Katie and Brandon Ferguson sold everything they had to travel in Central and South America for most of 2012, keeping open the possibility that they might move out of the United States.
The couple traveled to Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Costa Rica, backpacking, surfing, staying in hostels and thinking about what they wanted to do with their lives.
Brandon, an experienced barber, took along shears, a couple of combs and a straight razor in the hope of making a little money if someone staying at a hostel needed a haircut.
Their travels helped them to see that maybe there is no place like home.
"We realized we won't make enough money to continue to travel and have the quality of life we want," Katie said Tuesday morning, opening day of their new business in Laguna Beach — The Den Barber Shop and Shave Parlor, 1854 S. Coast Hwy.
"We eventually want children, and the education systems down there [in Central and South America] aren't as good as here."
Brandon saw a need for the shop in Laguna Beach, where he and Katie now call home.
"There's two barber shops in Laguna that have been there for a long time, but there hasn't been a shop that offers more of a lounge place for gentlemen," Brandon, 31, said Friday in a phone interview. "This will be a place that has videos, every magazine you could read. Just lean back and be comfortable."
Brian Ferguson, Brandon's father, was the first customer when the Den opened at 10 a.m. He leaned back in the black Theo Kochs chair, complete with head rest and stainless steel foot rest, and let his son pamper him with a shave and a haircut.
"I had this time set two weeks ago," Brian quipped.
He was visiting from Colorado with Brandon's mother, Theresa, and sister Jenna to herald the shop's opening.
"I'm proud of him, to get this up and rolling," Jenna said of Brandon, who helped open two other shops — the Golden Crown Barber Shop in Laguna Niguel and The Señor Barber in San Juan Capistrano.
The 700-square-foot Laguna space, which has hardwood floors, used to be the Erin Ashley clothing store. In the 1920s it was a hotel and after that a salon, Katie said.
"Three-and-a-half weeks ago, this place opened up and we didn't need to do that much renovation," Brandon said.
The couple painted the inside walls, put up some photos and a flat screen television, and added two black leather waiting chairs. Copies of Rolling Stone and Entrepreneur magazines sit on a small table and cans of Coke and Modelo chill inside a refrigerator.
The space also has a fireplace and an upstairs area that the Fergusons use as an office.
Katie, 29, who teaches yoga in Costa Mesa, will help Brandon in the barber shop. The two met on a blind date seven years ago and have been married for two years.
Brandon, who is certified by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, will be the only barber to start.
Brandon said he prefers appointments, but walk-ins are welcome. Prices are $12 for a beard trim, $18 for a buzz, $25 for a cut, $45 for a shave, and $65 for a cut and shave.
The shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
The store will be closed Sundays and Mondays, in keeping with the traditional barber shop schedule, said Brandon, who said he would like to host private parties at the store.