We are often asked what you get for a haircut that costs £43, when you can easily go to a barbershop and pay anything from £10-25 for what appears to be the same service.
I stop myself from reaching for the obvious comparisons –‘ why do people pay more for a BMW than say a Volkswagen ?’ or anything that glib. It’s also not really to do with the luxury service elements we provide during the appointment when compared to a more standard barbershop. Yes, we do provide drinks ranging from a simple cup of green tea, to a gin and tonic. Of course we spend 45 minutes on your hair. Yes, we do wash your hair if required before the cut and then again after the cut to rinse away the loose ends. Absolutely we use an appointment system so you can manage your time efficiently and not be forced to queue as you do at a busy barbershop.
But that doesn’t really capture the essence of the service that we provide.
The way you look reflects on how you feel about yourself which influences how you are treated by others. It is a fact of life, and as much as we try and kid ourselves that it isn’t true, deep down we know that it is. As human-beings we should and do treat others according to what they say and do, but you can’t neglect the fact we how we treat people is also influenced by how they look.
I’m not saying that your hair is the be all and end all of everything. But it is an important part of our identity and one that I don’t think we should neglect. In my experience of owning and running men’s hair salons, I’m constantly reminded that although men may outwardly show that they don’t really care too much about their appearance, especially their hair style, we all know that they all do care. I mean, really care.
Often though, we don’t really know what to do to look our best and this is especially true of our hair style. That’s why so often during the hair consultation as a customer we grope around for the right words to describe what we want, and often fall back on the trusted ‘I’ll just have the short back and sides please’. At Genco and our sister salon Dapper, we understand this.
That’s why we insist on calling our barbers ‘stylists’. Yes, they are well-trained in hair-cutting techniques, but you can get a technically good haircut in any good salon (although this isn’t always the case). For us, a technically correct haircut is table-stakes. The people we employ have an instinct, an eye. They know what will work with your face shape, your lifestyle and whether you’re likely to spend time styling your hair in the morning or not. They spot that spark in you that makes you the best version of you and make it their job to bring this out through the style that they create for you. This stuff can’t easily be trained. Yes, you can train for skills and techniques, but this last bit of magic dust – in my experience – is an innate talent.
Not being a hairdresser myself, I have nothing but admiration for my team who day in day out apply their hearts, their creativity, and their innate talent to our clients. To me, a stylist is like a sculptor or a portrait artist. Working in real time with their client watching their every move and creating a hairstyle that has integrity and is true to the person in their chair yet somehow elevates them. It’s made more magical when their client is beautifully surprised by this enhanced version of themselves.
Now, is £43 really that much to pay?