With barbers and hairdressers just given the go-ahead to re-open in Melbourne this week after 111 days of stage 4 lockdown, MDK found it only fitting to shed some light on this sector to provide some much-needed relief after a super hard slog that 2020 has served upon it.
Uncle Rocco’s is a traditional barbershop that specialises in classic barber services whilst providing a superior client experience situated within the back streets of South Melbourne. Owner/operator Fabian Sfamini is a third-generation barber and has developed an unrivalled barbering style which he lovingly passes onto his crew of in-house barber’s.
Uncle Rocco’s is not just a place you acquire a sharp haircut or beard trim from, it’s a place where lads go to throw themselves into a historic experience. After all, Rocco’s as it's known by its locals, is a place to be seen and heard, a place to have a beer and enjoy yourself while being immersed by your very own barber who’s not only extremely talented at his barbering skills but extremely humble about it. Somewhat rare in an environment just outside of Melbourne’s bustling CBD where so often, hipsters within coffee to fashion houses can be disinterested about your needs or far too cool to serve you.
MDK had the pleasure to chat with Fab about the marketing surrounding the Rocco’s brand and we dig deep into what makes a small business successful towards its army of loyal converts.
Hi Fab, thanks very much for agreeing to chat with us. I, first of all, was curious to ask, in terms of the unique feel of the Uncle Rocco’s brand, would it be a stretch to say that much of the influence toward the brands overall feel has come from 1950’s rocker style?
In the early days, I gravitated towards that rocker style, but the true influences of the Uncle Rocco’s brand are heritage, tradition, authenticity and quality. Being a third-generation barber has been my biggest personal influence with customer service being a key component of the brand philosophy. In terms of uniqueness, I’ve always tried to create an environment slightly off the beaten track. The idea has been to create a destination with a unique atmosphere where people feel special.
Outside of the barbershops branding, you have also stepped into clothing and accessories incorporating a small pocket of men’s clothing and grooming products. Do you feel that having additional branding has made an impact on your market position? And, do you feel this has solidified the brand from a client perspective?
Growing the brand to include apparel, grooming and accessories have always been a dream of mine. Slowing growing our range has been hard work, but I definitely feel it brings the brand to another level and gives it a higher industry profile. It has certainly strengthened the brand and helped us to take it interstate and overseas with a distributor in the U.S. It provides our clients with another element to the experience and something to look forward to as we often do limited runs of unique products. We change it up regularly from custom cutthroat razors, apparel and novelty items like camping mugs and bay rum scented candles.
I see you have collaborated with Colonial Brewing Co. for your free beer offering with each haircut within the salons. How did this collaboration come about?
Since the early days, I’ve offered a free beer with a haircut and I always wanted my own branded beer. So, when I opened the Port Melbourne barbershop is was the perfect opportunity to form a relationship with a brewing company that was in the same building. Colonial Brewing Co. was an easy fit and a collaboration ensued. They have been a great company to work with and have really looked after our needs. While we have done the same in return keeping them well-groomed.
You’ve expanded the business recently adding another salon in South Melbourne. Do you feel franchising the business is something you’d be partial to in future to expand the business further and increase market share?
While opening the second shop has been a great way to expand the business, the idea of a franchise is something that doesn’t appeal to me personally. I’ve always wanted Uncle Rocco’s to be a unique boutique brand and not something that you see just anywhere. I have a great deal of passion within what I do and enjoy keeping it more exclusive and staying more directly connected with both the barbers and clients. Barbering is a very personal service.
Your branding is well designed and executed! Is there a particular agency responsible for Uncle Rocco’s designs overall?
The majority of the branding design has been done in house between my wife and me. She's an architect and has a good eye for design, layout and graphics and has been able to help steer my ideas into a more refined direction. All of the Uncle Rocco’s products themselves are produced by our manufacturing company UR Hombre, which I am also have a partner in. He has a professional background in graphic design and the apparel industry, so he’s got all the technical industry skills that help pull it all together.
Early on I received some invaluable advice from a mate about how to create a powerful recognisable brand. He worked at senior level for Country Road then later started his own brand ‘Elwood’. I credit him for a lot of the decisions I’ve made regarding keeping the brand tight and true. He’s sadly no longer with us.
Anything you’d like to add? ‘Look after your customers, stay true to yourself!’
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