The Refinery offers a boutique salon experience for the men of New Braunfels

NEW BRAUNFELS – The Refinery Men’s Grooming Salon at the Gruene Lake Village Mall in New Braunfels is a far cry from the traditional no-frills men’s barbershop.

While getting a haircut, refinery customers can pamper themselves with a hot foam neck shave, scalp or neck massage, paraffin wax hand treatment, or hair care. face including cleansing, exfoliation, vacuum pore extraction and a personalized face mask – all while enjoying a whiskey or local draft beer.

Owner Vicki Tefteller opened the store after spending five years cutting hair, including at a hair salon in San Antonio. During this time, she began to question the way many hair salons bring their clients in and out to see as many of them as possible in a day – a practice known in the industry as’ turn and burn. She said.

“I realized the need for full service, the need for male-oriented facials and more pampering-type services versus just back-and-forth,” she said. “I wanted to get away from that and focus more on the quality of the experience versus the amount of customers passing by.”

Tefteller, who grew up in La Vernia, entered the cosmetology industry because it only required one year of schooling, unlike many college degrees for which “the price just seemed outrageous,” a- she declared. Her first job was as an assistant to a woman who did skin care.

“Honestly, it was a practical choice. At first I was like, ‘Hey look, I could do this and pay my bills,’ she said. “And then I went for it. And I really fell in love with the human aspect of taking care of people.

Courtney Bradish points to a mirror as she styles Bowen Hubbard’s hair at The Refinery Men’s Grooming Lounge, 2363 Gruene Lake Drive, in New Braunfels on October 25, 2021.

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff Photographer

Tefteller and a business partner opened the refinery in November 2019 after receiving crucial advice from Spark Small Business Center, a program linked to the University of Texas at San Antonio that put her in touch with a mentor, the man New Braunfels Larry New Business. It “gave us a huge dose of reality,” she said.

The store was only four months old when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Tefteller, its business partner and their two employees to stop accepting appointments. But she said they got away with it thanks in large part to the support of the community, including their competitors.

In recent weeks, Tefteller has bought out her partner to become the sole owner of the store, which now has seven employees, including herself.

She was recently interviewed to discuss the pleasures of barbering, the growth of the men’s grooming industry, and the struggles to find retail space in the growing New Braunfels. The following has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Question: What do you mean when you say you love the human aspect of your job?

A: It’s not just the practicality of the job that I enjoy; it’s meeting people, building relationships, building that trust. If you think about it, you get your hair cut every two weeks, you see these people twice a month. It’s more than what you see most in your family, you know? I don’t see my cousins ​​twice a month, nor my uncles and aunts.

It is a very close and personal type of work. You know, we’re all in people’s bubbles, if you will. The confidence to not only make sure your hair is sticking out right, but to be close to someone as well. In other circumstances, you would probably never stand so close to someone or let yourself be touched. I always thought it was really cool.

Vicki Tefteller styles client Jered Moeller's hair at The Refinery Men's Grooming Lounge, 2363 Gruene Lake Drive, New Braunfels on October 25, 2021.

Vicki Tefteller styles client Jered Moeller’s hair at The Refinery Men’s Grooming Lounge, 2363 Gruene Lake Drive, New Braunfels on October 25, 2021.

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff Photographer

Question: It seems that the men’s grooming industry has grown in recent years.

A: I would certainly agree. I have the impression that in the grooming industry, men are often overlooked. I think for a long time there was this stigma of “Oh, it’s feminine”. Or, you know, “You’re a certain type of guy if you’re going to do these services.” Then I think we saw this whole revelation of men wake up and be like, “Man, if I have to spend $ 20 and not take advantage of my service that I have to do every two weeks, I might as well spend it. $ 30 and go like that.

Question: You were only open four months before the pandemic closed in March of last year. How did you experience this?

A: We have really succeeded in building on our community. There has been a lot of outreach from other businesses, other hair salons, from the local people who live in the community, as well as how little government support we have been able to receive. And just by working hard at home – we were taking pictures, we kept marketing, we kept people on the books for when we thought we’d be reopened. We’ve had a lot of customers jump online, and they’ve been kind enough to prepay for services or buy gift cards, buy t-shirts.

