Following on from the first instalment in the series, Award Winning Advice, Modern Barber spoke to the winner of Best Barbershop Interior at the Modern Barber Awards 2022, Shepherds, about the importance of an attractive barbershop interior.
MB: How long has shepherds been open?
Shepherds: Shepherds opened five years ago in a small shop in Piccadilly Arcade, home to independent boutique brands in Birmingham City Centre.
After four years in our original space we decided to take on a bigger unit at the same Arcade; the new shop is located on the corner of the arcade and is facing New Street – one of the busiest streets in Birmingham.
After six months to fit it out, we opened our doors to the new unit on 6 September, 2021.
MB: What was the space before you moved in?
Shepherds: One of the most iconic jewellery shops in Birmingham. Three generations of jewellers ran the jewellers for over 85 years.
MB: Why was the interior of the space important to you?
Shepherds: We wanted to open a space that Birmingham would be proud of. The arcade and the city have so much to offer in the way of history, culture and style, but too many big name high street shops have taken the independent charm away. Over the last five years Birmingham has taken a massive leap forward and there are more independent businesses opening in Birmingham every year than any other city in the UK. This means as a Brummie I wanted to give people an example of what this city, and its people, can achieve.
We used local tradesman for the fit out and carpentry, as well as all the metal work being made in Birmingham’s historic metal works.
The style is simple and effortless (but we know to achieve this look takes a lot of work). We wanted to open a space that doesn’t scream barbershop or hairdressers. We wanted somewhere that feels calm, clean and natural. The use of wood, leather, stone and brass give the shop a connective link to nature. The use and design of these elements take the shop to a more elegant feel. Our 1 metre by 2 metres brass island is a focal point that tells people this is a safe and strong place that they can relax.
I was also very aware that the clients siting in the barber chairs needed to feel disconnection from the busy high street and their busy lives; I added a slatted wall that gives privacy but doesn’t cut any of the natural light. We also tinted the windows to the barbershop to make it feel like the client is tucked away somewhere safe, away of the noise and hectic life out side.
MB: What inspired your design choices for your barbershop interior?
Shepherds: I wanted to use the simple and effortless design of our first shop combined with the history of the jewellers that was left in the premises. We used all of the original barber sections and seats from the old shop so that we could carry on the story of the fist shop, and also to cut down on waste. This would show the clients that we have grown but not forgot where we came from.
The use of cut glass and brass on the lamps carried on the shine and sparkle of the jewellery shop. The glass is hand blown and has diamonds that create ripple look over the big brass island. We deliberately chose not the put a finish on the island as we wanted peoples hands to make stories on the surface and time to be its decorator. We also used the arcade’s classic style to soften the interior of the barbershop.
Finally Birmingham, as a kid growing up I always found the train lines traveling high in the sky on these giant columns to be the stuff of dreams and I’ve always loved archways. There is a strength and supportive nature to them but the curves also make them welcoming and homey.
MB: Do customers comment on the interior? If so, what do they say?
Shepherds: Yes, everyday, they comment on how bold and beautiful it is. They like the colours, the atmosphere and the elegance.
MB: Do you think your interior attracts people’s attention on social media?
MB: Do you think it affects people booking (or rebooking)?
Shepherds: The shop is a key slice of the cake that makes the client journey enjoyable and successful. How important it is to an individual client varies, but all want the same thing: a good haircut, in a nice shop, by a nice barber, who has a nice chat. Without those four things being done, everything else will struggle to impress the clients.
MB: In what ways do you think having an aesthetically pleasing barbershop has contributed to Shepherd’s success?
Shepherds: Firstly the main contribution is that the barbers are happy and like being in the space for eight hours a day.
On the clients’ side, it gives them a great first impression and they are more likely to book with us. It is an aspirational place for many clients and that, backed with great quality service and haircuts, makes an impact on client retention.
MB: What aspects do you think are key to an aesthetically pleasing barbershop?
Shepherds: Clean, decluttered spaces – remember, most of your clients are looking for a relaxing experience.
No screens – it is the only moment that clients get to be away from their devices.
Pleasing colour palette – follow what you have chosen for your branding, but do some research on what colours can do to influence the clientele you are targeting.
Add greenery – there are plenty of studies that have found that plants can have a very positive influence when it comes to boosting our mood. One study found that the presence of plants indoors relaxes almost everyone, and indoor plant life can also have a positive impact on energy levels and engagement.
Use raw materials – this will help to attract conscious consumers and will reduce your carbon footprint.
MB: Does having a dedicated products space boost retail sales?
Shepherds: Yes, clients have the space and time to explore our retail offering without disturbing the barbershop operation. They have the time to speak to a dedicated retail staff member that is there to offer the best solution to them.
MB: What tips would you offer to someone designing, or redesigning, their barbershop?
Shepherds: Do something that reflects you and what you like. Too many barbershops do what they think is cool. I’ve seen people buy Harley Davidsons and put them in the windows and the owners can’t even ride a push bike. Always be honest and true to you. Let your character speak out. If you like rock, have a rock barbers, if you are into football, have a footie style barbershop. That way you will attract people like you who you will be able to interact with and build relationships with much more naturally.
MB: Is there anything about your interior that is unique to Shepherds/ makes you stand out from other barbershops?
Shepherds: We have no reception. The island is an invitation for clients to sit down and have a drink with us while they are waiting for their appointment or while they are shopping. It is a great space for consultations as well. It is a focal point to the exclusive products that we curate for our clients and it is a beautiful space for photos to show off our artistic haircuts.