New York native Derick Matos discovered Concord while traveling the country, and the open space and hills inspired him to make the East Bay his home. At the same time, Matos embarked on a career change, leaving his job as a troubleshooter for plant operations to pursue more creative interests. Matos had always been intrigued by the sense of community that is central to barbering, so he decided to explore the profession, hoping that it would also satisfy his artistic side.
After perfecting his craft, Matos opened Empire Barbershop—the first business of its kind at Concord’s Sunvalley Shopping Center—in early 2014. Four years later, Empire has become a place where team members continue their education in the ever-evolving styling industry while still keeping customers happy. Each individual interaction in the shop is deeply valued.
"Barbering is one of the oldest trades known to mankind. We approach our trade with great responsibility and work to continue this legacy," Matos says. "[A barbershop] is where boys become men and can learn to tie a tie, ask for advice, and gain the confidence they need to grow in an ever-changing world.
"What we love is the opportunity to consistently meet new people," he continues. "Every day is different, and you never know who will walk through the door or sit in your chair."
Now 10 years into his career, Matos has earned a stellar reputation that’s brought him many high-profile clients. NBA athletes (including players from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs), hip-hop legends, and CEOs from the nation’s most influential companies are among the luminaries who have entrusted him with their haircuts.
In addition to his passion for connecting with others, Matos enjoys supporting the community through barbering. In 2016, he opened a second Empire location at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Martinez. Both civilians and veterans can get their hair cut at Matos’ barbershop, and his team will even visit the bedsides of disabled veterans to ensure they receive cuts and shaves, too.
"My entire family has served in the U.S. military—my father, uncles, cousins," Matos says. "This is our way of giving back for their service to our country." Concord and Martinez, empire-barbershop.com.
Changes Salon and Day Spa
"I have been getting my facials done by Lexie at Changes for [the past] few years to work on problems I had with my skin. The products and peels they use never irritate my skin, and I get wonderful results. I love relaxing before my appointment in the waterfall room, and the front desk is always so helpful. It feels like home whenever I’m at Changes." Walnut Creek, changessalon.com. —Erin Brenes, Concord
Women’s Hair Colorist
Caroline Wiseman of Caroline’s Salon
A New Orleans native with a star-studded client list, Caroline Wiseman has brought her Emmy-nominated skills to Lafayette. Before customizing your hair color, she will consider elements such as your skin tone, your preferred hairstyle, and even what season it is. For a fun look, try balayage, a trendy technique that offers softer, more natural-looking results than traditional highlights. Lafayette, carolinessalon.net.
Specialized Treatment Venue
A holistic healing technique that enhances circulation, reduces inflammation, speeds up recovery time after injuries, and promotes better sleep, cryotherapy offers numerous benefits that outweigh the chill of this subzero procedure. The two-to-three minute treatment involves stepping into a full-body, –188°F chamber. (U.S. Cryotherapy uses purerefrigeration—not chemicals—to keep things cool.) Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek; uscryotherapy.com.
Bollinger Nail Salon
If you are planning a mani-pedi meet-up with friends, Bollinger Nail Salon’s six spacious East Bay locations make things a breeze. Book ahead to reserve spots together, and feel free to bring snacks and libations for a festive vibe. Multiple locations, bollingernailsalon.com.
Blow Dry Bar Studio
The next time you’re looking for voluminous hair in a flash, head to this renowned salon. If the heat from your blow-out leaves your scalp feeling a trifle dull, add on a hair treatment—such as a 10-minute scalp massage—to rejuvenate your locks. Or if you’re going for a night on the town, take advantage of Blow Dry Bar Studio’s makeup services and false eyelash application. (Bonus: For extra fun, feel free to take along your little ones. Children ages 10 and under can get their own blow-outs for $30.) Danville and Walnut Creek, bdbstudio.com.
Kure Wellness Retreat
Save the airfare, and bring a Hawaiian vacation to you with Kure Wellness Retreat’s lomilomi massage, a soothing treatment that uses rhythmic, fluid motions to melt away tension. For a more traditional experience, try a classic deep-tissue or aromatherapy massage with personally selected essential oils. Massages can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, so you have time to treat yourself no matter your schedule. Danville, kurewellnessretreat.com.
Women’s Hair Salon
For the 16th year, Tribez Salons have won Diablo’s Best of the East Bay contest—and it’s easy to see why: Each location boasts a sleek, modern interior and a top-notch team of stylists who have perfected chic hairstyles such as beachy waves. (Several staff members even lent their talents to last year’s New York Fashion Week shows.) Blackhawk, Danville, and Livermore; tribezsalon.com.
The Woodhouse Day Spa
This beloved pampering spot is conveniently located near your favorite downtown Walnut Creek haunts, but all the hustle and bustle fades away once you step inside for some well-deserved relaxation time. Walnut Creek, walnutcreek.woodhousespas.com.
By the Numbers
3: Sleep treatments offered, such as the Lavender Dreams massage using wild-crafted lavender and herbs.
6: Duration, in hours, of The Woodhouse Experience package, which includes a minkyti facial and a four-handed massage.
7: Services provided in the 110-minute Woodhouse Escape service.
9: Treatments involving seaweed.
8,300+: Massages given since the spa’s opening in November 2015.