Until a month ago, that is. That’s when Aselya Norubaeva and her sister Jana opened their Gentlemen’s Barber Shop in Cherng Talay.
Aselya, who was born in Kyrgyzstan but brought up mostly in Russia, worked in Phuket in the tourism business for two years but could see no future in it.
“I was worried I was going to spend the rest of my life like this,” says the cheerful 23-year-old. She and Jana, 28, considered opening a beauty salon or a Thai massage place, but then a friend said, “You know, one thing Phuket doesn’t have is a Western barber.”
Aselya happily admits that she has no background in barbering beyond shaving her grandfather from the age of 12, with a straight razor.
“Of course I never cut him – he’s my grandfather!” she says, scornful at the very suggestion.
The sisters did serious research on the internet, and then spent B500,000 on renting a shop, putting in a classic checkerboard floor, three traditional chairs and some mirrors, and then made their wisest decision: hiring hairdresser On, from Chiang Rai.
There was a bit of luck involved here. On had been working as a hairdresser in Bangkok but when the floods came last year business did the opposite. It dried up.
She and her partner moved to Phuket, where he got a hotel job, and On went into men’s barbering with Aselya and Jana.
Cheerful and chatty, she delivers a haircut just as you want it, and the shampoo that follows in plain luxury, with scalp and neck massage adding to a fine experience.
The shop provides other services, including pedicure and manicure, wet and dry shaves and hair colouring.
Aselya and Jana did consider waxing (essential for displaying one’s ripped muscle in the Muay Thai ring) but there was not much call for it in Cherng Talay, so the waxing room may now become a place for body massage.
But first, Aselya wants to install small TVs in front of each barber chair, with individual remotes so that customers can tune to their favourite sport while being barbered. There’s free wifi and newspapers for those waiting to be shorn.
The shop, in Bangtao Place, is open seven days a week. To book a haircut call 076 369 811. For more details, see phuketbarbershop.com.