The Epiphany - 2010
After witnessing that men had to do the "Walk of Shame" at her favorite spa, & realizing that barbering was a dying artform, Ms. Laura Mercedez seized the opportunity to reinvent The Art of Men's Grooming Experiences, & concepted Gentlemens Republic Barbersalon, becoming The Experts In Men's Grooming.
But first a step in time..
In the early '60s the Beatles set the stage for long hair and the style for the next 30 years. In 1971 The movie SHAMPOO portrayed Warren Beatty, was a Beverly Hills hairdresser who lived a glamorous lifestyle. This movie really changed the hair culture for barbers. For the most part their craft consisted of short hair styles and many refused to cut long hair, so they started to lose clientele to hairdressers. Beauty schools started enrolling more and more men to become hairdressers and less to become barbers.
The start of the chop shop like supercuts in the 80's, was the place most men had their haircut. Then the metrosexual movement began to rise in the 90's, and many men felt that it did not suit their lifestyles at the time. Barbers were too old school for most, and were not current with the styles of the time, so many barbershops went into decline and many closed.
The Movember Foundation Movement began in Australia in 2003 to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancers. It raised nearly $21 million in 2013. "We are all about the mustache and only the mustache,". So, every November, men grew out their mustaches, then they slowly started to add beards to it around 2011.
Locally, across the border from El Paso, Texas, Juarez, Mexico was one of the last places to get your barbering taken care of, but with the rise in crime, it was too dangerous to cross over and lots of shops started going out of business.
The recession was going hard and owner Ms. Mercedez took on the challenge to renovate a 99-year old building built in 1910 & located at 1709 Montana. She turned it into a stunning men's barbersalon and spa. She had built-in sinks with granite salon top stations, crystal chandeliers hung in the entryway, slate walls in the men's spa and a bar for complimentary scotch or bourbon drinks. This was a first in the nation for men.
The only problem was, where do you find barbers? At the time, being a barber was becoming a lost artform. Most barbers were on Dyer street, 60-80 years old, & about to retire. So, after serious searching and no luck, she turned to the unemployment office here in El Paso, and lo and behold she found a true master, William Hendricks. The 20-year Master Barber from North Carolina did not understand why Ms. Mercedez wanted barbers to use scissors, especially since their trade mainly used clippers. It took a while, but he realized that she was onto something great. She even came up with her own beard/shave oil line named, The Bearded Kings by Gents Republic.
Gentlemens Republic starts to outgrow its current location and needs a new home. Owner Ms. Mercedez comes upon 1712 North Mesa, A Historical Trost Home. (picture in black and white with little girl in background from website)
The Lawson Home, at 1712 N Mesa, was once considered by architects to be one of the finest creations of the famous firm of Henry C. Trost. It was built in El Paso from 1913 - 1914 for Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Milton Lawson. Mr. Trost built around 220 buildings during his time in El Paso. He was one, who let himself be known by his works, rather than his words, one who made a valid and lasting contribution to the development of this great region. "His was a life of purpose and achievement, and he leaves the Southwest richer for his having lived and worked in it."- The El Paso Times Newspaper1933.
The building construction consists of being a 1-Story building with simple lines, beautiful proportions, and a plastered exterior, although most importantly it was constructed with Concrete Casted Molds. It has wide projecting stone cornices, wooden carved overhangs to showcase the grandeur of the beautiful home, and the special handsome concrete coping, including the two front large concrete casted windows with an arched front opening with a stunning patio view of downtown El Paso.
Mr. Lawson, who was born in 1879 in Washington, DC, A Civil Engineer, came to El Paso to dedicate himself to his life's work, his concern of our most precious resource-WATER. The job he found the most satisfaction with was his appointment as The American Commissioner of The International Boundary & Water Commission by President Coolidge, he served from 1927-1954. His most distinguished and proudest project was the negotiation of "The Water Treaty Between the US & Mexico of 1944".
Mr. Lawson was a distinguished diplomat, a generous philanthropist, a noted engineer and he truly loved El Paso. Mr. Lawson was 34 when he moved his family to El Paso. He passed away quietly at the age of 84, in 1963, in the Lawson Home.
The House sold to the Kerr Family in the 60s who had it as a law firm, then it sold it to Sonny Corral who owned the Famed Hair Odyssey from the 70's-90's. It was the hair place to go for the Who's Who Of El Paso, and it remained extremely popular during its reign, until the death of Sonny Corral from cancer. It was then turned in salon 1712, but sadly it did not make it and the building was again up for sale.
Ms. Mercedez took great pleasure in personally bringing the home back to its original glory by putting in some work herself sanding floors, painting and decorating the home to show case it's great bones. From its inception Gentlemens Republic has set the bar of excellence very high and has become the EXPERTS IN MENS GROOMING®
To celebrate it's 10-Year Anniversary, in 2021 a Men's Gift Shop was set up to carry Facial, Beard, Hair, Body Products, T-shirt's, Men's Accessories including Gents Republic personal line of Bowties & Handkerchiefs. Also look for our One-Of-A-Kind men's gifts for that special man who has everything.
We hope that you enjoyed our website and your experience here. Thank you for supporting a small woman owned business. See you soon.