Grooming. To the despair of many men out there, it’s become an inevitable part of keeping jobs, friends, lovers, and generally maintaining your status within society. Women have reaped the many benefits of grooming practices for a very long time, and we have just found the perfect way for men to get involved. Welcome, Mankind.
Mankind is a barbershop with a twist. Founder Anka Miron told us what differentiates Mankind from the tradition barbershop is “the experience we create with our services.” Miron has incorporated an esthetic aspect into each one of her services, and she says “that’s what makes us different from the places that men are used to going. The barbershop is the inspiration for what we’re doing here, but we’ve also created the evolution of the barbershop with all the other services that are available at Mankind.”
Anka opened her first Mankind on Richmond Street about 4 years ago, and with her success she decided to open a second on Eglinton about 2 years later. Mankind’s Eglinton location has been open for just over a year and a half now and Anka says that many people recognize the shop because of the first location. She told us, “our customers have been to the Richmond location in the past because they work close to there, but they live closer to the Eglinton spot so having both locations really fits everyone’s needs.”
We asked Anka a few questions about Mankind and how she is building a community around her business:
155 Redpath: What made you want to get into the men’s grooming business?
Anka Miron: I came to Toronto 10 years ago from Europe and I was interested in trying everything as a career just to get a sense of different communities and mentalities. I went to school to become an esthetician with an emphasis in management. When I was in school, I decided to really focus on male clientele. People told me I was crazy, and that men don’t spend money on this kind of thing, that they don’t want to get groomed. The first thing I asked was whether anyone has really tried to break into the world of men’s grooming in Canada. My answer was generally no and I figured that it was definitely worth a try.
155: Do most of your clients come on their own, or are they sent by their partners?
AM: Most of the clients are sent by their partners. There’s usually a woman behind the reason men come in here for the first time. They come in for a haircut, which is called The Alpha Male, and that includes haircut and style, shampoo and conditioning treatment, scalp massage, paraffin hand wax, hand massage, hot towel and facial toner, clean-up shampoo, and a free touch-up within 2 weeks of previous appointment. That is a true introduction to some of the other services that we offer and it’s a huge reason the clients keep coming back. We try to offer more than just a haircut, we create an experience.
155: How has the community developed around Mankind on Eglinton?
AM: I find that especially at the Eglinton location, because there are so many people that come in from the neighbourhood, people bump into each other here. It’s a place for them to catch up, make plans for the weekend, so it is a place that brings people together in a comfortable way.
155: So you’ve created the nail salon equivalent for men?
AM: [Laughs] Yes. Small talk progresses into chatting about the girlfriend, or the wife and family and kids, and all of that. It’s really because that’s what they have in common.
Anka has lived in Toronto for about a decade now and says that she has always loved Yonge and Eglinton: “This was the first neighbourhood I moved into. I tried different neighbourhoods around the city and finally decided that I want to live here. That was about 5 years ago now.” Anka says she always had a feeling that Yonge and Eglinton would transition into a mini downtown neighbourhood and now that her business is here she is happy that her home and her office are really close to each other. When wandering the streets, Anka says, “I now bump into my clients constantly and instead of starting a conversation we are always continuing conversations, and that’s what I call a community. I go to restaurants, and link other companies and cultures into Mankind’s culture. I have built up many friendships, and I put a lot of value into that.”