A fixture on Crown Street for 25 years, Matt and Cheryl Clarke have raised a family and run their business from the same location. Look for the wall mural on the terrace opposite Crown Street school next time you need your hair done.
Matt Clarke jokes that he and his partner Cheryl have raised their three kids in their hair salon on Crown Street. Not only that, but they now regularly cut the hair of two generations of customers families, people who started coming years ago and whose kids now come too.
“I always say we are Noah’s Ark of Hairdressing,” says Matt. “We do two of everything. Bankers, Supreme Court judges, out of work musicians and IT start up entrepreneurs.”
He is being self effacing of course. Many well known celebrities from the world of music, film, finance and law have their hair cut in the unisex salon on Crown Street with the retro barber’s chairs, on the ground floor to the three level terrace which also serves as the family home.
“We have a very eclectic clientele and we have a very close relationship with them,” says Matt. “Many of them have become our friends, and doing their hair is just a great catch up. It’s become just like a private club, although we are looking for new members all the time!”
The configuration of salon and home makes the Barberia unique, as does its longevity as a business which has a real connection to its community. It has also influenced the economics, and in the customer’s favour.
“Because our overheads are low, because we also live here, we are able to keep our prices down,” says Matt. “We don’t have the bells and whistles of some salons, like cheap champagne and receptionists, because we just want to do a good job and establish those relationships.”
The Barberia is not in the “business of forcing people to come back early so we can enrich ourselves” and neither is it interested in “up-selling” to clients with product or services. “Our haircuts grow out really well, and we pride ourselves on that,” says Matt.
“We have people come back after six months saying that people are still complimenting them on their hair. “That might be a bad business model for us but on a personal level that is very satisfying.
This article originally appeared in Urban Village