You know, it was almost a blessing in disguise that we only had four months, because we had been so conservative with the opening, with our money. We were so nervous about opening that we didn’t go all-in at the start.

Vicki Tefteller styles client Jered Moeller's hair at The Refinery Men's Grooming Lounge, 2363 Gruene Lake Drive, New Braunfels on October 25, 2021.

Vicki Tefteller styles client Jered Moeller’s hair at The Refinery Men’s Grooming Lounge, 2363 Gruene Lake Drive, New Braunfels on October 25, 2021.

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff Photographer

Question: Did you get help during this time from competitors?

A: Yes, definitely. There was a gentleman who owns a hair salon in town who came to buy us some T-shirts. He was doing autographs for us on Instagram.

Question: Was there a moment of inspiration when you first came up with the idea for your business?

A: It was kind of a progression. It was through a few work trials in different workshops that this was done slowly. You know, it was like, ‘Why do we do things this way? It does not please anyone. One thing I kept coming across was: it doesn’t serve customers; it does not serve the stylist. I think we should work smarter, not harder, you know?

I was relying on my experiences working in day spas, where you could be with one person for two or three hours. To me it makes so much more sense because it’s easier for the stylist and the client is having a much better time.

The Refinery Men's Grooming Salon is located at 2363 Gruene Lake Drive in New Braunfels.

The Refinery Men’s Grooming Salon is located at 2363 Gruene Lake Drive in New Braunfels.

Billy Calzada, Staff / Staff Photographer

Question: Are you excited to now be the sole owner of the business?

A: Yeah, extremely. I have a big vision of where we want to go. I want to build on building a really strong corporate culture so that it’s not only a place to come to get your services, but it’s also a great place to come to work every day. I got the girls excited – we are going to appoint an assistant manager and a team manager to help on the day to day.

Question: How did you raise the capital to start your business?

A: We actually used Spark (Small Business Center). They go through UTSA. He’s a consultant here in town, and they’re free, paid for by our taxes. I took free classes. The capital was a personal savings investment supplemented by a loan from a local bank that we secured using Spark.

We kept coming back to Larry (New) and going, “Okay, now what? What do you think about this? ”There were a few times he said,“ I think you have to aspire. I think it’s normal. ” Whenever we felt like we were between a rock and a hard place he was very instrumental, until we opened our doors.

Question: Apart from the pandemic, what were the other cases where you were between a rock and a hard place?

A: Because New Braunfels and Comal County were growing so fast, and because we were a start-up business without a big checkbook to go in somewhere and just sign a lease, one of the things that was really hard was to go. see a building and then decide we liked it, try to get back to the bank, put it in the business plan; we had to wait four or five days to get a response and by the time we were like, “Okay, cool, we’re ready, we can get it,” that was it. This has happened to us like five times.

I went (to Spark) and I was like, ‘What are we supposed to do? Because the bank doesn’t present (the money) to you, you have to tell them what you spend it on, when you spend it, how you spend it before they give it to you. And (Larry New) just said, “If you want to be involved in this city, then you have to be realistic about how long it’s going to take and how hard it’s going to be. “

Question: It looks like you’ve found a good location, however.

A: Yes, the village is great. (When looking for a location) I walked through this center and the first building just off the main road had a sign for rent. I got there so fast – my car was moving, I ran and called the number on the sign. The man replied – he was the owner – and he said, “You will never believe it, but I put this inscription 45 minutes ago and five people have already called me.”

I said, “OK, well, if you’re listening to me, I have a really good idea.” He was like, “Okay, let’s listen to him.” He felt that of all the other things that had been offered, this would have been the best fit for the space. And here we are!

Question: New Braunfels is changing so fast, what do you think?

A: I think for a lot of people it makes them uncomfortable because they lose their small town feel, but there are so many opportunities here for everyone and it was really, really cool to see members of the local community and business owners get together. And – how do I put it right? – he grows in a really positive and high quality way. The businesses that come to town are so well thought out and well executed, and I’m just proud to be a part of them.

Every day we meet new people entering the store, whether they are from the surrounding cities or from other states. I think it’s great – it leaves so much room for growth. If it makes you nervous and you don’t welcome it with open arms, it’s going to happen anyway and it’s probably going to crush you.

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