Industry Leaders Join Forces Through Sortis Holdings to Elevate, Empower, and Expand the Barbering Workforce
Fellow Barber, a New York-born chain of elevated barbershops, today announced an agreement with Sortis Holdings, Inc. (OTC: SOHI) (“Sortis”) that will merge the grooming company with Seattle’s iconic Rudy’s Barbershop (“Rudy’s”). This merger will elevate the barbering industry and empower its combined workforce. It also aligns Fellow Barber with original lifestyle brands with purpose and impact. The Sortis team is building a platform that enables sustainable growth, cultural equity, and scalable innovations for brands with things to say. The goal is to unite consumer brands with a strong point-of-view and unique brand identities, a passionate customer base and a deep commitment to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG).
With the market for upscale men’s grooming growing across the country, the merger with Rudy’s is a natural fit. Behind Rudy’s is Sortis Holdings, a Portland, Oregon-based platform company enabling highly scalable, experiential lifestyle brands to accelerate growth and impact. Sortis acquired Rudy’s out of bankruptcy in 2020, bringing back the brands co-founders to return the DNA that makes the Rudy’s experience so unique. Despite being forced to close its doors during the onset of COVID-19, Fellow Barber prevailed and both brands are now uniquely positioned for growth as they remain largely unaffected by the residual effects of the pandemic such as supply chain delays, inflation, and employee retention.
“Rudy’s Barbershops has always been an inspiration to me,” said Sam Buffa, CEO & Founder of Fellow Barber. “We recently had an opportunity to purchase a few of the former Rudy’s locations in LA, which was a dream. Now, we will be able to operate side-by-side for a common goal – bettering the industry for our skilled barbers and spreading the barbershop culture to even more excited clientele, especially as the men’s grooming market continues to grow rapidly.”
As part of the merger, Buffa will lead both Fellow Barber and Rudy’s Barbershops. His 15-plus years of experience in the industry has been spent finding solutions to better the barbering industry and bring back the esteem it once held by way of a barber-first approach. Those experiences position him well to partner with Ryan Suddendorf, who will become the VP and COO of Barbershops, to guide both brands through their next stage of growth.
“This merger was a natural fit for two iconic brands,” said Paul Brenneke, Executive Chairman of Sortis. “The opportunity for growth in this industry will be driven by these brands’ consumer and barber-first approach. We are well positioned to leverage capabilities, specifically digital, to expand consumer reach and bring new barbers into the industry.”
“When Alex, David, and I founded Rudy’s, we worked to build an inclusive space that focused on connection, care and community,” said co-founder Wade Weigel. “That simple mission is at the core of barbershops, and we’ve long admired Fellow Barber for taking this charge to heart. We’re excited to build on these shared values as we continue to grow under a united sense of purpose.”
While Fellow Barber and Rudy’s will continue operating as separate brands, the merger provides a common infrastructure that provides access to capital, real estate strategy expertise, creative and operational talent, and cutting-edge digital capabilities. Education is also a primary focus for Fellow Barber and Rudy’s, which plans to expand its existing apprenticeship program with the launch of a barbering academy that brings hands-on education to licensed, professional stylists and barbers from all over the country.
Both Fellow Barber and Rudy’s will continue to explore expansion opportunities in their respective regions with Fellow opening three new locations in New York City this year, which includes their recently opened flagship in Hudson Yards. Similarly, after the recent opening of their Downtown Beaverton, OR location in June, Rudy’s also is set to launch two additional locations in 2022 and early 2023 in Totem Lake, WA and Cedar Hills Crossing in Oregon.
About Fellow Barber
Founded by Sam Buffa and William Tigertt in 2006, Fellow Barber is committed to elevating the craft of barbering. Often credited for the revival of the time-honored barbershop traditions, Fellow Barber’s expertly trained barbers provide classic cuts and straight razor shaves to a discerning clientele who seek a hassle-free, yet high-quality experience without the pretensions of a salon. By leading the barbershop renaissance, Fellow Barber has spawned a new barbering subculture, raised the overall barbering wage nationwide, and created new jobs.
Since opening its first shop in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Fellow Barber has independently expanded to 11 locations throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and San Francisco – all of which have a unique aesthetic inspired by the diversity of the neighborhood and clientele. The brand also developed its own line of expertly crafted, professional quality grooming products, which is carried in select barbershops and retailers, and online at FellowBarber.com, SAKS.com, Amazon.com, and Nordstrom.com.
About Rudy’s Barbershops
Since its founding in 1993, Rudy’s Barbershop has been the authority on effortless style, combining self-care with culture. They pioneered the modern barbershop movement and redefined a new generation of beauty and grooming, starting with one location in the grungy heart of Seattle and expanding down to PDX, NYC, ATL and PHX. Rudy’s now operates 31 locations in five states and has a line of grooming products sold at Rudy’s, online and through select retailers nationwide.
About Sortis Holdings, Inc.
Sortis Holdings, Inc. (OTC: SOHI) is a collection of brands that combine creative vision with business acumen. Sortis intends to power its brands across hotel & lodging, coffee, food & beverage, and beauty & wellness to drive culture forward, uniting purpose and profit to thoughtfully scale its companies and offer exceptional experiences to its customers. To learn more about Sortis, please visit sortisholdings.com.