Jason Schneidman styles James Corden and Jonah Hill. And dozens of homeless people
Once a month, a stretch of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood comes alive with people seeking a fresh start — and a fresh cut. They come from the streets of Los Angeles looking for stylists and groomers who provide free haircuts, trims and shaves at the Will & Ariel Durant branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.
And there, at the center of it all, is Jason Schneidman (a.k.a. the Men’s Groomer to about 84,000 Instagram followers and others). He’s a Southern California native and hairstylist to some of the biggest names in entertainment, including late-night (and perennial awards show) host James Corden, Academy Award winner Mark Ronson and actors Jonah Hill and Billy Eichner.
Schneidman, 49, has an affinity for and general ease with the people he often meets at these library grooming sessions. The reason for his casual, approachable demeanor? He understands what some of them are going through. After all, Schneidman, who has been sober for 16 years, struggled with drug addiction.
Raised in Seal Beach and a child of the SoCal sand and surf culture, Schneidman spent his days in the water and his nights running around in L.A.'s infamous music scene. His positive personality landed him a regular gig as a promoter for shows, and he eventually became tempted by drugs and alcohol.
Today, Schneidman is in a different chapter of his journey. His daily life revolves around work, his wife, hairstylist Kelsie Gigandet, and their two children as well as motorcycles and cars.
“Honestly, man, all I want to do these days is surf and serve,” Schneidman said.
The path to his present-day life started about 15 years ago when, after about four years of fits and starts, he made the acquaintance of celebrity hairstylist Chris McMillan at a meeting for people in recovery.
“I’d heard from someone that Chris was the ‘it’ guy when it came to hairstyling,” Schneidman said. “It also didn’t hurt that he was the guy who did [and still does] Jennifer Aniston’s much-chronicled hair. So I approached him and said, ‘Hey, I heard you’re the man!’”
What started as a commitment by McMillan for a chair in his salon one day a week eventually led to a full-week schedule and soon a burgeoning client list. Editorial work in magazines such as GQ, Glamour and L’Uomo Vogue followed, as did work on press junkets for films and television projects. One of those assignments led him to the home of a British comedian who was just beginning to make his mark on this side of the pond.
“I get sent to this house to groom someone I really didn’t know much about,” Schneidman said. “When I arrive, I ring the buzzer at the gate, and this booming English voice comes from the house, not the call box.”
It was Corden, who was standing on a balcony in little more than a towel. Not knowing Schneidman yet, the comedian and talk show host simply yelled, “Come on up.” What was scheduled as a one-off grooming session that day has evolved into a true partnership and friendship, with Schneidman now traveling the world with Corden on work-related projects.
“What you realize when you spend enough time with Jason is that to each of his clients he represents a different thing,” Corden said. “It’s so much more than just grooming. He offers me a sanctuary on many days, a place where he allows me to forget about the hectic nature of doing a daily show. In a single smile, he can evaporate the stresses and strains that felt overwhelming just a moment ago.”
At work, Schneidman is part guru, therapist and cheerleader to those in his orbit. His warm smile is something clients can see at his Venice salon, the Men’s Groomer Shop, on Lincoln Boulevard, which is staffed with barbers and hairstylists.
Having opened last year, the light and airy salon has six chairs, 12 employees and walls lined with art, surfboards and private-label products called Paste and Pomade, along with branded hairbrushes and picks. Products range from $10 to $65 and are available online and on amazon.com.
In late February, two new products, Shampoo and Conditioner ($16 each), will be introduced, with a portion of sales donated to the Men’s Groomer Foundation, which works to get people off the streets, into recovery and back on their feet.
As for Schneidman’s future, his endeavors include his ongoing homeless outreach, such as the weekly takeover of a mobile salon called the Barber Truck. The truck will travel around L.A. along with a Lava Mae shower vehicle to offer homeless people a full-service experience.
There’s also his partnership in development with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office to focus on the city’s homeless crisis.
In addition to his work with homeless people, Scheidman has teamed up with a designer on a branded clothing line. There are beachy, laid-back Venice-style T-shirts ($30) and casual drawstring pants ($150). Schneidman said he wants to expand the line with jewelry, shoes, hats and jackets.
As for the Men’s Groomer’s other work, he still plans to continue to make people look and feel good about themselves.
“He takes great pride in what he does, and it all comes from a place of good with Jason,” Corden said. “I feel blessed that he’s in my life every day, and my hair has never looked better.”
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