In the News!

Sharpening business proves to be savvy move

By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Times Union, Albany, NY, Staff writer
First published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When the shears used by a barber or hair stylist lose their edge, the cutting question arises: Where to get them sharpened?

Enter Paul and Stephanie Naused of Shear Savvy. They are trying to fill the niche of professional shear sharpening. Across the Capital Region, they have some 500 clients whose salons and barber shops they visit with sharpening equipment and a selection of shears and accessories to sell.

Based in Hudson, the husband and wife team have been working full-time together since the beginning of the year. Before that, Paul Naused, 33, worked for about five years building the business while Stephanie Naused, 29, did secretarial work. Sheer Savvy has grown enough that they can work together.

For their clients, the service gives new life to scissors that typically cost $100 to $2,000 a pair. In other words, these shears are not every day implements being used to trim hair, and a stylist has to find and trust an expert sharpener.

“It’s the kind of trade that is a dying art. It’s very difficult to find somebody to do the proper job,” said Gregory Zorian, owner of Gregory’s Barber Shop at 5 Southside Drive in Clifton Park and at Main Square, 318 Delaware Ave., Delmar.

The Nauseds were looking for a business when a friend told Paul Naused about sharpening. He purchased the sharpening equipment, started practicing and invested in his training. He is now rated a master sharpener by the National Shear Sharpeners Guild.

“You have to practice a lot,” Paul Naused said, describing how he would deliberately ruin scissors so he could sharpen the blades so that they would cut cleanly again.

But experience and training didn’t count until the Nauseds could get in the door of a salon. Barriers can be high when a stylist’s favorite scissors were once ruined by an inept sharpener. Building trust is not easy.

“You can ruin a pair of scissors instantly,” said Gloria Bott, owner of Josephoria II — The Hair Salon, on Pawling Avenue in Troy.

Bott overcame her bad experiences to let in the Nauseds.

“I see how when a $500 pair of shears is ruined, they don’t want to go through that again,” Stephanie Naused said.

Paul and Stephanie Naused set up shop within the salon, unfolding the sharpening machine. They also pull out samples of various types of scissors and have catalogs as well. They work as a team. She takes apart the shears and he sets to work honing the edge of the blade on the grinders. The type of blade determines how he approaches the sharpening.

When he’s done, she reassembles the scissors and tests the edge by drawing it across her nail.

“It’s a good way to feel how the blades feel,” she said.

“You can feel what you can’t see,” he added.

The attention to detail adds up to one thing.

“I have 100 percent trust in Paul,” Bott said.

The Nauseds charge $25 to sharpen a pair of shears and adjust their prices based on the numbers of scissors that need to be sharpened.

Art McDonald, owner of Devon Blake at 2025 Broadway, Schenectady, also believes in the couple.

“They did an excellent job. They’re very personable and friendly. You want to do business with them,” McDonald said.

When you’re using top-line implements, Zorian said, said, “You have to be careful who you let sharpen them. They’re very professional.”

The Nauseds’ decision to visit the salons helps. Stylists and barbers don’t like mailing their shears off to be sharpened. It can take weeks before they have them back.

They know the personal touch is important whether it’s sharpening or selling new equipment.

The Nauseds plan to expand their business by offering more than scissors. They’re adding other beauty supply equipment that their customers might want. They’ve recently added a Web site at www.shearsavvy.com

Many clients have asked Paul and Stephanie Naused how they get along. While they don’t have children, their family values are high.

“It works for us,” she said. “We’re in the relationship 24-7. We’re very family oriented.”

Kenneth C. Crowe II can be reached at 581-8438 or by e-mail at kcrowe@timesunion.com.

All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2006, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.

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