Rowdy Barbershop: Reviving Craftsmanship & Community
Paul Konradi opened Rowdy Barbershop last winter as a place where men could enjoy the precise grooming techniques and sense of community that define traditional barbershops. Located on Kollwitzstraße—a street in Berlin that’s known for its charming shops, restaurants and cafes—the business greets its customers with a large white sign featuring serif font and an iconic helix of red, white, and blue stripes: the barber’s pole. Paul chose the downstairs location because it felt more isolated, like you could step out of the world we know, and into a new one.
“The idea was to create something besides the world outside, to go down into a new space with a new atmosphere. This is similar to the barbershop housing of the past. In the 50’s and 60’s, you could come for your wellness treatments, take your time, and socialize... When a father took his son to the barbershop for the first time, it was a way to initiate him into manhood.”
Paul moved to Berlin two years ago with the intention of starting his own business. A friend of Paul’s mentioned how his friend in Moscow had begun a traditional barbershop. Interested, he contacted this friend-of-a-friend for more information about the trade. Additionally, Paul conducted lots of research online, looking at countless articles and images, and absorbing the stories told by barbers and their customers alike. With all this research, Paul gained a deep understanding of the history and methods behind barbershops.
Paul looked around Berlin for something comparable, and found nothing. So, he thought to himself, “If you cannot find something like this, why not do it yourself?” With that, Rowdy Barbershop was born, offering everything the modern gentleman could want. With hot towel, straight razor, and close shaves, precision haircuts, scalp refreshments, and more, men can commune with a heritage of masculinity: man as refined, polished, confident, and deliberate.
“At Rowdy, we show the new man—the stylish man—how it’s done… how a haircut should be, the perfection of it. I think 99.9% of our customers are satisfied. They’re coming back and that’s a really good sign. We need more barbers, so it means business is growing.”
Paul says one of the things he loves the most about owning a business is the relationship he has with his staff and customers, seeing them as a kind of family. He’s always curious to know what brought a new customer into Rowdy Barbershop: was it their website, street signage, Google reviews, an article—or something else? According to Paul, many of the customers are savvy tourists who’ve explicitly sought out a traditional barbershop. And, social media is playing a key role in this.
“A lot of customers are coming from social media. We’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare—all the possible accounts, all the possibilities. You have to be everywhere in order to give people the opportunity to see you and to find you. Now, it’s really taking off. Foursquare, for example, they’re getting new categories like “Barbershop.” A few years ago, it wasn’t there.”
In addition to their wellness services, Rowdy Barbershop have also added branded products to their offering. Now, they have eight different items, all created with the barbers’ input. They initially began with two hair styling products: one of them gives the hair a strong hold with a matte effect and the other gently contours, adding shine. These can also be mixed together. As time went on, demand grew for scented beard oils. So, Rowdy Barbershop responded by creating their own line.
“People with beards have to use beard oil every day after they shower to give it enough oils, which get washed away. When we started our oil line, we made three oils: orange, sandalwood, and mint. In the last month, we started to make more from people’s requests. Someone would ask for rosemary while another would ask for sage, and so on. Now, we can offer our customers six scents.”
Paul says Rowdy Barbershop’s customers began asking if they could pay using their cards right away. Many of the tourists, from the U.S.A. and from England, for example, are used to card payments. When they first opened, the process of getting internet for the shop was delayed by two months. Therefore, they needed a mobile payment solution immediately. Paul found SumUp via a simple Google search.
“I’m 100% satisfied, really. I’m recommending it to all my friends who might be interested. We make transactions and there’s never a problem. I think now the majority of the payments at Rowdy Barbershop are card payments.”