Infectious, in the best way possible. Without being there, it’s the only way to describe the expertise, camaraderie, and laughter found inside The Barbershop by Francois in Poughkeepsie. Owner Francois Fowx, along with wife Jennifer Martini, opened the barbershop on IBM Road in January of 2016.
Fowx left his job at a nearby barbershop with the desire to do things his way. “It got to the point where I’d dread going into work because you never knew how the boss was going to be. The support we’ve received for the new shop has been unbelievable. Truly, the community has been supportive to the point where I’m beside myself,” said Fowx.
Despite Fowx’s shock, there is no doubt he has the skills to back up all of the accolades. Frankly, the barbering trade is in his blood. Fowx’s grandfather, Frank Polito, was a well-known Dutchess County barber. Wielding his shears well, Polito was requested by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to come to Hyde Park and give the commander-in-chief a hair cut. Polito followed through, making his way to the Roosevelt residence, only to have everything in his car (except the seats) removed and searched. Polito did not find this process particularly fun, and only provided Roosevelt with one more trim.
Fowx retells the story, remembering his grandfather and laughing. He chose not to continue on as the presidential barber because he didn’t want to deal with the “hassle” of having his car strip searched each time. But for Fowx “it was and is a great story for his children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren.”
Polito’s only son decided against a career as a barber, so when Fowx decided to attend barber school, his grandfather couldn’t have been more proud. “Grandpa knew I was never really into school, I was more of hands-on person. He always told me, that as a barber ‘you can go to work with an empty pocket and leave with a good day’s pay.’ He really put everything into perspective for me. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have any of this,” said Fowx.
And even though he’s yet to cut presidential hair, Fowx’s success as both barber and entrepreneur are undeniable. He knew opening up in Poughkeepsie was a must. “My roots are here. I was born at Vassar, I attended Wappingers schools. My family lives here, all of my friends live here. And now, after 20 years, my clientele lives here.” His clientele has and is growing, from family to friends, old and new, and those of all ages. Even generations, grandpas to grandsons, come in together for cuts.
Fowx’s fellow barbers, John Jose and Kara Kraemer, knew The Barbershop by Francois was the place to take their careers. And Fowx understood he needed them to take the shop to the next level.
“I’ve known John since he was 15. He has been cutting hair for close to 10 years. Kara has been here since day one. Now my own brother doesn’t even sit in my chair, he’ll wait for Kara! I wanted barbers working here who I didn’t have to worry if my customers sat in their chairs. I want them to know that any chair they sit in, they will get just as good of a cut as when they’re with me,” said Fowx.
Both Jose and Kraemer are inspired by Fowx’s commitment to each and every customer, even the most unruly clientele. “The kids can come in screaming their head off but as soon as they sit in his chair, they’re all good,” said Kraemer. Fowx’s philosophy is simple. “If it was my kid sitting in the chair, I would want the guy to treat him with the same amount of patience and respect.”
With a passion for the trade that is almost as contagious as his laugh, Fowx has made a name for himself within the community, loving the way the shop not only has become a local hangout, but a way for him to give back to the area. Fowx raises money for Sparrow’s Nest, a local charity that aids families with loved ones battling cancer by selling t-shirts in the shop.
His only regret? Not opening sooner. “I waited because I was set in a certain routine. I opened the business when I was 39. If you are younger and have the resources, jump on it because it’s worth it. You don’t want to sit there and have the ‘what ifs’,” said Fowx.
No ifs, ands, or buts, The Barbershop by Francois will take care of you; whether your office is shaped like an oval or if you’re just a kid trying to make it through your first cut, everyone gets the same great service and is a part of the family.
The Barbershop by Francois is open Monday through Saturday, with haircuts starting at $15. Fowx and his crew also offer hot towels and shaves, shampoos, men’s facials, stylings, and designs. No appointments are needed, walk-ins are more than welcome.
The Barbershop by Francois
10 IBM Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601