by Danni Levy

With 2.4 m devoted followers on Instagram, British model Stephen James has established himself as one of the most influential talents on the planet.

Scouted in Barcelona in 2012, Stephen became ELIJAH. His Barcelona barbershop of the same name now hosts a fully-fledged gym and tattoo studio and attracts high-end clientele from around the globe. Having recently launched his latest ELIJAH hair range, I wanted to tap into Stephen’s shit-hot strategy.

Stephen James

“I first came to Barcelona around eight years ago,” says Stephen. I was playing professional soccer at the time. I loved the fact you could enjoy city life while also having the beach and the mountains within a stone’s throw. Modeling meant non-stop travel, and I wanted to find a ‘home’. I decided to set up a permanent base in this beautiful city.”

Three years ago, Stephen embarked on a journey to launch his own business right in the epicenter of the Spanish hotspot.

“ELIJAH began as a barbershop,” he says. “The notion developed from understanding precisely what the modern man represents. I wanted to put luxury into men’s grooming.

ELIJAH grew into a one-stop- shop for people to discover new ideas, find their style, and create new links through barbering and tattooing. Growing a physical business meant spending long hours at the shop, and I wasn’t getting to the gym until late at night to train. So, I decided to bring the gym to me and utilize the free space the premises housed downstairs. The gym has been open to the public for six months and completes ELIJAH as a destination for like-minded people.”

“The hiring process and the work ethic at ELIJAH cannot be matched. We are training the team seven days a week or looking for new members to join us or new locations to set up. Only with complete dedication can I offer a true, complete ELIJAH experience.”

Stephen insists that if you want to be the best, you have to work with the best.

“From the beginning of my journey as a model and on social media, I aimed high,” he says. “I always moved with strategy and knew I could offer something that was missing at the time. Whether collaborating with an individual or a brand, I always limit myself to working with a niche pool of elite partners. Never undervalue yourself.”

Hair, tattoos, working out. Every man’s dream, but which of the three takes the lead in Stephen’s life?

“Training will always be top of my list,” he says. “Training has given me so many opportunities to grow professionally, previously as a soccer player and now as a model and gym owner. Of course, my motivation always has its highs and lows, and when you’re busy traveling and running a business, fitness sometimes ends up on the back burner.

“I train hard, and I’m always on the go, but admittedly the diet factor is my letdown. I try to get adequate protein during the day and eat in moderation. The next step is implementing a strict diet routine; it’s the missing piece of the puzzle! That said, over the past year, where my physique goals are concerned, it’s all just come together, the muscle mass is piling on, and I feel full of energy.

“I do love my tattoos too! I’m not sure how many I have; I’ve lost count. It’s impossible to keep track when you’re as covered as I am – and when you have a shop of incredible artists ready to go when an idea comes to mind. But if I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably say the James Brown portraits I have.

“I created the new ELIJAH range because it’s something I always felt was needed, even years before opening the shop. I spent so much time going to different shoots or salons worldwide and never found products that performed how I wanted them to, smelt the right way, or had packaging that looked modern, luxurious, and masculine. I created ELIJAH in partnership my long-term agency, Unsigned Group. It’s the modern classic, and it was the natural evolution in the ELIJAH brand after opening the barbershop.”

Instagram: @whoiselijah @elijah


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