(Re)discovering the classics. The Barbershop of Porto

September 15, 2016  11:29  |  Let’s talk

The Barbershop - SwO magazine

Photos: Nuno Fangueiro

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, I stepped into a place, which suddenly took me to a different era of time, where the music was playing all day long and where You feel the sudden solidness and manliness of the place. This sentence describes my chat with one of the owners Carlos Silva and the tattoo artist Inãki that told me about their Barbershop Porto. The shop which was created by Carlos and his brother Nuno will soon celebrate one year and when You see the motivation, devotion, and passion of what all of the members are doing in the shop you know that there is a bright future for this shop. The customers are greeted by the warm ambience and Rocky – a dog who already has become the star of the place. The guys shared their philosophy and why they decided to open such place in the town of culture.

The Barbershop

After stepping in your Barbershop Porto, I suddenly felt like I have entered a different era. Everything looks unique, antique, a little bit hipster but stylish and solid. Where manliness finds its place as I would call it. How did this idea of a barbershop in the heart of Portugal came to your mind?

Probably the first reason why we decided to open a Barbershop Porto like this is that Porto is my home city. The second other reason why this decision was made, was that there was a need for a place like this because Porto did not have a Barbershop as ours before. When looking at the past, this was an old Barbershop, which did not work for 6 months, by cause of the previous owner, who closed the shop for his health reasons. So I and my brother decided to rent the place, rebuilt it and recreate it again. As if the history would be recreated all over again.

The Barbershop

How long does your Barbershop Porto exist in this city?

This shops, which we have opened is working for 7 months. And in November we are going to celebrate 1 year. Even the fact that our place is just opened for 1 year, this place was an old shop and some regular customers were coming here for 40 years and still are.

Let’s talk a little bit of everyone’s background. What did each of you has finished/graduated and how did you find your place here?

Most of us are graduated in different areas. For example, I (Carlos Silva) have finished economics. My brother Nuno Silva was working at the bike shop, and the other barber André Macedo has a degree in graphic design and Inãki has finished graphic design, which is related to the tattoo design. I have been living in Switzerland and one day received a call from Nuno, and he explained the idea about this Barbershop and I decided to come back and make this idea into a reality and to show that everything is possible. We have a big team, but mostly every day I, Nuno, Inãki, André are working and off course the biggest star – Rocky. There are 3 tattoo artists and also 4 barbers and we now looking for a new member.

The Barbershop

It is known, that both of You and Nuno are brothers. How does it feel to work with someone from your family and did You both decided to become barbers?

It’s a family business as I could call it. We have been working together for years in the other companies, restaurants and now – we are working together again. Sometimes we mess up with each other because we are brothers (smiles). And as it can be also called – it’s a team work.

It is not hard to find barbershops in Porto. But yours is one of a kind, where everything seems to be thought about and even the smallest details here seem to find its place. What is the main inspiration for the shop? What kind of style did you think of when you were designing this place?

This place was originally inspired by the old American barber shops that we all see and know. And this kind of place is the only one in Porto, so in the need of this, the Barbershop Porto was built in the heart of this city – the main street Avenida dos Aliados. The tourism has grown over the year, and also the point that it is growing we thought that this is a great time to establish such place. It is really cool to have a place like this since this shop is original, creative and different. And as we know, the Barbershops in Porto are quite old, and it needs a new and fresh look.  The style that we focused on is vintage style.

The Barbershop 2016

Who could be called the one that got this idea about a Barbershop Porto, where there would be a dog running inside, retro style furniture and music playing all day long?

Carlos: Basically I and my brother created the interior and the look that we see today of our shop. We did a research on the internet to find ideas, inspiration, examples of the space and how we would like to have it. The image was created by our own choice, and the result that we have today is really different from what You can find in the streets of Porto.

In your shop, there is also a tattoo studio, which is quite a contrasting sphere from what your place looks like: solid and manly barbershop and a modern tattoo studio. How did this idea come along?

Inãki: The Barbershop and the tattoo shop work together, and it is an old thing, which has the same style and the same taste. Looking back to the shops in the America, these two places always collaborated and worked together. So we basically took this idea as well. And this studio which is downstairs was empty, and we just thought “Why not?”.

