I think it’s safe to say that most of us — at least us men — either cut our own hair or simply visit a chain like Supercuts every few months. While there’s nothing wrong with this, there are certain people that feel like the barber experience is more than just a haircut.
For generations barbershops were a forum for public discourse, politics, neighborhood gossip, city rumors, town progress, food, business, religion, anything goes. Somewhere along the way we lost that. Fortunately, businesses like Lionshead Barbershop are bringing it back.
You may have noticed over the last 5 to 10 years an apparent revival of ‘craft’. The hand-pulled prints, the hand-lettered signs, hand-drawn typography, chalk-board menus, dare I say ‘pallet tables’. Anything that goes beyond our initial concept of hand-made and meets a traditional quality standard is generally widely accepted. People and the things they make seem to be desirable again. Fair enough? Time to meet ‘Big John’ and ‘Aaron the Barber’ of Lionshead Barbershop… they are doing just that.
AltDaily: We’ll start with something easy… Who works here?
Big John & Aaron: Currently, we have two full-time barbers, ourselves, Big John and Aaron the Barber, and two apprentices. We’d also like to mention our friend Jay R. He’s one of our partners who was integral in getting the shop open and he also owns and operates The Parlor Barbershop in Virginia Beach.
Who’s hair do you cut?
Men’s and women’s short hair styles. Walk-ins are welcome. Appointments are guaranteed.
Describe your style as a barbershop.
Traditional gentlemen style haircuts. Timeless. WWII era is a familiar time period to describe the style. We can do pompadours, comb overs, undercuts. Hard parts, skin fades, and pomade are pretty common. No perms. No coloring. We specialize in great fades and incorporating straight razors.
What is a hard part?
When you cut in definition to the natural part by using a razor to emphasize the natural part. If you go outside the natural part it becomes a ‘design’.
Besides cuts what else do you guys do?
We sell beard washes, beard oils, pomades, mustache wax, shaving soap and body soap, and some charity work.
Tell us about the charity work.
Occasionally we’ll do barber outreaches and we’ll set up at local churches or shelters and cut hair for folks who can’t afford it on their own.
What are some of the best reasons to have a barber?
Big John: Trust, quality and ease. You know what you’re going to get. We’re pros with a real devotion to the craft. A relationship with your barber can be an outlet that becomes part of a positive routine and provides consistency.
Aaron: We do more than just cut hair. We sell confidence, transformation, and trust. We’re here as confidants. A fresh cut from a formally trained barber will leave you feeling fresh mentally, and physically. Come as you are and you’ll leave feeling fresh and confident.
Why did you start Lionshead Barbershop?
Big John: I’d previously worked at The Parlor Barbershop with Jay R, a great traditional barber over in Virginia Beach but I felt it was time I stepped out on my own. I wanted to start a barbershop that represented myself authentically and honestly. I also wanted to be closer to home and give our friends in Ocean View a convenient location. The goal of the Lionshead is to represent authenticity and honesty.
Aaron: I wanted to be part of a larger movement back to tradition. I felt it was something I could do and do well and it was time for change. I’d put in time learning the trade at Toppers Barbershop near the oceanfront and I wanted to build something new and creative that I could call my own.
Why do you cut hair?
Big John: Mostly for the relationships, the male environment. We like to think we specialize in making gentlemen. I’m helping men get back to something more traditional. We’re showing folks what they’re missing in a world that’s becoming socially crippled.
Aaron: Crawling under houses for a living was no fun. Again, I wanted something honest and creative. Barbering is a skilled trade that allows me to be creative and it’s in a revival. My mother being in the industry as I was growing up probably had something to do with it as well.
I noticed something very special when I visited Lionshead Barbershop a recent weekend. As I patiently waited for my turn, I watched Big John execute his craft on a Navy sailor using everything in his arsenal to make his client look and feel 100% – shears, clippers, comb and straight razor, all handled masterfully. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the great deal of skill and authenticity at Lionshead. Aaron and John honed their craft in other shops, rolled the dice and started a business. Sitting there, soaking everything in, I realized price and convenience are no longer the most important influences on customers. More and more businesses are shifting their focus to the quality of product or service they’re selling.
Perhaps this is a response to our hyper-connected lives forcing us along at breakneck speed. Some of us are beginning to slow down and reconnect with what actually matters. Some might say society is finally stopping to smell the roses.
Lionsheads Barbershop is one of those roses.