I’ve personally witnessed the rise of the barber shop in Medellín (and Envigado) for over four years. Places pop up overnight with bright, inviting signs and blue, white, and red banners and decoration.
My dad used to go to one and would rave about his “man time,” how he’d sit and have a beer while he waited for his appointment, how his barber knew exactly how to cut his hair, when he wanted to talk, and when he didn’t. It was truly his happy place to kick back.
There is a large quantity of barber shops of all sizes, styles, and prices in the city. Since I don’t regularly frequent barber shops (or even hair salons) I am not an expert on the varieties. However, I can speak for this one in Laureles that I personally trusted with my hair and that several of my friends go to and swear by.
The Unique Neighborhood Feel of Los Clásicos
Los Clásicos differs from other barber shops that I’ve seen in their unique old-school style. The entire place is furnished with hand-picked antiques. Every detail, just like every barber, has a history and has seen and heard all kinds of stories.
The place is painted dark green, which together with the wooden, antique vibes of the place, makes you feel like this place is a well-deserved heirloom your great grandfather left to his son, he to his son and he to you.
As soon as you walk through the door, you’re greeted by clients and barbers alike. The familiarity between some clients and their barbers is intriguing, and feels, hilariously at times, like the barber shop scene from ” Coming to America.”
As I sat down to wait for my appointment and spoke to the owner, “Gitana” by Willie Colón started playing, and every barber in the room smirked- the mood was set. Whether it’s salsa, jazz, blues, or cumbia the mood is always smooth and classic.
It’s also common to see barbers jamming to their headphones, so incredibly focused on the cut that you can’t help but want to put your hair in their extremely capable hands.
“A haircut shouldn’t feel like you’re worried about your barber being nervous or insecure. It shouldn’t be a ‘square’ experience, either, you want your barber to know what he’s doing and stray slightly from your comfort to suggest a better look specifically for you.
“A barber isn’t just someone who cuts your hair, he becomes a part of your circle. I cut your hair and then I cut your friends hair and, all of a sudden, I’m like ‘hey, how’s your friend?’ and I create that chain.” owner, Danny, explained. “Sit down, get on the wifi, do some work, listen to music, talk to the guys, make a trip of it.”
The Story Behind It All
I’ve interviewed enough business owners to know that the most successful ideas come from the least imaginable places. During the owner, Danny’s, visit to Medellín, his parents’ home in 2013, he looked for a way to make extra cash to spend on the weekends.
Coming from Miami for vacation, he had wanted to spend his time in the city as productively as possible and found himself out of cash with no desire to dip into his savings.
Throughout my whole interview with Danny, his Miami accent flowed through the way he told his story. He’d slip in some Spanish, saying things like
“When I started this place, I made a big deal of the opening, I built up expectativa (expectation) and put up a big pendón (a banner) outside this place,” just knowing I was following his story intently, as I, too, speak in Spanglish whenever possible.
In search of a part time job to support his vacation, his mother took him to Barrio Colombia, to a street full of hole-in-the-wall barber shops where he inquired about the possibility of working there after years of experience being a barber in the U.S, where his profession was really reputable.
Unfortunately, the pay was not nearly enough to keep Danny around, and after some frustration, and he ended up at barber shop in Premium Plaza, where he, over the next eight months got accommodated and built a reputation for himself as “that gringo with the great haircuts.” Danny with the good hair? How’s that for an epithet? No? Okay, I’ll work on it.
Eventually, he realized he could easily start his own place in this city that nested a place in his heart, train other people and expand the Danny effect.
He invested in his Barber Shop project and by June he was ready. He set up the place and had a huge opening party, offering food and free haircuts all day. (Keep an eye out because there’s another opening soon!)
Los Clásicos’ Rockstar Barbers
Los Clásicos started with three barbers. There are now seven and one manicurist/pedicurist. They’re a tight-knit family. They take breaks together, they hang out, they’ve gone camping together.
Danny makes sure they’re close, convinced that this, along with raw talent and customer service, is what makes a barber shop outlast the others.
Some of the barbers came to Danny searching for a barber shop to grow in, others he found and recognized talent in. In order to work at Los Clásicos you must go through a rigorous interview and try-out type process, where you bring in a model to show your skills.
If you’re hired, there’s an orientation and training process of beard dyes, classic styles, scissor haircuts, hot towel shaves, etc.
“We’re going to be friends,” my barber Damian said to me the minute I sat down at his station. “From now on you and me, we see each other all the time,” he smiled knowingly, “you sure you want to do this?” I nodded nervously as he cut off a long braided section of my hair and handed it to me. “Welcome to the family,” his gesture implied.
People from all sorts of backgrounds come to Los Clásicos. As much as they keep the place with a manly feel, women get their haircut there frequently (including myself) and people bring their children to get a snazzier haircut than they’d find in regular salons.
People come from all over the country, whether on business or leisure and grab at the chance to stop into Los Clásicos. For the most part, though, it’s people from Laureles and surroundings that call the barber shop home.
Danny makes an effort to emphasize that the option of English is always on the table, that they’re multicultural, bilingual, and welcoming to all, so come join the fam, fam.
Services, Products, and Pricing
Prices for services are as follows:
- Haircut 18.000 COP ($6.20)
- Beard 12.000 COP ($4.10)
- Manicure 12.000 COP ($4.10)
- Pedicure. 13.000 COP ($4.50)
They also offer a variety of products for your hair (and a miraculous- seriously, I saw photos, beard cream) starting at 15,000 COP ($5.00)
The Future of Los Clásicos
Los Clásicos has been a huge success for years, and now Danny’s ready to begin expanding. The next barber shop will be in Barrio Los Conquistadores and will have a huge opening party soon, so keep an eye out for more info on Facebook, or stop by, call in, holler, and book your appointment.