Charlie Bianco in Charlie's East Coast Hair Designs on
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
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,”
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.
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
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