Remuera Barber Shop is on the one hand traditional with its red, white and blue stripes, fast throughput, no appointments necessary policy and very well priced cuts. But there the similarity ends, as new owners Emily Page and Cara Christie breathe fresh life into the shop.
You've recently taken over as owners of Remuera Barber Shop. How does that feel?
Emily: Like we're finally real grown-ups, haha. But seriously - with Ross retiring it was the end of an era. However at the same time it's also an amazing feeling to be business owners. We have had so much support, advice and encouragement from our friends in Remuera, neighbouring businesses and our clients...we really feel like part of the community now.
Emily, you've worked here for almost seven years, and Cara might also be a familiar face to some, having worked here a few years ago. Is this where you both met?
Cara: We actually trained together, and had our first hairdressing jobs together too.
Did you ever imagine the two of you would end up owning a shop?
Emily: We've had lots of chats over a "few" beers - the future, guys, travel, kids - but this was never one of those tipsy conversations...business ownership never came up.
Cara: Yes, we've had many grand ideas! So when, in the sober light of day we realised that becoming snowboard instructors in Switzerland was probaby never going to happen, we jumped at the opportunity to buy the shop when it came up. We are rapt with how it has turned out.
Do you have plans to change anything?
Cara: We have already got a new range of hair products in, which we're really excited about. It's flying off the shelves! And we are looking at extra services like cut-throat shaving. Watch this space!
Is it unusual for two females to work in a barber shop, let alone own one?
Emily: Well we like to think we're unique...but no, it's not that unusual. Many Auckland barbershops are owned by women.
Cara: Barbering has made a real comeback and it's definitely not just a man's game. Some of the best work I've seen has been produced by females.
Had you both always wanted to be in the hair cutting business?
Emily: I had an after-school job in a salon and that sealed the deal for me.
Cara: No, I had intended to continue as a freelance hair and makeup artist for film and TV, but when my visa ran out whilst doing my OE I needed a job that paid cash (shhh!) and it happened to be a barbering job. From that I realised I could work Monday to Friday and keep my weekends free for partying...although these days I keep the weekends free for my children!
Do you both have children?
Cara: Yes I have two. My son Tyla is 6 and my daughter Kendall is four, and they go to school and kindy in Avondale, where we live. There's a bit of juggling to make it work, but so far so good.
Emily: My daughter is now 21 and studying to be an early childhood teacher.
What makes this little barber shop so incredibly busy and popular?
Cara: Us, obviously! Haha. Although probably more the fact that we are in a great location with easy parking.
Emily: We have excellent staff who are just as comfortable cutting the hair of a crying baby, school kids and teens, right through to our elderly clients. We believe the key to a successful shop is familiarity with our clients and consistency of service and standards. All of which we have!
Who else works here?
Emily: Apart from us we have two excellent barbers, the two English "lads" - Matt, from Chester, and James, from Brighton.
Do you cut hair for each other? And do you offer women's haircuts in the shop?
Emily: We do cut each other's hair. Unfortunately we both have wispy, fine, fluffy hair...
Cara: ...yes but the silver lining to that is it only takes a few minutes!
Emily: And yes, we absolutely offer women's cuts - we are both trained hairdressers.
What's one of the more challenging things in the barbering business?
Cara: Sometimes toddler haircuts can be challenging! We often need to combine hairdressing with contortionism to get the desired result, especially if they are on mum's knee. Although after 19 years in the trade, we've learned a few tricks!
Emily: We've installed free wifi too. Distraction is definitely the way to go!
What are some things people might be suprised to know about you?
Emily: I love to cook, cheese is my chocolate and I adore French vodka!
Cara: I grew up on a farm and attended a school with only 8 students, and I skipped the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games when they were held here. Oh, I've also eaten buffalo testicles at a restaurant in Slovenia - just one of many adventures I had during my five years travelling the world!
Remuera Barber Shop
405 Remuera Road
Ph: 09 522 4557
Photos by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson. This story was first published in the July/August 2017 issue of The Hobson magazine.