The Barbershop

Since you are working in a studio, where style and looks need to be thought about, there also comes individuality that is inseparable from both of these things. What are your thoughts about appearance and how do you think this applies your work?

We think that appearance is quite important and it is always the first thing that You notice in a person. The first impact – the blink, and there are things that attract people. So being original and different is quite important also. And this philosophy we are using for our barber shop as well – different vibes, looks, images, we all try to create a significant look to it, which represents our concept. We are all different with different styles, and I think that the first impact is good.

The Barbershop 2016

What is the biggest challenge in this profession? Could you share some stories, moments from your work?

Carlos: Every client has a different challenge. They come with their own ideas, but off course sometimes we suggest them something from our own point of view. When it comes to stories, well there are a few. For example, there was one client who fainted after seeing the razor (laughs). And there are some moments that You need to stop the shaving because the client just decided to go and pick his phone. Or even there were some clients that got sick because they were sober.

How do you try to be different as a shop? How do you escape the monotony of being just a barbershop?

The other barbershops around us are very old and they keep doing what they do. We keep a good connection between each of them and they intend to keep it the same. The last year a lot of Barbershops opened, but with a different concept, style and people. It still the same idea of a Barbershop for guys, but with different vibes, music and the feeling. We made the base and we stepped the first step into creating something like this. To escape the monotony every month we like to create different events like concerts, that is related to our shop since we have a lot of connections from outside.

The Barbershop 2016

What future do you see for your business, and how would You would like to expand this place?

We all have plans for the future. We want to build a bigger barbershop (pt. Barbearias) with more chairs, with a bigger team, stage. At the moment our shop is like a little kid, and our intention is to grow up. Also in our plans and dreams, we would like to have a bar inside, shops, tattoo stores. But one thing is that we want to do all of this dream in Porto and to make it big here. People want to open similar shops to ours, so it is a good thing to be the first ones. And we have clients that come here from other cities and we create new connections, friendships, so we want to be based here, in the heart of Porto. In the future also when we will have the confidence, we want to create workshops here and teach the classic haircuts, shavings and the hot towel shavings.

The Barbershop 2016

How do you try to connect with the customers, that would come to this place?

We try to do the best that we can. We choose to work with high quality products, objects that would increase the look of our place. People have different opinions about the prices and the values of our services. To some of them it seems expensive, and to others it seems cheap. We think that is a fair price for a quality. Everything has a price. The treatment, the music, the hot towel procedure, the products that we use are the best ones in the world. Also we believe in the ambience, the customer needs to feel welcomed here. He can drink a beer, whiskey here and he can read a newspaper while having a shave. That’s why the prices are so different from the other places, you don’t receive the same feeling and treatment.

What kind of tendencies can you name, that are quite popular in your field and what do the clients ask usually when they come to your place?

Carlos: There are some tendencies at the moment. For example, a lot of clients ask for fading, which is quite popular now. When it comes to beards – big beard is the top accompanied with some round moustaches.

Inãki: When it comes to the tattoos, I think that the tendencies now are the minimalistic tattoos.

The Barbershop - 2016

What does this place mean to you?

Inãki: Personally for me, since I am the youngest from all the team this is the starting point. It’s the first time that I am working in a tattoo shop, because before then I was working in my house.

Carlos:  For me and my brother Nuno this is our first business and we want to have more and more things, that would help our shop to grow. We want to show that the dream is possible.

What would you suggest to someone who wants to open their own business?

Inãki: I would suggest to create a different place. There are a lot of things in the world that are the same. And we need new ideas, new shops. The store has to be clean, and most importantly – creative in order to attract new people. It is normal to feel fear in the first months, when You open a store, but with every day the confidence is growing and growing and step by step the business is getting better.

What could be the phrase of your place, that would represent the Barbershop?

Carlos: We intend to use the classic phrase “Cheaper cuts are not good. Good haircuts are not cheap “. (smiles)

The Barbershop - 2016

Photo: Carlos Silva



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