Not Your Usual Barber

Where do you cut your hair? Whenever I want to get a faux hawk or a mohawk, I’m naturally inclined to visit my barber. Yes, a salon provides you with fancy hair products and nice head my shoulder massage. The problem is, I’m never satisfied with the shave.

Talk about barbers and the first thing that comes to mind would be the neighborhood barbers dominated by the friendly Malay uncles we grew up with. If the notion of barbering seems old-fashioned, there’s a good reason. Its history dates back many centuries. In the past, barbers held high places in society, right up there with ancient priests and the clergy. They didn’t just cut hair and shave beards and moustaches; they also performed surgeries and in some cultures were believed to rid people of evil spirits by cutting their hair.

We speak to Mervyn Hi, representing a new breed of barbers in Singapore.

M: What inspired you to be a barber? I heard you do hair tattoos too, how much do they cost? MH: I started cutting my own hair because some lady screwed up my mohawk and I thought it was fun cutting my own hair and for my friends too. No one took me seriously when I started out, but am glad to everyone who supported me in one way or another. Right now things are looking better and better. I work as a freelance barber by appointments only, so you can just make an appointment with me at 96346121. Hair tattoos are around 25 while hair cuts are around 35 to 50.

M: That’s affordable! But what are the difficulties you face working as a freelance barber?

MH: I think the most difficult part of being a freelance barber is that some customers do not understand the meaning of being punctual for an appointment. Some customers who are late get pissed of at me when I do not have time to cut their hair when my schedule is more packed than the commuters in the Circle Line trains. I do understand that “the customer is always right”, but in a service line, I believe it should be understood that it is best to treat someone the way you want to be treated.

M: What are your future plans?

MH: Future plans would be to try and open a barber shop, where more of my personality can be shown. But I will still be cutting hair for as long as I can.

The Metropolitant team would love to get hair tattoo for Christmas, what design should we get?

Photo Credits: Mervyn Hi and John Tan

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