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How an Austin Barbershop Built Its Brand

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This story appears in the April 2012 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Michael Portman has heard his salon customers share information with their hairdressers that they wouldn't confide in anyone else. As he says, it's a business built on trust. After all, how many deals compel the service provider to wield a sharp pair of scissors to your scalp or neck?

Today, six years after he and childhood pal Jayson Rapaport opened the first of five Birds Barbershops in Austin, Texas, Portman is especially pleased when a customer comes in for a haircut in advance of a job interview. "That's a pretty trusting moment there," Portman says.

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