Melville’s New Anti-Salon

I recently got my hair cut at Freedom Hair, one of the newest quirky spots on 7th Street in Melville. My review appeared this week on JHBLive. For those of you who aren’t following JHBLive yet (if you live in Joburg you should be), I’ve reposted my review below. Enjoy.

I’ve always had really long hair. I find long hair easier to deal with than short hair. Plus long hair suits me.

But there is another reason why my hair is so long: I hate going to hair salons. I have no idea why but I put off getting my hair cut for months on end, in the same way that I put off going to the dentist. I just don’t like that hair salon vibe. By the time I pluck up the courage to step into a salon, my split ends are an inch long and my mane is tangled enough to be mistaken for dreads.

A few weeks ago while wandering down 7th Street in Melville, I poked my head into Freedom Hair, at the back of a small courtyard beside the new Hell’s Kitchen whiskey bar. I was confused by what I saw. To the right was a cheerful espresso bar decorated with Time Magazine covers, with a smiling barista behind the counter. At the back was a bearded, tattooed man standing at a retro barber chair, cutting a dude’s hair.

The barista and the bearded barber greeted me warmly. Grunge rock played in the background.

“So this is a coffee shop and a barber shop?” I asked.

“I do women’s hair too,” said the bearded barber.

Boyden Instagram

Boyden the bearded barber.

I was intrigued by the idea of getting my locks cut by a bearded, tattooed man – while sipping good coffee – in a rockabilly-themed barbershop that in no way resembles a hair salon. A couple of weeks later I found myself sitting in that retro barber chair, ready for my first anti-salon haircut.

When I arrived at Freedom Hair for my cut, bright and early on Tuesday morning, Lucky the smiling barista made me coffee. Freedom Hair sells coffee from Sihle’s Brew, a Joburg coffee-roasting company that roasts a unique African blend and also trains young baristas like Lucky.

Lucky serving coffee

Lucky serves up a perfectly brewed americano.

I sipped my americano and chatted with Boyden Barnardo, the bearded barber, about Freedom Hair.

Boyden is more than a barber, as it turns out. He nearly got kicked out of beauty school for doing too many mohawks and electric blue dye jobs. Today those wacky styles have become Boyden’s trademark. Boyden, who grew a beard before beards became hipster, also specialises in facial hair.

Boyden Freedom Hair

Our pre-cut consultation.

After working for years out of his parents’ house in Parkhurst, amassing clients via word of mouth, Boyden has finally opened his own shop in Melville. He hopes to combine his passions for hair, coffee, and tattoos; people already come into the shop asking for tattoos and Boyden hopes to bring on a tattoo artist soon.

Freedom Hair swag

There’s a lot to look at in Freedom Hair, another reason why I prefer it to conventional salons.

Boyden massaged my scalp while Rob Zombie played on the stereo – a strangely relaxing combination. He washed my hair and gave me a treatment. I was suspicious: In the past I’ve paid extra for “treatments” that have prompted me to leave the salon and rush home immediately to re-wash my hair. Not this time though. I have no idea what Boyden treated me with but it was fantastic.

Then Boyden cut and blow-dried my hair – quickly, efficiently, and exactly the way I wanted it. I kept it conservative this time, with a basic cut and some layers. But now that I’ve found the ultimate anti-salon I plan to be more daring. Next time I’m going for an electric blue streak.

Heather before cut

Before. (Photo: Boyden Barnardo)

Heather after cut

After. (Photo: Boyden Barnardo)

My haircut was provided courtesy of Freedom Hair. A normal women’s cut and blow-dry starts at R550.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Sunshinebright January 30, 2015 at 4:51 am

    Luv-er-ly!! If I was living in Joburg area, this is the place for me! BTW, what is a barista?

    • Reply 2summers January 30, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      A barista is a fancy name for a person who makes fancy coffee drinks in a trendy coffee shop 🙂

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