Last week we introduced our new grooming contributor, Colonel Cator Sparks, and proceeded to blow your well-coiffed minds with his extensive expertise in drugstore products that will make you 45-90% better looking. Now you're suitably strung out for his next nugget of wisdom so for this installment, the Colonel guides us through the barbershop. What to do, what not to do, and what will get you laughed at.
We all know what it's like to step onto the sacred grounds of a barbershop. There's the lead barber who all the others look up to, there is typically the strange person at the register collecting coin for the rest and then, of course, there is the clientele. You know, the ones who like to boast to the entire room about their weekend of women or their flashy new job. And then they wonder about how gossip spreads so darn fast. Shut it shady! It's an anthropologically specific set up so we rang up J.P. Mastey, owner of the heritage grooming line Baxter of California and owner of the Baxter Finley Barber & Shop in Los Angeles, who in turn referred us to his lead barber Jason Simao. We chopped it up for some expert barbershop etiquette advice. Take notes.
Colonel Cator: What does every customer absolutely need to know before coming in?
Jason: Most guys know what they want. They usually want the same cut they've been getting. But it's not totally necessary to know what you want either. Our shop has great barbers that can make suggestions based on your hair type, hair thickness, cowlicks etc. So don't be shy and speak up if you want a recommendation.
Colonel Cator: How do you feel about customers who bring in pictures for reference?
Jason: It totally depends on the scenario. Some guys will bring in a clipping from a magazine, or ask for a "Sinatra". Assuming I can actually achieve the look with the hair that he has, then a photo gives great direction. But if you bring in a picture of James Dean rocking a pompadour and you look nothing like the man, and your hair type is nothing like his. I think you can guess what we barbers think of "that guy". Be realistic.
Colonel Cator: What shouldn't you talk to your barber about?
Jason: Personally, I'm a believer in freedom of speech. Be you but be respectful of the people who are around you. It's really as simple as that. Be conscious of who is in the shop, and don't try to create an audience out of the entire shop.
Colonel Cator: What do you do if a client is unhappy?
Jason: Don't get us confused with that rockabilly shop, Sparky. [Laughs] OK assuming someone is upset, we are about customer service here and building a clientele. It's really important to me that clients leave the chair happy. If they're not satisfied I'm going to figure out what went wrong and do my best to correct it. You can't please them all but I try.
Colonel Cator: What's the proper amount to tip?
Jason: Let it rain! No really, the common tip will range from $5-$20, with an average of $7. A tip below $5 really isn't a tip—you can keep that in your own piggy bank. My clients tend to know me and what I am into. I get discounts at shops, clothes, kicks, food, and other hook-ups in lieu of tips and I think that's awesome (most of the time).
Baxter Finley Barber & Shop
515 N la Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
PREVIOUSLY: Colonel Cator's Lesson #1: Drug Store Shakedown