Hotels offer many services from doing guests’ laundry to delivering food, but not many also offer grooming services for guests. A Silver Spring resident is using his business to change that.
Darius Davie, 31, found his path as a barber while pursuing a career in the music industry for six years as a contractor helping to cultivate artists.
Sometimes while working with those artists, he would provide grooming services.
“I was actually on the road sometimes and I would be cutting [the hair of] some of the artists,” he said. He then realized that “if I really focus on this, it can be something else. I can explore this opportunity.”
Davie started his brand, Groom Guy, about four years ago as a blog that provided grooming and general tips for men, which would accrue to about 1,000 readers weekly. He runs it with his business partner Matthew Sears, 30, who serves as the operations director out of New York.
Davie said he compares grooming to art and the theater, which he studied in high school in New York.
“The idea that you get to draw somebody in with very much a timeless craft, with [an] art form that has a lot of depth to it, the human connection that you have, the social connectivity that’s really strong there, the personal relationship – all of that journey got me into it,” he said. “The technical side of it was learning how to frame looks and styles onto people’s faces.”
The Groom Guy brand started to evolve as Davie wanted to try new things in barber services. “[Groom Guy] has cemented itself into this model of hospitality with this kind of boutique design of a groom guy space,” he said.
The Groom Guy brand really grew early in the coronavirus pandemic as salons were closing, some barbers started switching careers and some brands started to wither, Davie said. It was then that he began looking for a way to create something accessible to people.
A New York native, Davie moved to Montgomery County six years ago after studying the market and to be closer to his now-wife, Christine.
In 2021, Groom Guy opened a pop-up location at Yours Truly hotel in Northwest Washington, D.C., offering services including cutting, beard maintenance and some of the business’s products such as brushes, shampoo and conditioner.
“Yours Truly’s partnership with Groom Guy speaks to the property’s ethos as being a hub for the community — a hangout hotel with a team who values supporting local talent and bringing new experiences to guests,” Tauseen Malik, general manager of Yours Truly DC, said in an email. “Darius’ vision to honor the legacy of barbershops and raise awareness for how they have influenced our city is well-aligned with our passion for programming that immerses our guests in the narrative of Dupont Circle and DC.”
A year later, the business now has a permanent residency in the hotel.
“Many times, people travel and were struggling to find a reliable brand, a brand that they can trust to get their everyday care needs met,” Davie said. “Once we decided, ‘let’s try this hotel model,’ that’s when it really took off.”
Not only can patrons of the Groom Guy receive grooming services, they also can grab the signature drink named after the business at the hotel bar. The Groom Guy, also known as the Barber Boulevardier, is a take on an old-fashioned cocktail.
Davie said it was actually a book called Cutting Along the Color Line: Black Barbers and Barbershops in America by Quincy T. Mills that influenced him to develop the concept of partnering with hotels to offer grooming services rather than open barber shops.
“It was a book that changed my life, about the history of barbers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There was a rise of some prominent barbers across America,” he said. “Essentially, they were really kind of pushing the line on the barber industry as well… . So I’m reading this book, I’m hearing about these prominent barbers and, most importantly, I’m hearing it’s been done. So when I’m reading the book, I kind of used that as my blueprint on top of other global experiences and seeing what’s happening around the world.”
Although Groom Guy currently only has one location, Davie said his goals are to expand to various hotels and “be a premium hospitality brand that ultimately partners with a hotel group and be the one-stop destination for people to get their services, to get their information and to get their product.”
Groom Guy also serves the wedding industry and he and Sears want to launch a Groom Guy product line as well, Davie said.
“We essentially provide wedding services to groomsmen and so we can partner with a number of different hotels on that front,” he said. “That’s a budding new feature, we just launched that service that we’re super excited about.”
Davie also is passionate about bringing his grooming services to the Montgomery County area by expanding his business’ service in more hotels within the county.
“We’re going to need to bring this service to provide a lifeline to the community because, in a lot of ways, Groom Guy and the hair industry has an interesting way of having a circle of connections,” he said. “It’s just how to try to fortify relationships with local companies and then focus on the people from that.”