Local barber is cut out for the trade
Eric Foncault sank down in the chair in a barbershop in Reno, Nev., and he felt the razor whisk away the warm shaving cream on his neck. Like that, he fell in love with the art of barbering and his life was changed.
"Every time I went to the barbershop I enjoyed being there," he said. "I was looking at the work my barber was doing and it seemed like a pretty chill gig."
A few years after that first experience at a gentleman-style barbershop, Foncault is dedicating his life to replicating it for others. He recently became the barber at Lit Salon, 2730 W. Rasmussen Road, where he wants to inject some classic Americana into Park City.
While he works at a salon, the barbershop section has been designed with an atmosphere that imitates barbershops of old, which were places men gathered for good conversation and relaxation in addition to haircuts.
"I’m just trying to bring back the classic barbershop feel where you build a rapport with your barber," Foncault said. "It’s not just somewhere you’re going to get a service — you’re going to see a friend to get your haircut.
"Our country has changed a lot over the last 10 or 20 years. There’s kind of a disconnect between people and their country and things just don’t feel the same. When guys come to my barbershop, I want it to have that old-school, authentic feel where they feel like part of their community."
Foncault said he is capitalizing on a trend that has seen men start to care more about their appearance. Classic haircuts last seen in the middle of the 20th century, such as the side part and pompadour, have seen a resurgence. And to get those styles of haircuts, many men are spurning national haircutting franchises and returning to barbershops.
"It’s hugely important, I think," Foncault said of men returning to barbershops. "When you go (to a franchise), you can’t request a certain stylist or barber when you go there. It’s kind of like going to a Jiffy Lube for your car. It’s impersonal."
While Foncault now has dedicated his life to barbering, it took him several years to get involved in the industry. After a few years of bouncing around blue-collar jobs following 10 years in the Navy, he started to pursue barbering as a full-time passion last year. He left Reno to go to barber school in Salt Lake City, a move that eventually led him to Park City.
"Life circumstances kind of pushed me into making the decision to follow through with this," he said. "After not really having a job for three years and getting by, moving to a new area to start a career wasn’t quite as daunting. It was a little scary, but I’m definitely glad that I made the decision."
He quickly discovered in school that he is cut out for the trade.
"I like to make things look good — I’m slightly OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)," Foncault said. "Like if I walk into a room and it doesn’t look right or a picture is hanging crooked, it needs to be aesthetically correct for me. I figured those attributes would carry over well into being a barber."
However, there also have been challenges. A large part of Foncault’s job — particularly since he’s just starting out in the industry — is to market himself. And that has pushed him outside his comfort zone.
"Before I went to barber school, I never even had a Facebook account," Foncault said. "I was kind of anti-social media for some reason. I felt like I was too old. So I’ve got my first Facebook account and Instagram account. I’m up for the challenge."
For Foncault, it’s all worth it. Because even more than the art of cutting hair, the relationships he builds with clients motivates him. He hopes they become friends who will return to him for years.
"I like meeting people from different walks of life, who otherwise I would have never ran into," he said. "In day-to-day life, I wouldn’t get the opportunity to pick their brains. I get to learn a little about what’s going on. It’s like back in the day, when the barbershop was the hub of the city."
11 Hauz, which opened last summer, serves traditional Jamaican food such as jerk chicken and shrimp, beef patties and fried plantains.