Hassan Demarco, Master Barber and COO of ETHOS GSFM.

A Cut Above: ETHOS GSFM

Ethos GSFM takes the holistic artistry of men’s grooming to the next level.

What do you expect when you go to get a trim? A collegial and competent barber, a relaxed atmosphere, a little light banter, and most importantly — to look better when you get up from the chair than when you sat down.

However, what if there was a shop that took a more universal approach — where the experience was even fresher than the fade? A place that catered to the gentlemen’s gentlemen, where you could get a facial and some grooming advice from a crew of knowledgeable professionals who are vested in the shop, not merely renting a chair. A grooming club of sorts, where you’re a member and not just a customer.

Oh, and most importantly, you get up from the chair not only looking better but actually feeling better than when you sat down.

That was the vision renowned Philly barber Hassan DeMarco and partners Jonathan Jacobs, and Anton Brochenko have realized with their latest venture, Ethos GSFM (Grooming Station For Men). The first incarnation of the instantly inimitable brand surfaced in the cozy confines of 1818 Market Street in 2018 to rave reviews.

However, the new Center City North location, which debuted this February at Hanover North Broad (Broad and Callowhill) is already making its case as the tonsorial Taj Mahal of the city. So like the former Inquirer building that looms, scaffolded, catty-corner to the cutlery, Ethos GSFM represents a conceptual renaissance in the City of Brotherly Love. In essence, it’s a game changer.

“We wanted to have a brand new vision for what men’s grooming means,” says the affable DeMarco, 43, whose youthfulness belies his near quarter-century in the business. “That changing of the business is being done both inside and out. It’s not just about a look or a good appearance. It’s also about functionality. So we’re trying to reimagine every phase of it.

“The traditional barber shop is great, but we felt like it was missing a lot of the components that would make the experience better. What we’ve developed is a luxury brand experience for barbers where we’re providing a service for the metropolitan gentleman.”

Mission accomplished.

Guests are greeted at the door of the ultra-modern yet welcoming space and offered a drink (water, coffee, tea, San Pelligrino, whiskey bourbon or scotch) and a comfortable seat in the centrally located lounge area to begin the grooming experience.

After an impeccable cut and perhaps a hot towel shave or beard maintenance session by a licensed barber stylist — or grooming consultant in Ethos parlance — customers are treated to a luxuriating four-part facial and back massage — all in about an hour.

Appointments can be made online, but the full Ethos experience comes with membership. Several tiers of subscription-based Ethos GSFM membership are designed to accommodate just about every lifestyle and grooming regimen. All come with access to exclusive events and workshops as well as discounts on the extensive line of Triumph and Disaster men’s grooming products.

Need to link up with a haberdasher, cobbler, or master tailor? They’ve got you covered. An upcoming workshop will even feature a seminar on men’s health from an oncologist who also happens to be a client.

It’s a veritable one-stop shop for the metropolitan man on the go. The subscription model fits perfectly into the breakneck speed of millennial life, noted DeMarco. “What I’ve noticed mostly over 25 years in barbering is that time doesn’t come easily today. Things move at a faster pace, and people are very, very efficient. So they’re looking to streamline everything.”

“With a monthly membership, you don’t have to think about what you have to do, you just go right online, book your appointment and come on in. You get out of the chair, shake a hand — frictionless transaction — and you go about your day. We’re trying to incorporate technology into something that’s streamlined so it can become a matter of routine for you.”

DeMarco, a second generation barber who caught the cutterbug early on and embarked on his barbering career fresh out of high school, has seen the industry go through myriad changes since he first picked up a pair of clippers.

After graduating at the top of his class from barber school and serving a brief apprenticeship, he quickly ascended to shop manager before taking his first entrepreneurial steps as co-owner of Picasso’s International Hair Artistry — a venture he successfully rebranded six years later as the sole proprietor of the Northeast Philly staple, DeMarco’s Hair Artistry.

Always seeking to further his professional development in pursuit of perfecting his craft, DeMarco never rested on his laurels. He attended exhibitions and conventions, attracted a roster of high profile clientele, and eventually became a sought after stylist and lecturer on the hair show circuit, which he parlayed into another hustle as a consultant and International Educator for Clubman Pinaud — a gig that has taken him around the world and back. He recalls the advent of Twitter as “a game changer” because, for the first time, he could see what other barbers were doing from Tioga to Tokyo.

After a serendipitous meeting and subsequent friendship with Jacobs, an architect by trade who was clamoring for a better, more high-end type of shop, while also looking for a recession-resistant business opportunity, the seed that was destined to blossom into Ethos was sown. DeMarco credits a forward-thinking embrace of technology and the growing interest in male-specific grooming products and services with helping to set the course. However, it’s the curation of good relationships, and the familial treatment of clients and coworkers alike that’s at the core of the Ethos GSFM success story.

“We recognize we have a mission, and our mission is to provide for our families and provide a service to the community,” said Demarco. “We feel as though it’s important to groom men and to help them along the process with more than just a great haircut, we’re also trying to provide services that they’ll need to become the fathers’ husbands, men that they are.”

Images: Byron Purnell 

1 thought on “A Cut Above: ETHOS GSFM

  1. What an outstanding business model. Congratulations to DeMarco and the ETHOS GSFM staff. Blessings for more success to come.

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