An End of Summer IRON Update

Author: Mark Ludovico, BUSINESS Man

Author: Mark Ludovico, BUSINESS Man

IRONWORKS, Men's Grooming & Supply Co. is about BUILDING GREAT MEN and this month I would like to give an update on the status of the business, share some customer feedback, as well as a little of my vision for this enterprise.  I want to give a personal update since I feel IRONWORKS, Men’s Grooming & Supply Co. is more than one person’s vision or small business, it is truly something for the entire RVA community.  I can’t tell you how many people stop and ask me, “How we are doing?”  People are excited and interested in seeing IRONWORKS, Men’s Grooming & Supply Co. succeed and thrive, so I think it is appropriate to share a little of our journey with you.

Overall I am pleased with where the business is. IRONWORKS, Men’s Grooming & Supply Co. has been open for 7 months.  It seems like aeons ago that we were in the buildout phase and racing to open before Christmas. As you might know, IRONWORKS is a local start-up, had no brand, and opened in the dead of winter, so as expected we started from zero.  However, by the end of February we began to see steady customers and since then we have seen very nice month-over-month growth. 

The first goal for every new business is to get stable, establish good processes, work out system kinks, develop a solid staffing model, and get to a monthly cash-neutral position where revenues cover the expenses.  All of this typically takes 24 months.  IRONWORKS, Men’s Grooming & Supply Co. is well on its way to doing all of the above.  Our computer system has been significantly smoothed out; our staff had some early changes but remains very excited, and we are well on our way to monthly break even.  All combined, these are huge milestones and I thank each of our customers and staff for being part of this journey. 

Giving and receiving feedback is crucial to any person’s development.  Men who don’t take the time to ask for feedback and listen really do themselves a disservice in the long run, and IRONWORKS, Men’s Grooming & Supply Co. is no different.  I seek feedback from many customers, staff, and even outside advisors in order to make the business stronger and better.  The feedback that we receive has been hugely positive; we even have customers who routinely are walking by the store and simply stop in to say a quick hello, laugh with one of the staff, and then go on their way. Akeme Foster, one regular customer since January, tells us “It feels like family in here; I love stopping in just to say hi.”

Hearing just the positive, however, does not make someone better, and IRONWORKS, Men’s Grooming & Supply Co. has benefited from some great feedback from customers.  This has allowed the staff and I to address areas that need addressing.  I want to encourage customers to continue to provide feedback to me, or any staff member – the success of your barbershop depends on it.

Next investments will focus on continued staff growth and development, retail and service expansion, and hosting special events.   I’m excited about these investments and expect that customers will.  We’ve already expanded our product line with V76, El Patron, Gibbs, and Woody’s which are superior men’s shampoo and hair styling product lines. We are in the process of expanding the razors we carry with the addition of exciting pieces from Merkur.  We’ve also started a Tuesday for IRONWORKS women; ladies can now enjoy a little of the IRONWORKS environment with Angela on Tuesdays!  In September, we are getting ready to bring on a new barber and I look forward to announcing him when the time is right.  Lastly, we are working to be able to host special events at the store.  If you have a special event that you are planning, please talk to us to see if we can help make it a great event.

BUILDING GREAT MEN is a tall order, but it is what inspires me.  I love meeting the customers and making IRONWORKS, Men’s Grooming & Supply Co. RVA’s premium destination for men’s grooming. 

Remembering Our Past

Author: Mark D Ludovico: Navy Man and American Man

IRONWORKS, Men's Grooming & Supply Co. is about BUILDING GREAT MEN and this Memorial Day weekend, IRONWORKS wants to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom and proudly hangs red, white, & blue bunting from its awning this weekend to help us all remember our past and to think about those families among us that are missing a family member.  Memorial Day remembers more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of the United States, and its origins date back to the Civil War.

Great nations are made up of great men & women who never forget their past, and it is essential that each generation remembers and honors the sacrifices of prior generations.  Why?  Simply put, because liberty and freedom are not free and came at an enormous cost.  Days like Memorial Day are like old pictures with a special frame passed down from your parents or grand parents.  Olds photos, like Memorial Day, are designed to cause us to remember something special or important.  Special days of remembrance are important for societies and for Americans since we all need to pause and remember those who fought and gave their lives for the principles & values of freedom and liberty. 

Memorial Day is a day for Americans to remember our past and empathize the loss of loved ones with fellow citizens we do not know & neighbors who we do.  Our society takes one day each year to pause and remember something that honestly, most of us have a hard time relating to.  Let us take a moment this long weekend, to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, let us reflect on the sacrifices that our military personnel have made, and let us grieve with those who grieve a loss.  Why?  Because that is what great men and great nations do ... we remember our past.

Inspiration

Author: Mark D Ludovico: Navy Man, Corporate Man, Family Man, & Entrepreneur Man

Many friends and colleagues ask me what inspired IRONWORKS, Men's Grooming & Supply Co.?   Why did I work 18-months to open a brick-and-mortar store and why did I take on such a large project?  What, for the sake of life & liberty, inspired me to open a men’s hair salon and barbershop?

The answer is closely tied to my perspective on life and my leadership experiences.  I was born and raised in a small town in northern New York into a middle class family.  For outdoor enthusiasts, Saranac Lake is known for great skiing, beautiful lakes, superior camping and hiking, and of course very cold winters.  When I turned 18, I joined the Navy and literally saw the world, learning about life and leadership.  I served on 4 ships and visited 43 countries.  Now almost 30 years later, with 21 years of Naval duty behind me (10 active/11 reserve), 18 years of marriage, 3 kids, and 16 years of corporate experience I believe I can inspire men to be better at being men.  I think through a platform of a local barbershop where men gather to look their best, I can help create an environment to inspire men to be great at being men – simple and straight forward.   

So why a men’s hair salon/barbershop?  The answer is simple.  I wanted to invest in something different and to be able to connect and inspire men to be great, to do things larger than themselves, and to make a difference in their communities, neighborhoods, families, and places of work.