Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Williams.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Ryan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My story is a situation, I’m sure many can relate to. I was working a normal 9-5 corporate job, making good money but hated my job every day. Luckily for me and unlucky for a lot of people, 2008 economy took a huge hit. The company I worked for offered me a severance package if I stayed on long enough to close down the Denver office. During my last few months of employment, I sat down and really figured out what I wanted to do with my future. I was always good with my hands, I always had an entrepreneur mindset. A friend of mine, who worked with me at the same company, was in the same situation.
So we decided to put our severance money together and open a bar/barbershop. The business was a great idea that did really well until city zoning required us to make some very expensive modifications to the building we were in. At that point, we were financially drained and had to close down the business. After closing down the business, I took a step back and realized I was doing it all backward and enrolled myself into hair school to get licensed and learn the business from the ground up.
After finishing school and getting licensed as a barber, I stumbled upon a barbershop accidentally and it was one of the best mistakes I ever made. I had no idea I had walked into one of Denver’s top barbershops. After a quick conversation with the owner, I started my apprenticeship with him at the shop and after a few months into my apprenticeship. I earned a chair cutting full time. I worked with some of the countries best barbers. Denver is lucky, we have one of the largest and most talented groups of barbers in the country, if not internationally. After a couple of years at this shop, I was offered the chance to be a partner in the business. I jumped at the offer, it was a great opportunity for me to learn the ins and outs of running the business behind the scenes as well as expand and open a second location from the ground up.
A few years later, another opportunity was presented to me to help out a friend that I went to hair school with. She was expanding her barbershop and needed help. It was a great opportunity for me to take my next step in the industry and grow more as an entrepreneur. It was a bittersweet situation, the shop I was at was like home and I worked with people I loved and respected, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. With this new shop, I was able to curate a shop with some of my closest friends and best barbers in the industry. We built out a beautiful shop, with one of the most talented crews in Denver.
During my time expanding and growing existing shops, I always had friends/clients asking me, “why don’t you open your own shop.” One of my good friends, Steven Waters (Run for the Roses Bar/Blackeye Coffee), reached out to me about a concept he wanted to put together. He was working on a high-end retail/tattoo/barber boutique. He was already talking with two amazing tattoo artists, Patrick “Fish” King and Jef Kopp. Both well known and respected tattoo artists in the industry. They had already put together a great group of tattoo artists under the name Little Black Church and were looking for the right fit for the barbershop side of the business. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this, so this is where Dark Rose Club grew from.
Has it been a smooth road?
Dark Rose Club and Little Black Church ran into a few hiccups. Denver is a booming city and commercial construction is cut throat. We had a great opportunity with a brand new development in the RINO area of the city, the developers loved the concept, but after a few months, the investors wanted to go a different route with a corporate company with bigger pockets than us. So it was back to square one with finding a location that would work best for the concept. In the meantime, while looking for commercial space, a friend of mine heard about the dilemma.
He didn’t have a space for the entire concept, but a space where we could get the barbershop started. It was in an amazing warehouse at 3458 Walnut St. in the RINO district, tied in with a motorcycle lifestyle publication META. We discussed doing a “pop up” barbershop with the team from META, they were on board from the start. They were looking at doing a big co-working space of like-minded businesses and we fit in. In the meantime, Steven Waters was able to secure an amazing space for the concept at 1444 Market St. in downtown Denver. This gave us a unique opportunity to keep our pop up location with META but also open up the original concept with Little Black Church. We didn’t plan on two locations, but sometimes things don’t work out as planned and turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Dark Rose Club – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Dark Rose Club isn’t your usual barbershop. We wanted to provide a unique customer experience for everyone who sits in our chair for grooming. Understanding the uniqueness of style is our specialty. We provide a wide offering of services to cater to our client’s personal aesthetic; there’s a custom solution for each and every person who schedules an appointment with us. We are committed to keeping our clients fresh and complimenting their style and personal brand.
Outside of the chair, our META location provides an energetic environment to hang out, work remotely if needed or just take a break from your busy day. We have a great co-working/lounge area with retail space and an amazing showcase of custom motorcycles, unlike any other shop. Our Little Black Church location provides the same amazing services as our META location, with the convenience of a walk-in barbershop. Also, with the opportunity of buying some really cool clothing, art and apothecary or even booking a tattoo appointment with some of Denver’s best tattoo artists.
But what really sets us apart is our amazing staff. My business partner Danny Matthews is not only an amazing barber but has extensive experience in hospitality. It’s like having your own personal concierge while getting a haircut. Our manager, Natalie, is the most technically proficient barber I have ever worked with. She not only is extremely detailed oriented with her haircuts but she also genuinely cares about each client that sits in her chair. Our barber Nick Zargoza is an extremely talented, well-rounded barber who works his ass off. He’s the anchor for our walk-in shop at the Little Black Church location. We also have an amazing guest barber, Niki Smalls, who takes appointments two days a month, if you’re lucky to get on her books, you’ll walk out with one of the best haircuts you’ll ever get.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Denver is an amazing city. I grew up here and it’s great to see how much the city has grown. There is an amazing food and beverage scene in Denver. The art scene in the city is huge. The job market is amazing for anyone looking to move here. Our outdoor lifestyle is second to none. It’s no wonder why it’s one of the most rapid-growing metropolitan areas in the country. With that said, I feel the city’s infrastructure is nowhere near of what it needs to be in order to handle the amount of people moving to Denver. The city needs to step that up quickly.
- Address: 4358 Walnut St Denver 80205
1444 Market St Denver 80202
- Website: darkroseclub.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @darkroseclub