The Innovator: Elliott Chester, of Elliott & Co.

Hector Leyva

Elliot Chester, owner of Elliot Chester & Co.

Shaving isn’t really about removing hair, guys, says Elliott Chester, it’s about skin care, healthy aging and relaxation. And for this marketing-savvy barber, that’s more than a philosophy—it’s business.

Chester opened his barbershop, Elliott & Co. at Eastern and Pebble, at the outset of the recession. Despite the timing, business was good—really good. That’s due, in no small part, to his creative, put-people-in-the-chair techniques.

Going on Twitter (@ElliottandCo) daily, Chester recently used his shop to host what he dubbed “Shirts, Shaves & Sake,” an event where men came to get a shave, enjoy a cocktail and be custom fitted for shirts and suits. In 2008 and 2009, he styled Esquire’s “Best Dressed Real Man,” making him a nationally-recognized barber. He also put on a “45-under-45” event at Blue Martini, which featured some of the city’s most dynamic young business people—the very same people Chester courts as clients.

“In my world, it’s all word of mouth, but my word of mouth includes celebrities and executives,” he says. “I’m a busy shop.”

Chester moved to Las Vegas from Bakersfield, CA, in 2004. He worked at high-end barbershops The Art of Shaving and Truefitt & Hill before opening Elliott & Co. in 2008.

When guys step into his shop, Chester says, they let their guard down. Top-level execs fall asleep while getting their shave. They talk sports. They let go of some of their stress, if only for a little while. For these guys, he says, it’s not just a barbershop, it’s a dudes-only sanctuary for professionals.

Getting a shave and a haircut is one of the few things a man can do to pamper himself without feeling self conscious, Chester says as ESPN’s SportsCenter plays on his shop’s flat-screen TV. Bottom line? It’s important to take care of yourself, Chester says. And, yes, that’s also smart business.

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