Please tell us something about your background and how did you get into the barber craft?
I’m Ivan Albert, a 29 year old barber working in the beautiful Haarlem. I was born in Slovakia and moved to the Netherlands when I was 5 years old. In my younger years, I was absolutely certain about becoming a soldier until my pension age. I did become a soldier, but unfortunately, we did not go on a mission and I lost my motivation. Instead, I trimmed the boys at the barracks before we went out in the evening. After some conversations, defense paid my school and I started my first days at the Barber School in Amsterdam. I’ve always been really into craftsmanship and attention to detail, also social life is very important to me. Now I found the perfect combination of both in the barber craft, so this is really a dream job to me.
What were your biggest challenges when starting your own barber salon?
My biggest challenge was the administration part… Luckily a good friend of mine works as an accountant and he has taken care of this part. I just have to do what I’m good at cut and shave.
Any trends you're noticing for men's grooming these days? And how do you see evolving them over the next decade or so?
I see the hairstyles for men very short again. The crop cut for men is slowly accepted and the simple buzz cut is doing very well these days. I don’t think that there are many new trends coming up: men simply love what they’re familiar with
Can you advise a daily grooming routine for the modern gent?
For men with medium long hair, I would definitely advise to blow-dry in the morning. This is something you have to practice once, but when you know the routine, it might take only 3 minutes in the morning and you create volume and firmness for the whole day. The same appears for a beard: If you have a long beard, you can blow-dry it in the perfect shape.
What are the work environment and culture like at your salon?
At the moment I have a shop-in-shop barber shop. This means the barbershop is in a menswear fashion shop. The atmosphere is always good, people watch and ask questions, they sometimes forget we’re in a clothing shop. Also, I talk with my clients about everything when they’re in the chair ready for a new haircut.
What can you find at your barber salon which you cannot find anywhere else?
The extra attention I give to customers and I really try to create the best hairstyles for my clients. An average treatment takes up to 45 minutes, it’s not just about cutting, it’s about the shape of your head, how the hair falls, massage the head a little bit, also shave the neck and finish with a warm towel etcetera.
What do you like best about doing business? And do you have tips for other starting entrepreneurs?
The best thing about entrepreneurship is that I’m flexible. If I see something that works or something that does not work, I immediately change it. This is how I try to make my customers as satisfied as possible. After all, a satisfied customer is a satisfied barber.
And for the ones that would like to start their own business: Just do it! In the worst case, you can always stop and you are exactly where you were, but with a new experience that made you stronger. And in the best case: you have found your dream job, with all the freedom around it.