- August 26, 2021
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Jetmir Jani, left. and Gerti Kercishta recently opened Retro Barbershop in Great Kills.(Courtesy of Retro Barbershop)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Jetmir Jani, 32, an Albanian who was born and raised in North Macedonia, grew up watching his grandfather cut hair.
Eager to be like his grandfather, Dilaver Jani, he became a barber’s apprentice as a youngster.
“I started working at a very young age, since the summer after I finished fifth grade. That’s when I went to help my family and worked with my grandfather, and aunt and uncle in their shop,” said Jani.
Jani and Kercishta opened the new barbershop this past spring. (Courtesy of Retro Barbershop)
“They taught me everything I know — from technique to working with people. Also, I have another uncle who is also a barber; he worked in the Staten Island Mall for 25 years. So you could say that cutting hair runs in my blood,” he added.
Once Jani finished high school, he started working as a barber full-time.
“It’s excellent, honest, hard work, and I get to meet so many different people and make new friendships with my regular customers,” he said.
Retro Barbershop is located at 3937 Amboy Rd.(Courtesy of Retro Barbershop)
But he said that being a barber wasn’t enough, adding he wanted to also start a family of his own.
“When I was 23 years old, I met my wife, Elma Limani. She lived in Italy with her family, and she took me there, where we lived together from 2012 to 2014,” said Jani, who now has a daughter, Leandra, born in May.
Jani with his wife, Elma Limani. (Courtesy of Retro Barbershop)
COMING TO AMERICA
But he said he always dreamed of coming to America. While Jani had found his true love and a career for which he was passionate, he also needed to make his life complete by making his dream a reality.
“It was always my dream to come to America to work hard, open my own business, create a family and build a happy, stable life.. …I always dreamed of the classic American dream of a better, fuller life…so my uncle helped me come over in November of 2014. And, shortly after, I found a job at Fusion Barbershop in Dongan Hills, where I worked until March of this year,” said Jani, who settled in Great Kills.
For a vintage look, Jani invested in materials to create solid red brick walls and custom chairs in a traditional barbershop red, with brass details. (Courtesy of Retro Barbershop)
“My grandfather always inspired me to be the best barber, work hard, be honest, and always respect my customer. He always told me to be humble, smile, always be on time, keep the shop clean, and listen to my customers,” he added.
So Jani put this advice into action when he teamed up with Gerti Kercishta, 29, who has a decade worth of experience as a barber, and decided to open a new barber shop in Great Kills in spring 2021. And as a tribute to his family, he decided to furnish and decorate it in “retro style.”
Hence, the shop is called Retro Barbershop.
“My grandfather’s goal has been for our family to become the best barbers and hairstylists, and he has worked very hard always to deliver the best quality work and respect for clients. … I was inspired to decorate the shop in a retro style that reminds me of when I worked with my grandfather,” said Jani.
“Although it extended my budget, it was worth it to create the environment that I envisioned in my head. I spend so much time here, I wanted the shop to feel familiar and comfortable for me, my growing team, and of course, my clients,” said Jani. (Courtesy of Retro Barbershop)
For a vintage look, Jani and Kercishta invested in materials to create solid red brick walls and custom chairs in traditional barbershop red with brass details.
“Although it extended my budget, it was worth it to create the environment that I envisioned in my head. I spend so much time here, I wanted the shop to feel familiar and comfortable for me, my growing team, and of course, my clients,” said Jani.
“At Retro, we offer any style of haircut for men and boys, as well as shaving,” he said noting he offers discounts for first-time customers and senior citizens," said Jani. (Courtesy of Retro Barbershop)
In addition to the decor, Retro offers the transitional-style barber shop services.
“At Retro, we offer any style of haircut for men and boys, as well as shaving,” he said noting he offers discounts for first-time customers and senior citizens.
“Since we deal with the public and diverse people and personalities, patience and understanding are crucial to being a barber,” said Jani. “The customer is always right, so you have to be willing to work hard and long hours on your feet — all while listening and smiling. Like my grandfather said, stay humble; honest, hard work is good for the soul.”
RETRO BARBERSHOP AT A GLANCE
Address: 3937 Amboy Rd.
New Businesses in Focus is a weekly column that relates the stories of new Staten Island businesses owners.
If you have a new business on Staten Island, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tracey Porpora is the business writer and Sunday manager for SiLive.com/Staten Island Advance.
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