Emerson Joseph, located in South End, is Charlotte’s premier men’s salon and grooming lounge and the only one of its kind in the greater region (and, according to owner Zachary Edwards, well beyond). The team of well-trained stylists specializes in on-trend precision haircuts, straight-razor shaves, massages, facials, and much more. The lounge has a laid back vibe with a secret speakeasy located in the basement that you can only get into if you’re a member.
Edwards, who has successfully run the shop for nearly a decade, took a break from running his busy local spot to tell us what it’s like owning and operating a high-end men’s grooming salon.
What inspired you to take over Emerson Joseph when you did and what was it like when you bought it?
When the opportunity to buy the salon from the previous owner presented itself, it felt like a really natural fit, but really what they were selling was a convenient location with some nice accoutrements… not the high-end haircut place where you could get the best haircut of your life. And I wanted to change that.”
How would you describe a typical visit to Emerson Joseph today?
Whenever I travel, I try to get my hair cut at whatever the best place in town is. I went to the best place in Beverly Hills and in New York. Every time I leave, I always end up feeling like EJ really has something special; like this space, this environment, and the energy that’s here is special. There are a lot of places in the country with incredibly talented barbers and the haircuts are pretty amazing, but nothing ever feels the way that EJ feels.
What are some of the things from the experience that are different from a normal barbershop salon?
You get a beer with a haircut, but everybody kind of does that now. You get a shoeshine with a haircut and get your hands detailed. Plus, members here get access to the speakeasy in the basement. We have some special member events that we throw as well.
How do you train new stylists?
Everybody gets a technical review or a technical interview, and everybody goes through our training no matter what. And from there, it’s just a matter of how much time they spend in training based on how long it takes them to grasp the concepts. We have several people on staff who were educators at Aveda that are now educators here.
What makes a good so important?
The subtle differences in the shape of a haircut can make you look masculine, it can make you look feminine, or it can change the entire look of your face. So there is a whole science around head shape and creating the right haircut for your head shape and hair type.
Do you have any plans to open a second location?
It’s in the works.