The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Cory Mathews: Cultivating community with cuts

Photo by Andrew Cicala
Cory Perez at his craft at the Westfield location

What do the New York Jets players, New York Giants players and Westfield teens all have in common? They may get their hair cut by the same person. That person is Cory Mathews.

Walking into Cory Mathew’s Men’s Grooming, we were greeted by the proprietor and namesake in his natural element. The music was lively, chairs were filled, employees were dancing and not a single person in the room lacked a smile on their face.

Cory Mathew Perez grew up in Cranford and from an early age was surrounded by members of the salon industry. His mother, Sofi, is the owner of Sofi’s Color Lounge in Westfield, so Perez spent many hours being exposed to the business. After studying graphic design and fine arts at Kean University, Perez decided to go back to his roots: the hair industry. “I got into cutting hair in my early 20s; I didn’t want to do women’s hair so I chose barbering,” Perez said.

Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Perez has learned valuable lessons that have made him the person he is today. His sister, Christine, is the owner of the Sofi’s location in Cranford and his father, Luis, along with his mother, own 1958 Cuban Cuisine on South Avenue in Westfield. From each parent, Perez gained a set of skills. Whether it was physically cutting hair or learning what it takes to be a personable business owner, he credits a lot of what he has learned today to his family.

When talking about his dad, he smiled and said, “My dad’s awesome. He’s a very outgoing and electric guy.” His father is a social person who knows how to talk to people and that is something he taught Cory since it wasn’t always his “strong point.” He explained how his dad is always bringing him new customers and is always talking highly of him at the restaurant. He holds the same vibrant smile when talking about his mom and how living through her success with her salon made him motivated to start his own.

At the age of 22, Perez was approached by a friend from high school with a business opportunity. “They had a salon there but it went out of business,” Perez explained. “My buddy knew that my family was involved with salons, so he approached me. Then my father and I decided to take the salon over and turn it into a barber shop.” From there, Cory Mathew’s Men’s Grooming was born.

The first location was in Perez’s hometown of Cranford, the perfect location to start a local business. The success of the salon took off and one location became too busy; the Westfield and Sommerville salons soon followed. Now, the three storefronts are a bustling hive of mens’ haircuts.

Throughout the years, Perez has expanded his network to professional sports teams. His first client was Jace Amaro, a former tight end for the New York Jets. Perez reached out to him on Instagram and by the end of 2016, Amaro came to the shop.

Perez explained networking as a domino effect. Once you cut one person’s hair, you hope they make a referral. The more hair he cuts, the more people talk about it, and the more business he gains.

Amaro invited him to an event with NFL players and his family. The event was rained out, but Perez still had the ability to meet a ton of players and little by little built up his network.

Today, many professional players contact Perez when in need of a fresh cut whether in season or out of season, they find a way to make it to the salon or bring Perez to them. He has cut a variety of different players’ hair from different teams including the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and the New York Red Bulls. Perez said, “This has definitely helped my business grow without a doubt. It opens a lot of doors to outside connections.”

Entrepreneuring is not an easy task. Perez admitted that he got shut down a lot and heard many “no’s” being a businessman. His go-to advice for younger kids wanting to pursue their passions is to “never take no for an answer and always stay persistent. If you want something, go get it.” Having this mentality helped him expand his business and create his empire. Although Perez already has three shops, he does not plan on stopping there. His goal is to expand the Cory Mathew’s name.

Not only is he a business owner, but an active member of his community. Perez loves to get involved with Cranford as he finds comfort in the town, but he is looking to do the same in Westfield and Sommerville. One major goal Perez has is to be a more active member in the community of his other locations and possibly sponsor important and fun events in each area.

When speaking about his staff at every location, he says, with a strong emphasis, that he has a great team at each and every one. A large piece of the success of his team is Westfield Manager Jess McCloud.

From the moment McCloud walked into the room, it was evident that the two had a close bond. Perez’s smile softened as she wrapped her arm around him. “I lean on the people that run the shop for me,” Perez said. “She is more than a manager. It’s hard to manage the store and cut hair, so, even when I am here, she is in charge.”

McCloud asserted that running a business is no easy feat. “You have to be able to wear many hats in this industry,” she said.

When asked about his staff, Perez’s gratitude for the team that he has built was evident. “There is no way I could be where I am without my people,” he said with a smile. Each person added to Cory Mathew’s staff instantly becomes part of their loving family.

Equally as important as his relation- ships with his employees, Perez noted that the success of his business is built upon his relationships with customers. When in the shop, he tries to say hello and acknowledge every customer in order to create a friendly environment because Perez wants all his customers to feel valued.

WHS senior Nicolas Rodrigues is a regular customer at the Cranford location and while Perez is not his stylist he said, “Every time I walk into the shop everyone has a great attitude. When Cory is in the store he is always making the rounds making sure everyone is comfortable.”

At every location, Perez and his staff are hard at work trying to create an enjoyable customer experience that makes people want to come back. Perez’s positivity and down-to-earth attitude around the shop creates a special experience for everyone.

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    stephenApr 22, 2024 at 11:34 am

    this guy is a true gem, the shops as well. so much love !