 2: always on-time) I'm willing to dish out more than double what someone is used to paying for a haircut.

To each their own in the end. But I wouldn't go out to ruin a good thing for some folks based on personal perspective/opinion.
d / October 23, 2013 at 05:19 pm
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People need to get over themselves! It's just HAIR! There are more important things in life, like having a soul.
C / October 26, 2013 at 04:49 am
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Great location and place... To bad the service and people do not match the look. The service was terrible... I felt like the staff were in their own world. They need to be more respective to the customer. I had called in and they told me to just come in (no need to book an appointment). I get there and they are having a staff meeting. I waited for about 15 minutes (by the doors, they did not offer for us to sit), and stood their along with some strangers. Talking about customer service (I thought I was being punked).
Reub / November 2, 2013 at 03:57 pm
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What's with all the negative comments? Are humans that evil that they wanna see their fellow humans fail? If you don't want to spend the money, then don't. Your cheapness should not try and ruin this man's business. A Bus and a Benz both get you from A to B. You get what you pay for, and if you don't want the luxury and the pampering experience, then take the bus, and don't hate the Benz. I bet all these cheap haters spend $25 on a hair cut then go to a club and spend $100 in a few hours, then go home alone with thier ugly haircuts.
Brian / February 13, 2014 at 01:58 pm
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Went to this place once.. Got a regular haircut.. Skinny dude thought he was the god of hair cutting .. Nothing special except for the price $50 .. Daaamn

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