Old-school barbering with new-school techniques — that’s how Legends Barber Shop co-owners David Martinez and Justin Borton describe their southside Indy establishment. On October 28 of last year they welcomed their first customers on South Meridian Street, and have been growing ever since.
With open ductwork overhead and plenty of lighting throughout, Legends features 1,600 square feet of old-fashioned barbershop décor. Twelve booths line the walls, adding to the old-school aesthetic and encouraging conversations among clients and barbers about sports, families and the community.
“We put a lot into this shop,” Martinez says. “It’s top-notch in every fashion. That’s what we wanted. We wanted a top-notch shop with top-notch haircuts.”
With 30 years of combined barber experience, Martinez and Borton spent eight years working side by side for another local barber, learning behind the scenes and figuring out what it takes to run a barbershop. It wasn’t long until they felt a desire to open their own location. They took the leap in August of 2019, and watched their shop come to life over the next three months.
“It took a leap of faith from us and our wives,” Martinez jokes.
Martinez is the first to tell you that his love for cutting hair started out of necessity, and before long he had a consistent clientele of friends and family. After some encouragement from his wife (then girlfriend) to attend barber school, Martinez realized he had a knack for cutting hair and enjoyed it. He now gets to share his passion with Borton and the rest of Legends’ eight-man staff.
To Borton and Martinez, surrounding themselves with the right group of employees at the shop is just as important as the ability to cut hair. The current staff ranges in age from 22 to 45, and Martinez says he and Borton look for barbers that have goals, families to support, and other passions outside of cutting hair.
“We have a good group of guys,” Martinez says. “There are eight of us that work. That’s really what we wanted to base the shop off of. You’re only going to be as good as the guys you work with. We wanted a good nucleus of barbers.”
Both Martinez and Borton feel that creating a team atmosphere in the shop is important. Martinez says the duo prefers to talk about their staff as co-workers rather than employees, making sure they want to come to work and that everyone operates with a team mentality.
While they encourage walk-ins at the shop, Martinez and Borton’s success thus far has come mainly from word-of-mouth referrals, as well as long-time barber colleagues coming to work at Legends.
“We had a big following before we got over here,” Martinez says. “There are some guys who had quit barbering and they came back, and now their clients are starting to find them again. Typically you develop a relationship with a guy. They know you and you know them.”
The Legends staff is familiar with several old-school barbering techniques like hot lathering, hot towels and straight-razor shaves, and these skills have come in handy for special requests from many Legends clients. While many of these skills are taught in school, certain techniques are learned on the job according to Borton.
Nevertheless, Legends remains appealing for those who don’t have a special request like a highly stylized haircut or a straight-razor shave – largely for its family-friendly atmosphere, customer service and lively characters. The shop offers haircuts for the whole family, beard trims, shaves and more. Martinez and Borton want their customers to feel like they can come in, be well taken care of, and not have to worry about anything else.
“We put a lot into (the shop),” Borton says. “We expected (community support), but I don’t think we expected it this much. We’re super happy with how it’s going.”
Legends Barber Shop is located at 8923 South Meridian Street in Indianapolis. Call 317-361-4018 and visit legendsbarbershopllc.com for more information.