Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids is a successful childrens’ salon franchise. With over 70 locations in the US and overseas (61 more in development), they’ve revolutionized haircutting.
Kids sit in fun toy cars, watching cartoons or playing Xbox or Playstation on huge screens. There’s a private “Tween Lounge” too.
These days salons across the country are closed. But Sharkey’s is making a move that not only helps its business, but addresses a crucial issue: a nationwide shortage of hand sanitizer.
And they’re doing it right here, from their Westport headquarters.
When Sharkey’s manufacturer of branded shampoos and lice products asked Scott Sharkey if he’d like to supply hand sanitizer to customers, the CEO was intrigued.
The manufacturer has been awarded contracts for a number of state governments and facilities. With 80% alcohol content, it far exceeds the quality of most products on shelves today. It’s manufactured in spray form, so it can also be used on grocery carts, door handles, automobile interiors, and to make alcohol wipes.
Sharkey’s charges below market price for an 80% alcohol-based product. It’s available to everyone on the company’s website, and usually ships within 24 hours. The sanitizer is also available for resale to supermarkets and businesses.
For Sharkey, distributing hand sanitizer is personal. Westport was one of the early hot spots for COVID-19. He’s seen the havoc it can cause.
In fact, he’s donating plenty of sanitizer to the Senior Center.
Sharkey hopes his 75 franchisees will help promote the sanitizer. They may not be cutting kids’ hair today — but they’ll be doing their part to help the country through the current crisis, for tomorrow.
But there’s a lot more to the story than just cutting and styling.
And it’s got an important Westport connection.
Talpiot Village serves 1,000 at-risk children and families in the Hadera region. There’s foster care, daycare, a therapy center, a zoo with animal petting, sports facilities and a synagogue. Programs include homework assistance, choir, dancing, photography and drama.
Talpiot Village gives at-risk kids a reason to smile.
Now there’s a Sharkey’s Children’s Hair Cutting Vocational School too. The innovative space offers special activities for parents and children; recreational and creative arts programs; birthday parties, and joint activities with the community.
The salon is the brainchild of Scott Sharkey, founder and owner of the franchise operation Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids. It’s headquartered in Westport, and there’s a thriving Post Road location here too.
Sharkey learned about Talpiot in 2008, on a trip with Chabad to help dedicate a playground donated by Westport’s Kaner family. He was so moved by the children’s stories that he decided to do something to help.
He had no idea what. But he kept in contact with the director of Talpiot Village. Together they came up with an idea: Sharkey’s would donate a children’s hair-cutting vocational school.
It would be an exact duplicate of a Sharkey’s kids’ salon. But this would have no sales. It would exist as a vocational school — to teach teenagers a trade.
Sharkey devised a fundraiser — the first he’d ever done — hoping for $150,000. Two months later, the stock market crashed.
So did Sharkey’s dream of helping the children of Talpiot.
Eight years later — in May of 2016 — his daughter Julia visited some Westport friends studying in Tel Aviv. Sharkey met her there.
The first stop was Talpiot Village. He wanted her to experience the same emotions he felt, 8 years earlier.
He and the director talked about rebooting the project.
Two years later, it’s now a reality.
Scott and Julia Sharkey with Talpiot Village director Simona Kedmi, at the vocational school’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony came almost 10 years to the day from Sharkey’s first visit. He was there with his father-in-law, and Chabad members who had been there on his first trip.
The Sharkey’s vocational school is already training youngsters to become cosmetologists. The director proudly adds, “It’s the best-looking salon in the region.”
Sharkey encourages his franchisees to donate a percentage of each cut to charity. Kids get tokens, then choose their favorite charity from an ever-changing list like the Humane Society, Make-a-Wish Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
By donating an entire salon, he’s set the bar high. Scott Sharkey is clearly a cut above the rest.
Posted onFebruary 26, 2016|Comments Off on Sharkey’s Puts Kids, Franchisees In The Driver’s Seat
Quick: Westport is world headquarters for which companies, in these 3 fields: heavy construction equipment, hedge funds, and kids’ haircuts?
That’s easy! Terex, Bridgewater and, um, well, I mean…
Many Westporters – especially those with boys and girls looking for a wash, cut and blow-dry, plus fun chairs, toy cars, game stations with Xbox and PlayStation, balloons and lollipops – know (and love) Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids.
But plenty of grateful moms have no idea it’s a flagship Sharkey’s. More than 40 others are franchised worldwide.
Owners travel great distances to our Post Road salon, to learn everything they need to successfully emulate this one.
Sharkey’s is the brainchild – and namesake – of Scott Sharkey. A Long Island native who moved to New York, his first career was in the family business: bar code printing.
Scott Sharkey, in his Westport salon.
When the company was sold, he and his wife Linda moved to Greenwich. As they wondered what to do next, she thought about her son Jack’s kids’ hair salon in New York. It was always packed.
They convened a few focus groups. Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids was born.
The 1st one was located in Greenwich. The 2nd — in 2003 — opened in Westport’s Home Goods plaza, near the Southport line.
Two years later, a Pennsylvania man asked for a franchise. Sharkey invited the potential franchisee up — and the concept took off.
In 2006, the Sharkeys moved to Westport. They sold more franchises. In addition to the 40-plus in the US, another 32 are in various stages of development. Sales are up 32% over last year — and growing.
People notice. Last month, Entrepreneur Magazine named Sharkey’s to its Top 500 Franchises list. It’s the only kids’ salon there.
It’s also the only one Scott and Linda own. That makes it, he says, “the most important of all.”
Sharkey’s Westport salon is a prototype for the franchise: a kids’ paradise.
It’s where they test concepts like new software, or selling shampoos and other hair care products.
It’s also where they introduce potential franchisees to ideas like donating a percentage of each cut to charity. (Kids get tokens, then choose their favorite charity from an ever-changing list like the Humane Society, Make-a-Wish Foundation and St. Jude Children’s Hospital.)
Folks with serious interests in franchising spend a day observing the Westport operation. They stay across the street, at the Westport Inn.
If they like what they see (and sign a contract), they come back for 4 days of training in how to run a salon the “Sharkey’s way.”
By their 2nd day, they work the front desk. If they’re lucky, they’ll see a kids’ party in action.
Franchisees learn how important it is to hire staff who have their own kids. And to pay them more than the industry average.
The Sharkey’s staff loves kids. And the kids love little touches, like the cars they sit in.
“We’re in the ‘mom business,'” Sharkey says. “We don’t hire right out of cosmetology school. It’s easy for young people to say ‘I love kids’ — but when they really see them, and try to cut their hair….” He shakes his head.
“We want people who are more nurturing.”
The reaction of franchisees, Sharkey says, is often “Wow! There’s so much going on you can’t see in a video.” (They also see the salon’s ubiquitous “sharks.” Get it?)
From its Westport headquarters, Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids has a worldwide presence. But every so often, Sharkey is reminded the world is still a very small place.
The other day, a couple who are new franchisees flew in from Tuscany. Sharkey took them to Tarry Lodge for dinner.
The wine list included a bottle from their home town.
Sharkey used it to toast their upcoming success.
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