One from the archives for you today – I’ve dug this interview out from Barber Connect 2017, when I met with Dutch barber Gio to find out more about the infamous salon Schorem Barbier. Gio was able to give me a first-hand account of life at one of the most interesting barbershops out there, as well as the story of his own career.
“I started twenty years ago, when I was fifteen. I went into hairdressing because I was always colouring my hair and doing crazy things with it. I always had the thought in my mind that I really wanted to gain a lot of experience.”
Like a lot of barbers, Gio is able to pinpoint the precise moment that he fell in love with cutting hair and realised that it could be a satisfying career.
“I loved the job so much after my first experience as an apprentice, with an old woman whose hair I needed to wash. She gave me a good tip and it made me so happy as a 15-year-old guy. I fell in love with that feeling of being given something for your talent.
“As I turned to hairdressing school, I soon saw that there are a lot of women but not many men in the industry. I had a bit of luck because there was a barber at that school teaching scissor over comb, and then clipper over comb. Then I saw people on TV with the classic pomps, James Dean style: pretty much Gentleman cuts. I loved that. I worked on my skills to do these cuts. The classics always come back.”
These classic gentlemen’s cuts have become the defining aesthetic of Schorem, where the barbers work hard to bring back some of the more traditional cuts. This involves hiring talented professionals to execute 12 specific cuts that are featured on the Schorem posters. It’s a tactic that seems to be working for them, and Gio has been lucky enough to see the shop experience intense growth.
“It’s unbelievable how much this business has grown. It’s amazing, so many talented people. Everyone adds something different, and I think the experience I’ve had with hairdressing helped me be the barber that I am now.”
Before joining Schorem, Gio lived and worked in Germany for ten years. He began to feel restless and wanted to return to Holland – but he also wanted to find something that would give him purpose once he got there. “I wanted a good thing, something where I could still learn. To work with someone that I could really look up to. That’s my drive. I thought I’d just send a message and see if there’s a spot at Schorem. I got talking with one of their original crew members and had such a strong, passionate conversation. I applied for a job, wrote a letter to Leen and started emailing every week.”
It took a few weeks, but ultimately Gio’s persistence paid off and he was able to combine his return to Holland with an exciting new job.
“History was made for me, and now I’m almost two and a half years at Schorem. Every day is a new day, and every day is a good day. I’ve been there in hectic times, with a waiting line from 30-60 people out the front of the door. Especially in the summer months, it’s crazy.
“It’s a kind of pressure, but it’s also a nice thing. Right now, two and a half years later, you can see that the barbershop has met the vision of what they wanted. It’s what a barbershop should be, without the hype.
“They were there at the right time, had a load of luck and did a real good job for everybody. Now everybody gets a piece of the pie and we’re all enjoying it. It’s something that I’m proud to be a part of: I can walk with a smile.”
For some barbers it might be difficult to imagine leaving a shop like Schorem, but for Gio it doesn’t represent the limits of his ambition. “I’m not going to be old in Schorem: this is not my end station. I’ve always been honest about that. I think there will be a time in my life when I want to move on, grow old and look back.”
Working at Schorem will certainly give Gio a lot to reflect back on once he’s old and grey; in many ways, Schorem is part of a transformative movement in barbering. It’s about a lot more than bringing back classic cuts: it’s about providing a sense of community and celebrating the craft of barbering.
Want to learn more about Schorem? Read about their work, their products and their training on the website – or view Bertus and Leen’s channel ‘Project X’ for an educational series featuring 12 of the world’s top barbers. You can also get more tips and tricks from the huge range of barbers featured on my page: just follow Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.
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