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Jan Heideman is owner of a barbershop in Haarlem. His barbershop is a place for everyone. With his enthusiastic attitude, excellent shaving skills and thorough knowledge on skin care, he manages to put a smile on everyone leaving his barbershop. Having a background as a sales manager, it was his passion for craftsmanship and history that pulled him towards barbering.

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contact details Jan Heideman:
Spaarnwouderstraat 72
2011AE Haarlem
The Netherlands
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Why did you decide to become a barber?

I got into barbering because of my interest in its history. I used to be a sales manager. I quit this job because I wanted to do something that involves craftsmanship. I had some interest in shaving and little by little I got to know the profession better. I began shaving at the Railway museum in Utrecht with low expectations. I expected few people to show up but I was surprised by the number of people that visited me to have a shave and eventually it was a success.
Many people combine a profession with its history: nutrition and its history, fashion and its history etcetera. I was mainly interested in grooming and its history. I was interested in the origins of grooming , where certain ideas came from and how it has changed over time. I asked myself how did shaving razors came into being? Are the straight razors better than the ones we use today? Why are we using the products we are using today? These kind of questions kept me busy and got me closer to barbering. Surprisingly, in the last hundred years not much has changed in the way we shave. There are some developments in the gear we use and there are more products to choose from. But fundamentally we still shave in the same way.

How do you think the trends will change in the future?

Many of my clients are surprised by the quality of the shave I can provide using an old fashioned straight razor. They say it is better and certainly more comfortable than shaving with a conventional razor at home. I think people are starting to value the tradition of shaving and are more and more interested in learning about it. I see for example that the double edge razor is back again together with using shaving creams and soaps instead of aerosol foams.

Can you describe the feeling you want to give your clients?

For me, barbering has three main components. The first is shaving itself. I have to be very good at that and I am working hard on perfecting my skills. The second is teaching. I try to share my knowledge with my clients on how to shave and how to care for their skin. Shaving discomfort is the result of improper shaving technique and of using the wrong products. Lastly, everyone coming into my shop should feel at ease. Everyone is my friend here in my barbershop. With these aspects I am aiming to provide a place where men can relax and feel at home while having a good shave and advice on grooming. I always express this using the words of the legendary Figaro Pasquale, a famous barber in Amsterdam. He says “I am a barber, for the beard and the soul”. Shaving is a vehicle to touch people in their soul and have a positive impact on them.

We live in a time where everything is about speed. Do you think that there is still room for craftsmanship in general and for barbering in particular?

I think because of speed in which we are all living, people are looking for those moments in which they can relax. It might sound counter intuitive but I hear from people that they enjoy traffic jams on their way back home. They see it as an opportunity to call some friends or take time to listen to their voicemail messages. I have clients that celebrate their weekends after a busy week, not by going to pubs and getting drunk, but by having a lazy morning here at my barbershop.

What was the most strange, moving or inspiring moment or person during your time as a barber?

Everyone of my clients is special and has a different background and an interesting story to tell. Having said that, I had a couple who came here. The man suffered from a muscle disease and couldn’t do much. The couple had hardly any intimate contact because of this man suffering from a severe illness. I taught his partner how to shave and for them it is now a way to have an intimate moment together. It is very special and I am privileged to be able to give them that.



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