You could say there are two secrets to Jason Schneidman’s success: service and saltwater. When he needs a break from the daily grind, he’ll grab his surfboard and head to the beach for a soul cleanse.
“Saltwater is magic. The magic potion,” Schneidman says. “Good for the skin, great for the hair.”
He should know. Not only has Schneidman coiffed the ’dos of “Late Late Show” host James Corden, “X-men” star Hugh Jackman, singer Bruno Mars and actor Jonah Hill, he’s built an entire salon and product line upon the fundamentals of men’s hair care. Aptly named The Mens Groomer, his Lincoln Boulevard headquarters is part barbershop, part coffee shop and part surf/skate shop.
But when he isn’t tailing Corden with a can of hairspray or surfing by the Venice Pier, Schneidman is out giving back. Once a month he donates his sought-after hairstyling services to the homeless in Hollywood, and on special occasions he also provides free haircuts to the homeless near the Venice Boardwalk and the encampments at Third and Rose avenues.
Schneidman’s mission is to help people be seen differently and see themselves differently, which includes offering help to those who are struggling with addiction — just like he was 16 years ago.
A live fast and party hard lifestyle as a club promoter left him in the grip of drug and alcohol abuse until his early thirties. That’s when Schneidman, who turns 50 this month, decided to get serious with his scissors and turn his life around — or put “both feet in the boat,” as he likes to say, quoting some wisdom he picked up while in recovery.
A stint of homelessness, 13 months of rehab, five different hairstyling schools and a turn at the salon of Jennifer Aniston’s hairdresser (Chris McMillan) eventually led the Southern California native to make service an integral part of his life as a father, husband and entrepreneur.
“It’s about helping one person, one haircut at a time. People have gotten jobs. People have gotten auditions. You never know what’s going to change a life,” Schneidman says. “Once I get somebody in my chair, I share my experience and my strength and hope with them. And then I actually use some resources … in order to house and rehab people.”
Schneidman uses proceeds from his haircare products to provide one person who ends up in his chair a bed for one year. Future plans include a monthly post-up of his mobile salon, The Barber Truck, alongside mobile shower trucks and working with the nonprofit Awakening Recovery to help homeless people battling addiction enter a structured one-year recovery program like the one that helped him.
“We are so lucky to be able to touch people — to make people look better, to make people feel better,” he says. “Whether they’re homeless or an actor or my everyday client, it’s all about treating everybody like a celebrity.”
— Christina Campodonico