Ovsanna Harutyunyan is the founder of Brilliant Cut, the new barbershop in Brno. Originally from Armenia, Ovsanna did not grow up dreaming of cutting and styling hair. She simply gave it a try and discovered a lifelong passion, especially to work on men's hair. Now she styles the hair of dozens of men, most of them being regular clients. Let's see the exclusively male environment of barbershops from a woman's perspective.
What do you think is driving the current boom and success of barbershops among men?
In my personal opinion, as the economy grows and people have more disposable income, most of us try to build something. Men, as we know, have begun to take more care of themselves. So it seemed like a good idea to open something that is and will be in demand.
What exactly do men expect when they enter a barbershop?
Friendly staff, a place to relax from their worries, and a clean environment. Every person, man or woman, pays attention to details. Dust on the table or hair on the floor or chair is not acceptable, everything must be topnotch. Cleanliness is one of the most important rules in barbershops.
What is the relationship between male barbers, and female barbers? Do they see you as disrupting their exclusively male territory?
It is possible that some do not take us seriously. They sometimes say that women have no business in a barbershop. Yes, it is true that a woman as a client has no business there. However, a woman as a barber? It's common in the rest of the world, but has not yet caught on in the Czech Republic.
Why did you decide to open your own barbershop? Did you always want to be a hairdresser?
I never intended to be a hairdresser or a barber. It was a coincidence. I simply said to myself that I would try hairdressing and see how I liked it. And there it was, I got so hooked that I started devoting myself to it fully.
Already in school, I took part in competitions for men's and women's haircuts, where I received several awards. After school, I traveled abroad to gain experience, and a year later I returned. Since then, I knew I wanted to start my own business.
I've always enjoyed cutting men's hair, and I still do. My work fulfills me, and I enjoy going there. The smile on my clients' faces is the most rewarding thing.
Who are your most frequent customers? Regulars, or men from the street?
My clients are the most loyal ones, maybe too loyal (laughs). Quite a few clients found me after leaving my previous job, which made me very happy.
Do men like to chat while getting their hair cut? I'm referring to the "feminine" idea of hairdressing – relaxation, washing, cutting, coffee, and gossip...
Absolutely. They do like to chat. Personally, I find it better when there's conversation during a haircut. I know most men are nervous when they're somewhere for the first time, so it's better to ask and show interest in where they're from, what they do, or if they're students or working. This way, the client will realize they have no reason to be nervous. Then they'll relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the salon and the actual grooming process. But be careful, men gossip too. You usually learn very interesting things. A barber is like your friend that listens to you, but they never pass it on, so clients can speak freely.
In some barbershops, women and children are not allowed to enter in order to maintain a purely masculine environment. What about your shop?
Yes, that's how it is with us too. We want to maintain this tradition, which has been around since ancient times. Personally, I always explain it to newcomers so they don't take it as discrimination. Usually I compare it to women going to hairdressers. They also don't bring a man along to wait for two hours while they're getting their hair dyed, cut, and chat with the hairdresser.
Do you have any interest in participating in the now popular shows and competitions, such as Barber Battle?
I have already participated in the Barber Battle, in fact, in the very first year. It was at the last minute because I found out about it five minutes before the deadline. It was a great event and I will definitely participate again in the future.
How is a typical barbershop promoted? Is it through social media, internet advertising? Or do most customers come on recommendation?
I mostly use advertising on Google or Instagram, but personal recommendations work very well.
Anything interesting to share at the end?
We are a barbershop trying to bring in a new trend that hasn't been here before. We are women taking care of men, and the quality of our work comes from doing it right and from the heart.
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