A head for business
Charlie’s East Coast Hair Designs emphasizes customer service

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Oct. 16, 2015

 Charlie Bianco in Charlie's East Coast Hair Designs on Wednesday.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

TOWN OF BROOKFIELD - Sporting a tattoo of a barber shop pole on his forearm and speaking with a tough-guy Brooklyn accent, Charlie Bianco has an eye for style and a head for business.

Bianco opened Charlie’s East Coast Hair Designs at 285 N. Janacek Road five years ago, although he has been cutting hair for much longer. Bianco is a third-generation barber and grew up above his grandfather’s barbershop. At the age of 12, he was already working in the shop owned by his Italian immigrant family in Brooklyn.

By age 25, Bianco said he was burned out on the hair cutting and styling business. After getting a degree in marketing, he found himself in real estate, which brought him to the Milwaukee area. When the real estate market tanked around 2008, Bianco said, he fell back on his salon skills.

“I always fall back on this. I ride the economy,” Bianco said.

While Bianco may have “fallen back” on his barbershop skills, he is passionate about running a smooth operation that gives clients a top-notch experience.

“It’s a lifestyle - if you are going to do it right, it’s a life changer,” he said. “If I am going to do something, (I) have to be all in.”

 Nail technician Natalie Teays works on a client's hands at Charlie's East Coast Hair Designs on Wednesday.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Bianco emphasizes educating the stylists, of which there are currently 14, at Charlie’s. They are selected because they see working in a salon as a career and not simply a job. He said the formal education for stylists has changed to be more science-focused and goes over health and safety.

“We want to look for the people who will fuel our positive passion,” Bianco said.

To build his clientele base, Bianco strives to create a connection with the customers from the greeting they receive when they walk through the door until they are addressed as they leave.  New clients get a tour of the salon and everyone is offered a drink. He also implemented technology to send text reminders for appointments and follow-up surveys about how a person’s experience was.

“It’s all about repeat business and being happy every single time,” Bianco said.

Franciscan Healthcare connection

It was his approach to business and the positive reviews posted online by clients that prompted Jennifer Thomas, operations coordinator at Franciscan Healthcare-Franciscan Woods, to see if Bianco would be interested in running the senior living facility’s salon.

She said when she spoke with Bianco, he was intrigued about the opportunity and informed her about the community service he provides.

Charlie’s East Coast Hair Designs took over management and staffing of the salon in Franciscan Woods in March. Bianco said he hired a stylist specifically for that position because he knew someone special was needed there.

Gabby Torres, he said, has been great with the senior clientele, some of whom have dementia and many who are in wheelchairs. Torres brings warmth to the position, he said. The appointments are made through the main Charlie’s salon.

“It has been excellent,” Thomas said of working with Bianco. “We wanted someone who is personable and could connect to our demographic and population.”

It’s also been good marketing for Charlie’s, Bianco said, because family members of the senior residents or staff at Franciscan Woods now seek the salon’s services on Janacek Road.

Bianco likes to give back to the community and partners up annually with a group of Brookfield businesses to collect food items for the food pantry in November or items in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention in April. This past year ,items went to the Women’s Center of Waukesha. The food drive for the New Berlin Food Pantry will kick off Nov. 15 with food bins at area businesses, including Charlie’s.

Also in November, Bianco will open the East Coast Medical Spa inside Charlie’s East Coast Hair Designs, which will offer the services of Dr. Bruce Cardone, who owns Vena. Services at East Coast Medical Spa will include laser hair removal, medical facials and non-invasive liposuction.

While Bianco has a lot of paperwork to keep him busy as he grows his business, he still finds time to work on the floor, spending about 45 hours per week working directly with clients.


Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com