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The Velo Barber

The Velo Barber

The Velo Barber

How NYC barber Julien Howard uses his bicycle to provide an out-of-the-box experience

Up until a few months ago, Julien Howard – widely known as the Velo Barber – personified the New York City grind. A barber by trade, Julien spent his day spinning across the city from one appointment to the next, providing a unique and highly convenient service to hundreds of clients. Like many personal care-based providers, COVID-19 forced the notoriously swift stylist to slow down and appreciate the small things.

‘New York City has always been more manageable on a bike,’ says Julien. ‘But this time has made it even more so and given me an opportunity to take some time to think about my business, my contribution, rest up and decide how to execute my creativity in different ways.’

While New York City may seem like the perfect place for a freelance barber, the commute quickly proved a logistical nightmare. Public transport was too slow to reach all of his clients in one day, and driving was even slower.

So Julien turned to the bicycle, and the bicycle became his brand. So much so that when he didn’t literally roll up to his clients’ homes, they’d ask if something was wrong. Julien became known as the biking barber, and thus, the Velo Barber was born.

The Velo Barber styles the hair of a client while wearing gloves and a mask in Times Square, which is nearly empty of cars and pedestrians.

The freedom of his work has given Julien the chance to meet clients from all walks of life. From athletes and entrepreneurs to tattoo artists, bartenders and CEOs – each has a unique story, and Julien makes a point of treating each appointment as an opportunity to learn something new.

Julien Howard aka The Velo Barber wearing a mask and gloves prepares his stylist’s toolkit in an empty Times Square.
A Trek bicycle in the foreground in front of Julien Howard cutting the hair of a client with city billboards behind them.
Julien Howard, The Velo Barber, trimming a man’s sideburns outside in Times Square while wearing gloves and a face mask.
Julien Howard with arms wide open balances on his Trek bicycle at night in Times Square.

‘I don’t know if I could do this anywhere else. There’s no place quite like NYC,’ he says.

But what do you do when the city that never sleeps comes to a screeching halt? Well, if you’re providing a service in high demand in a highly convenient way, you get creative. A quick cut in Times Square would have been unthinkable before it became devoid of people. And with the removal of thousands of cars from the streets and people avoiding mass transit, the Velo Barber already has the preferred mode of transportation.

‘I’ve always been a believer in quality over quantity,’ says Julien. ‘Having a lighter load for a little doesn’t bother me. And as my schedule fills up again and I go back to cutting hair, I want to make sure I’m providing a unique experience and adding value with each interaction.’

Julien Howard cutting the hair of a man sitting on a BMX bicycle.

As the world slowly reopens and businesses like Julien’s are deemed safer, he hopes to continue finding creative ways to connect safely with others. And while haircuts in the middle of a deserted Times Square may be few and far between, Julien will meet you wherever you are.

Have a cutting-edge idea you want to share? Connect with Julien on Instagram @TheVeloBarber.

Julien Howard aka The Velo Barber taking a selfie on the sidewalk in front of a glass building with his Trek Checkpoint.

One bike, every adventure

Julien's Checkpoint has taken him and his gear from his NYC apartment to clients all the way in Connecticut and back, along country roads, urban streets, gravel paths, and everything in-between—but his favorite part about his ride is its ability to spark a conversation.
SEE CHECKPOINT

About the Author: Trek

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