Lucas Vespi, owner and master barber, gives Nickolas Feasel a trim at the Rock City Barbershop on Main Street.
by Dave Warner
At twenty years old, Little Falls native Lucas Vespi is defying the odds, taking a chance on the City, and opening up his own business.
The graduate of Little Falls High School spent time going to school, playing sports and all of the normal things kids do. But, he had something he was really interested in…being a barber.
“I was always interested in barbering. I liked getting my haircut,” he said.
When he was in 10th grade, he was in a wedding and the groom had a barber come to the hotel room and professionally cut all of their hair. “That was kind of what kicked it all off for me,” said Vespi.
When getting ready to leave high school, he had listened to what everyone wanted and was going to take the path that they wanted – go to college, get a degree, get a job.
“I always wanted to be here, though. I love Little Falls.”
However, he went off to college to start the traditional path. “I didn’t really like it and it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to be stuck in a cubicle every day,” Vespi said.
Vespi had entered school looking to get a degree in Environmental Engineering. He said “They pitched it like I would be outside all the time doing things, but that wasn’t the case.”
He started thinking about barbering and how that would be very different. “It took me awhile to realize that I was going to go against what people told me I had to do,” he said.
Vespi went to barber’s school in Schenectady and then worked in Albany honing his craft at two different shops that had very different styles.
“I learned a lot from them and thought that I could do this on my own back home, where there is a need for it” said Vespi.
He felt like the older barbers had not kept up with the times and what the younger generation had wanted when it comes to haircuts.
“It’s just like a haircut from back in the day – like old military barbers. Now it’s skin fades, different designs, and more like high tech partings and sectioning patterns,” stated Vespi.
“You need to get hair to move and do what you want, and that’s something that’s not being done around here.”
Vespi felt that if he brought that kind of styling to Little Falls, that he could create a barber shop that people would want to go to. Not just for a haircut, but for the camaraderie and social aspects as well.
“Kinda like a place to hang out and talk and do stuff,” he said.
Vespi doesn’t think that it’s just for his generation either. “You have people going to Stewarts and sitting there all day long, but not many other places. They sit there and that’s where they talk. If you had more places like that, it might be pretty nice.”
Nickolas Feasel is an example of that. He works nights, and comes in during the day to just hang out, meet friends, work on his laptop and socialize. “It’s a great place to come in and get a haircut, but you can also just come in and relax if you have nothing else to do,” said Vespi.
Vespi says that trades are looked at as some kind of easy way out, but he says “In all honestly, it’s the hardest way out. You go to college and a lot of college degrees are easy. You go, you do your homework, study a little bit, get D’s and C’s and get a college degree and get a job.”
“People are telling me that I’m 20 years old and I already have my own business and they feel like I have a different outlook on life than a lot of other kids do,” he said.
“I feel honored to have that because I thought that dropping out of college, people would look down on me. To hear that people think that I’m different because I started this business is pretty cool,” Vespi stated.
He didn’t know what his first couple of weeks would be like. Would he have any clients at all? “I’ve had people from Ilion, Dolgeville, Mohawk and even Salisbury come down and for a first week, I was amazed,” he said.
“People leaving happy – that was the most important thing because I can do ten haircuts a day for the first month or two, but if they don’t come back, you’re not going to be successful.”
Vespi thinks the goal is to make them happy, keep them happy, and they’ll keep coming back.
“Five years from now, I’ll only be 25 and I’ll be working as hard as ever. I’ve got a lot of life to live,” Vespi said. “I think I can work hard enough to make it happen and be successful.”
“I think kids that are in high school should stop worrying so much about what they should do and what they want to do. I did a lot of what I thought I should do and at the end of the day, I did what I wanted to do and it made me a lot happier than what I would have been had I done what I thought I should do,” stated Vespi.
“It’s not always about the money.”
You can find out more about the Rock City Barbershop by visiting their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rock-City-Barbershop-584705638623544/ or by calling 315-556-1033.