| Shahminan Ibrahim |
FOR Azhar Ahmadkhan, the idea of starting a business is doing it unconventionally. It is not running a cafe or a boutique but a barbershop!
On the Saturday morning that we met, customers were yet to come and the shop was still quiet except for the slightly blaring music, coming from the record player spinning song by U2.
A quick glance around the small yet stylish room, hung high up on the retro brick wall there is the iconic poster of the famous Argentinean, Che Guevera, and to the left of it, a small black & white poster of an English punk rock band The Clash.
There in front facing the mirror, is a couple of classic brown-coloured barber chair, a record player sitting at the corner and sitting high up on the shelves, a couple of poster featuring classic hairstyles.
Azhar, known by quite many as Jae, says the inspiration of the design of his barber shop comes from his adoration for the classic American style barbershop. Initially, he had wanted to open a barber shop as a retirement plan, but since the retirement age of 55-60 is still reasonably far away, he says it is a retirement plan made rather early.
Opening a barbershop is one thing but to actually be able to cut hair is another matter altogether. Azhar, a father of three boys, has picked up the hair cutting skill mainly from the Internet. In addition to that, he was also taught the basic of hair cutting by a local salon owner who he got in touch with through a friend.
Calling his shop ‘Chaps & Rebels’, he started the barbershop from his own home nearly two years ago. Since July 2014, the shop has moved to its current location in Kiulap and business is slowly yet steadily picking up.
Currently, the stylish barber shop is only operating with two staffs on a part-time basis which makes them understandably super busy when customers are literally queuing up and knocking on the door. Their operating time is from 8pm until 11pm from Tuesday to Friday and from 11am until 8pm during the weekend. Expectedly, customers, which include stylish youngsters who want slick and stylish hairstyle, flock over on Saturdays and Sundays.
Services at Chaps & Rebels are not limited to hair cutting only, but also include shaving for just $10. Hair cutting on the other hand, starts from $15 for adults and $12 for kids aged between seven to 15 years old.
Being a unique barbershop, most of the equipments that Azhar and his staff use are purchased online or whenever they are travelling abroad.
The 43-year-old, who is a big fan of the 1980’s band Sigue Sigue Sputnik, says it is his dream to see his barbershop become a premier destination for gents’ haircuts and grooming in the country.
As we conclude our meeting just as the first customer showed up at the door, Azhar gave a piece of advice to aspiring people who wants to make a leap into business, “Take risk. Move out of your comfort zone. Don’t get stuck in the norm.”
Judging from the determination and how this new entrepreneur has gone far in a relatively short period of time, there is no doubt that Chaps & Rebels will go places.