In the river city of Florence, Alabama there has long been an air of renaissance. A small Southern town, Florence and neighboring Muscle Shoals have been the unlikely channel through which a rich musical revival rushed across the region in the late 1960’s and 70’s, bringing with it a revived spirit of creative ingenuity. That certain magic wading in on the bank of its Tennessee River waters once attracted the young Rolling Stones, captured the vibrato of Aretha Franklin, and fueled the rise of Motown. But more than the music, Florence has seen entrepreneurs of all kinds. It’s waters beckoned fashion pioneers Billy Reid and native Alabama Chanin to call it their own, and is now at work once again, casting out its net of possibility to those who might be caught.
Willing captors of its lure, Florence born brothers Austin and Reese Shirey have returned to their hometown after years spent away to partner with this quiet renaissance. With a tenacious love for home, and a heart to offer it their best, the two have combined their skills to usher in a new level of quality in the everyday, raising standards (and a few eyebrows) around town. ln a place where you can still “have your ears lowered,” Austin’s Greasy Hands brings a dimension and flair to the small town barbershop. Likewise, Reese’s adjoined specialty coffee bar, Turbo, serves a refined espresso menu over a buffet of brews and artificial flavors. Between the two, the Shirey’s are creating a new demand for their respective craft that they’re eager to fill. But first – New York.
Just after graduating with an advertising degree, Austin Shirey relocated from Alabama to New York City to climb the corporate ladder. Being in New York and making it big was the plan, but it wasn’t long before the advertising rat race lost its glow. In his spare time away from work, he retreated to the relaxed atmosphere and intrigue of barber shops around the city, places like the Blind Barber in the East Village. “I started to think about what I really like to do and where I liked spending my time, and it all came back to the barbershop.” It was a moment he faced himself – as we all must – and asked, “What am I really made for?” So, after two years at Esquire Magazine, Austin left for a new journey: ten weeks of barber school and a part-time gig at Brooklyn-based barbershop, Persons of Interest. He had caught a glimpse of his purpose there, and had to find out more. With a new sense of direction, each step gave that outline greater definition. After completing his intensive ten week training, he joined the Blind Barber in Brooklyn full-time – and started getting his hands greasy.