Vincenzo Caci has wedded his love of all things reptilian with his considerable skills as a barber to open Caci Barber Shop and Reptilium at 3743 Rte. 9W in Highland.
Caci, now 34, stared cutting hair when he was 15 at his mother’s house in New Paltz.
“I did that forever even with all of the jobs that I’ve had, I still always cut hair [but] I didn’t take it seriously; I did it as a hobby,” he said.
Caci said his interest in reptiles, however, goes back further to when he was just four years old. He recalled his mother took him to the Dutchess County Fair where for the first time he saw baby iguanas.
“From that day on I was obsessed with reptiles and all animals. I wanted to be a vet and I was always really into it,” he said.
After years of pestering his mother to have pets in her house, she relented and allowed her son at age 17 to bring a lizard home, but snakes were out of the question because to her they represented the devil.
A year later, Caci convinced his mother to let him build a 10’x 8’ room downstairs, “and I filled it with snakes in a rack system. I had over 120 snakes and was breeding them and selling them at expos and online.” He laughs, remembering his mother’s reaction, “at that point she let go.”
Caci said he became more serious about cutting hair after marrying his wife Krystle in 2012. They met in high school when he was 17 and she was 14. Krystle has always been very supportive of her husband, saying that she is also a big animal lover. In addition, she is a licensed cosmetologist.
Caci received his barber’s license from Ulster County BOCES in Port Ewen. In the summer of 2016, he decided that he would work for himself as a full-time barber, saying, “I need to do something that is gonna change our lives.”
After saving for years the couple bought a duplex in Highland and today they have two young sons, Sebastiano and Massimo.
In June of 2020 Caci secured the shop in Highland and he immediately got to work with the help of his wife, his mother and their kids, cleaning and doing renovations for the barber shop. He also built glass enclosed display cases for his reptiles.
Caci has a framed map of Sicily hanging in his shop and has incorporated the Trinacria as part of his outdoor signage, all in honor of his Italian roots. This symbol depicts a three legged woman and was first adopted in 1282 by the Sicilian Vespers. It currently is on the official flag of the autonomous Sicilian region.
The couple finally opened their doors on October 28, 2020.
“I have green tree python snakes, emerald tree boas, red tail boas, a basilisk lizard, quince and green tree monitor reptiles, a jaguar carpet python and a chameleon,” he said, adding that he also has a 280 gallon salt water fish tank. “They are from Hawaii and the indo-pacific region and the Red Sea and the Indian Sea.”
Caci said having the Reptilium has helped attract clients to his business; “it’s like an indoor zoo.”
Caci keeps himself abreast of the current trends in his profession. He cuts mostly men’s hair but sometimes has female clients.
“I think that as a barber in this industry you have to raise the bar, you have to be precise with your cuts from an older man’s gentleman cut to a young 20s skin fade to a kids regular cut. If you can’t cover every ground, they’re not going to come through my door. You have to be able to do every style or close to every style to stay on top of your game,” he said.
The Caci Barbershop and Reptilium is open from Wednesday through Friday from 10am to 6pm and on Saturday from 10am until 4pm. Vincenzo can be reached at 845-332-0944.