Ismael Diaz got his start in the hair cutting business at an early age.
As a middle schooler, Diaz said he would give friends haircuts in his front yard. The operation would eventually move to the basement, where a more suitable barbershop chair was set up.
Now the 2002 Bunnell High School graduate owns a new barbershop in downtown Stratford called New Era Barber Lounge, nestled between and .
"I've always wanted to open up a barbershop in Stratford," said Diaz, 27, who opened New Era in September and is the shop's only employee.
Diaz said he's a talkative barber, but not one that will go off topic. The Stratford resident said it's important that a person feels comfortable when he or she gets a haircut.
"I build that friendship with them," he said. "They're more than a client."
New Era is modeled as a lounge, rather than a salon, so customers can feel more at ease, Diaz said. A big-screen TV sits in front of a comfy couch. And sports memorabilia, hats and jerseys are tacked on the wall throughout New Era.
As far as business goes, Diaz said it's "gone good" and it's "starting to pick up."
"I get the lunch people," he said. "I stay late to catch the people coming off the train."
After 3 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are when Diaz is the busiest, he said. Diaz works six days a week but said he doesn't mind the hours because he enjoys talking to people and being his own boss.
Future plans for the 2406 Main St. barber lounge include hiring help and selling hair products.
Diaz said he is confident his business will succeed because his prices are comparable to competitors and for the simple fact that "people always need haircuts."
New Era Barber Lounge is open Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Diaz can be reached at 203.736.7261 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.