THE GRAND ROYAL STORY
When we opened our first salon back in 1999, we wanted to revolutionise the barbershop landscape. And so, we set out to create a barbershop with old fashioned values but using modern technology and know-how. A place that was customer-focused, where a chap could take the time to relax in the chair and be pampered by a cutter who took their trade seriously and who knew their way around a man’s head.
And so, Grand Royal was born. Much to our clients’ surprise, Grand Royal wasn’t named in a futile attempt to sound regal and British. It was named after the record label and magazine of our favourite band: The Beastie Boys. We have always been interested in popular culture. We love 90s music, Bay Rum, and vintage barber chairs – the ones in our salons date back to the 1930s.
We put a lot of our success down to education. All our rookie barbers go through our GR intensive boot camp where we take them out bush, drill them on providing a superior customer service, and then make them do 50 push-ups and 10 burpees. Plus, each week they are offered a refresher course in beard-shaping, shaving, and what’s new in men’s hairstyles and hair products.
Nowadays, we have three unique destinations across Sydney. But all of them share one thing in common. They are all about giving you the best possible barbershop experience on the planet.
MEET OUR FOUNDERS
It was way back in 1985 when Grand Royal founder, Steve Salecich, completed his apprenticeship at the renowned Stuuts of Sydney salons back in 1985. Under the guidance of Norman Ironside and Sharron Blain, Steve learnt the fundamentals of cutting, running a great business, and training.
After leaving Stuuts, Steve joined his father – a fourth generation master barber – where he honed his skills and was taught the finer art of the face shave, beard designs and the more traditional aspects of cutting and razoring.
Leaving Australia for England in 1990, Steve found work in a traditional barbershop in Fulham. It was here he met Dino the Greek and Joe the Italian, who helped Steve understand the importance of banter in creating the kind of barbershop experience a man appreciates.
When he returned to Sydney, in 1994, Steve purchased his father’s barbershop at the bottom of the Hilton Hotel, running the shop for several years, while continuing his training.
It was in 1999 that Steve fulfilled his dream to launch Grand Royal Barbers. Eventually he went into partnership with his wife, Maria and together they opened another salon in Darlinghurst. A third salon followed in 2013, at Surry Hills.
Steve has always believed in a sound education, and attributes this as the catalyst of his success. When a position as an Educator with American Crew was offered, Steve jumped at the opportunity and worked with the company for more than five years. Although he has more than a quarter of a century of experience, Steve says he is still learning, and enjoys passing on his knowledge to the next generation.
“I’m very proud of the experienced staff in our team and the three great destinations we have created. We have a band of juniors coming through who are being trained by some of the best barbers in the industry, which in turn will mean a healthy crop of new barbers to keep our craft alive.”
Maria completed her hairstyling apprenticeship in Scotland in 1985 and decided she wanted to specialise in male barbering. The 80s New Romantic look was in full swing and Maria enjoyed creating some pretty wild styles. She eventually left Scotland to work in Miami Florida, The Channel Islands, and finally London.
In London, Maria worked in a barbershop not far from the Tower of London, where she mastered the art of beard-shaping. Word grew of her beard-shaping skills and before long most of the Beefeaters from the Tower of London became regular clients.
Maria became manager of the London salon and transformed the shop into a thriving destination, known for its talented staff and excellent music collection. So successful was the barbershop that two more were opened; one in St Paul’s and the other in Spitalfields Market. Maria was mentored by Mike Harris, who gave her the confidence to break free and run her own business.
Arriving in Sydney in 1997, Maria started working alongside Steve and his father at the Hilton Hotel. She immediately discovered that father and son shared her passion for men’s hair styling and attention to detail and craft. Steve and Maria decided to form a partnership and finally opened a barbershop in Darlinghurst, to complement the already successful city salon.
Grand Royal in Darlinghurst is the barbershop of choice to many of the local men, where Maria and her staff have built many long-lasting client friendships over the past decade. When one of Maria’s regular clients offered her the chance to take over their lease at a busy corner shop in Surry Hills, Maria saw this as a chance to create another local barbershop.
Maria believes education is the way forward and still takes regular cutting and business courses. With hairstyles continuously evolving and being revisited, she’s even finding some of her early 1980s creations back in style.
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We are always looking for vibrant talent. If you love what you do and are a barber that wants to progress your career – get in touch.