A few years ago you could hardly find a decent barber shop for men, and nowadays there are so many that it’s hard to choose one. The good ones, like Cut Throat Barber and Coffee, stand out because they don’t follow the trends, but rather create their own. The guys behind it call it “A place for men, by men”, and it’s a pretty accurate description. It’s a friendly and easy-going place where you can drink a coffee, hang out, and get a professional shave or haircut. No appointments, just walk in. This no-bullshit approach seems to be working for them.
We recently had a conversation with Jimmy, who runs the shop with his mate Tom. He told us the story of the shop, and how they made it what it is today.
JIMMY: I left New Zealand in 2011 after I lost my shop to the earthquake. When I first came to Holland I wasn’t really looking to open a shop but I thought I needed a job, so first thing I did was walk around and look for barber shops – but I couldn’t find a single one in Amsterdam. So there was a gap in the market and I needed to do something about it, but at the time I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to stay in Amsterdam because I lived in Melbourne as well and a bit of my heart was over there. I spent a few months in Amsterdam and then a few months in Melbourne and finally decided that Amsterdam is the place where I’m gonna do it. Tom and I had been talking for years about doing something together. This concept (coffee to go and a barber shop) was already in our heads 7 years ago.
I came back and spent a year and a half looking for the right place. It had to be in the centre and it had to be accessible for everybody. We got really lucky finding this place to be honest. I was close to giving up, and Tom was also looking for places online from New Zealand, but there was nothing in the centre. My auntie found this place somehow online and she sent me the phone number. I didn’t call, I just came down here and knocked on the door. I caught the guy as he was leaving on his bike, and told him I wanted to rent the shop. I shared the concept with him and he was interested in it. Tom arrived in Amsterdam during this time, and he didn’t know about this place because I didn’t want to get his hopes up. So when he landed I told him, “Alright mate, get ready because we’re gonna do a presentation tomorrow night to try and get this shop.” So he landed on a Wednesday and by Friday the place was ours.
This building used to be a police station. Our shop is on the ground floor and above us there are, I think, 13 offices. This place used to be a tea shop before us.
The chairs were a big drama. I had worked with old chairs before and it can be a bit of a nightmare. We were looking all over Europe for chairs, and even in America, but they were so expensive. In the end a friend of ours, a Spanish guy that had lived in New Zealand, randomly sent us a photo of this red chair and said he’s got four of these. The photos looked pretty good so we said we’ll get them, but then we spent about 3 weeks trying to figure out how to ship them from Spain. Also it turned out that the chairs weren’t his, he was just selling them from someone else, trying to make a commission. So literally the day before we opened the shop, the chairs finally arrived and they were in pieces. They must’ve been out in the mud, they were dirty, they were broken, and loose. So when we opened we only had one working chair, but nobody knew that. The hydraulics didn’t work, they didn’t go up and down, so I just used the one that worked. We cleaned them all so they looked good, but then we had to call someone to fix them all up. Now they all work and it’s fantastic. Best thing we did was to get those chairs. Good times. These are about 150-200 kg a chair. The two green ones, the Kokens, were made in 1919, and the two red ones were made in the Basque Country. They are Portuguese-style barber chairs and they were made in 1912. They probably had quite a few stories told in them. (smiles)
The other crazy thing with the shop was this brick wall. It used to be just a white wall and we wanted to expose the brick, but we didn’t know at the time what was behind it. A week or two before the opening, on a Friday night, after having a few beers in the pub, I came back to the shop, took the drill out and started to drill in the wall to see what happens. Then I got the hammer out and chipped a bit off, and then another bit. We did a small area, cleaned it, and it looked pretty good so we decided to do the whole thing the next day. It took us 3 weeks in the end to finish it. We are very happy with the way it came out, but someone would have to pay me big money to do that again. (laughs)
Warmoesstraat 155, 1012 JC Amsterdam, The Netherlands
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GYULA DEAK