To some barbers, providing haircuts is just a means to an end. Cutting and styling hair is a way to earn an honest living and nothing more. But for Alex Hano, each time he stands behind his chair inside the barbershop that he owns and operates, Alex connects with his community and his family.
At 30 years young, Alex is the proud owner of Hano Henry Gentlemen’s Barbershop, an upscale grooming destination located in Villa Park, Illinois. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Chicago, which makes it one of the very few high end barbershops in that area.
Alex took the time and energy to restore the property where his shop now stands in the same way that he takes it upon himself to always provide meticulously sharp grooming details to make sure each one of his clients look their absolute best, so they can feel their absolute best.
When asked why he enjoys spending his hours sculpting beards like a fine artist and shaping linings with the precision of a surgeon, the answer for Alex Hano was simple—it’s all about giving back to the community while becoming a successful man that his children can look up to.
Keep reading to learn more about the road to success that Alex took to make him a perfect candidate for our Self-Made series, a special project designed to highlight the work of entrepreneurs like Alex, who we also celebrated in our Book Small campaign.
The Special Occasion Barber
Inside the shop, a few regulars call Alex their “special occasion barber,” because they always come to Alex before important professional events and family gatherings. More specifically, they come to Alex when they need a flawless cut from a tried and true expert.
Even though that means Alex isn’t the type of barber who sees each regular every week, he takes pride in the nickname and sees it as a compliment. And that’s because it means his skills with the tools of his trade mean something special to each and every one of his clients.
“I have some clients who say I’m expensive. But they call me their special occasion barber. They’re like, ‘I can’t go to you every week. But if I’m going to a wedding, or if I’m going somewhere where I have to look good—like a job interview—I go to you. Because you’re going to give me the best haircut I could have,’” said Alex.
In addition to recognizing his level of skill, people around town also know that Alex is someone who connects with every teacher, policeman, local politician, and neighbor who walks through the doors of his shop, because to Alex being a barber means being a part of something bigger.
Growing up in a closely knit family taught Alex to value others, especially his community. Every day, he tries to set a good example as a father and a businessman. He simply wants to show his community that it’s possible to live a positive, healthy life while reaching financial goals.
The Surprise of a Lifetime
It’s common for neighborhood kids and teens to hang around a barbershop. But Alex said there’s something a little more special about the way that youths growing up in the neighborhood think about his sophisticated space that nods to the old school barbershop era.
Every time someone walks in the door to his shop, the smell of barbicide and shaving cream invites them to sit down and thumb through an old school Sports Illustrated magazine from the 1970s. An antique cash register sits on a glass cabinet in the corner of the room. And each barber is dressed professionally from head to toe, wearing a tie, slacks, and business shoes.
For VIP clients, Alex is currently installing a private space called The Green Room. The area is tucked away behind the bookshelf. And it’s designed to give the feeling of sophistication and exclusivity that made Alex want to open this shop. Alex decided on the name because green is his favorite color—the color of money.
One neighborhood kid in particular really took all this to heart. When the pandemic hit, this young man heard his favorite barbershop would have to close its doors. To make sure Alex would be able to reopen that same young man did something truly unique.
Alex said the kid’s name is Blake. During the pandemic, Blake sold wooden tools that people could use while baking. People can use the tools to push pans into an oven and bring those pans out without burning themselves. Blake made the wooden tools with his grandfather but sold them himself. And all of this was because of his connection to the shop Alex created.
The first day Alex reopened the shop, Blake was there with his mom, and they were there with the gift. “So they came in with a giant check, and Blake made $1,300 almost. So, a 9-year-old kid told his mom, as they were driving past my shop, ‘I don’t want them to close down. What can we do to help them?’ And that’s what they did. They came, and they did that for me.”
The story was so touching, a major news organization decided to spread the word about the connection that Alex has with his community and how one young man did everything he could for the shop that he loves. Alex struggled to hold back a few tears, as he talked about the check that totaled to exactly $1,060. Blake raised even more in donations.
Using Booksy to Be a Dad
For Alex, the positive image that he can project as a barber happens both inside and outside of the shop. At home, Alex enjoys spending his time being a dad. And that’s especially the case, when he comes back home after a long day. Everytime, his kids act like they’ve won the lottery, when they see his face.
Alex said he always wanted to be a barber. He wanted this life so he could be successful and provide for his family. But he also wanted to connect with the community. And according to Alex, Booksy helps him accomplish these goals. In specific, Booksy helps Alex organize his schedule to give him back some valuable time.
“Booksy helps me have time with my kids, because my phone already rings a lot. And Booksy books about 98% of my clients. So, if everybody was calling me and everyone was texting me—I’d be at home with my kids just on my phone all day, just booking all appointments,” he said. “Booksy helps me be a dad.”