This Barbershop Offers Modern Takes on Classic Haircuts for Only P250
Today’s modern Filipino guys are embracing the classics. You can see it in their choice of hairstyles, as the most fashionable gents rock modern takes on classic haircuts. With the heightened appreciation for the bygone years, another men’s staple is having a resurgence. This is the neighborhood barbershop, a place where men can go to get a tight haircut, or a clean shave.
Tucked away inside 8108 Pearl Plaza is a small barbershop called Elephant’s Nook. According to owner Kenneth Pumarega, the name came from the phrase “the elephant in the room.” He says that for years, the salon has been the go to place for many men when it comes to their haircuts. “So the unasked question or the elephant in the room was why not go to a barbershop? What’s the problem in the barbershops why men choose not to go there instead? We are trying to solve that problem by making sure that we have competent barbers and with that, since this is a man’s place, you can talk about the many elephants in the room that you have that you normally don’t get to talk about with your salon stylist,” he explains.
"Since this is a man’s place, you can talk about the many elephants in the room that you have that you normally don’t get to talk about with your salon stylist."
Kenneth knew intimately the difficulty of finding barbershops or salons that could give a good haircut. “I’ve [always] been very particular about my hair, I normally hunt down barbers and stylists all over Manila, I didn’t care even if I had to pay a large amount and give them a generous tip, as long as they get my hair right,” he says. It was these experiences that prompted him to put up his own barbershop, with a goal to provide quality grooming services at affordable prices.
In July 2016, Elephant’s Nook opened its doors, and it has never looked back. “We mainly cater to students and the middle-aged working-class men. We are fortunate that we are located so close to the University of Asia and Pacific as well as Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, so a large majority of our customers are students from these schools. We want to be a part of what makes a young man grow into a proper dapper gentleman. Normally a student can only afford to have their haircut at cheaper places, but here, because of our P250 price tag for a haircut, many students can actually afford it. And they don’t just get to afford it. They actually get a haircut that fits them because of how we enhanced our barbers’ skills,” Kenneth claims.
Elephant’s Nook eschewed the usual gimmicks that barbershops offer and instead, it focused on improving and maintaining the skills of its staff and it starts out with a solid foundation and the right attitude of their barbers. “When we recruit barbers, we tend not to get the ones who has actually been in those big barbershops. We look for talent outside, mainly those who are too afraid to apply or even the ones previously rejected by the big barbershops. And the only requirement is their humility and passion for learning,” Kenneth says.
From there, Kenneth invites well-known barbers to hold workshops and skills seminars to hone the skill of Elephant Nook’s staff. One of the biggest moments of Elephant’s Nook was when JayR Mallari, the barber to NBA superstar Stephen Curry reached out to Kenneth and partnered with Elephant’s Nook for a skills development seminar which was held in the shop.
“We owe him so much of our success. By reaching out to us, he was able to give confidence to our guys, transforming them from being simple barbers from your local turo-turo, to being very competitive and service-oriented ones who are confident in their skills,” Kenneth continues.
It is that focus on skills that allows Elephant’s Nook barbers to provide a wide variety of haircuts, from classic hairstyles to modern, edgy cuts. “Some barbershops tend to concentrate on one style, so you have those who advocate classic or Schorem-inspired Haircuts with their pompadours. Others are more on the urban style of haircuts, while some are on the traditional Filipino 'gupit binata' and 'matanda' style of cuts. We can do all of those here. We also practice our salon-style scissor work and sectioning. Most barbers tend to use only clippers-over-comb, or scissors-over-comb techniques. But here, we actually try to learn different cutting styles to be able to execute the haircut better,” he explains.
Aside from the usual cut and wash service that Elephant’s Nook offers, the barbershop also has a traditional barbershop-style facial treatment using creams and scrubs which are developed specifically for men. There is also hair shaving and sculpting for those who want to rock some facial hair. Soon, Elephant’s Nook will also be offering hair coloring, with the barbers being trained by partners from Wella.
Kenneth pointed out that while Elephant’s Nook’s barbers are equipped with the skills to produce excellent haircuts, the best results come out when both barbers and customers communicate with one another. “Talk to your barber, make sure that you discuss with him what you exactly want so that the barbers can have a look and see if it will fit you or not. They’ll have to consider many things, like the shape of you face, the contours of your head, the length of your hair to name some. So that’s the basic key that you need other than making sure that you go to a barbershop who has barbers who actually know what they are doing,” he shared.
“When looking for a style, just go for whatever makes you feel great. We have customers here who are older and still fashion some really young styles like those hipster undercuts and man buns. Some even come here for mohawks and high bald fades. So it’s important to choose what you like and to consider a haircut that suits your life style. I know that there are certain limitations at times with haircuts because of school and work requirements but we can always find ways to cut your hair based on those standards without compromising too much on your desired style. For us a haircut is supposed to make you feel good, whether it’s a simple style or not, as long as you are happy about it, we’ll do our best to execute it for you,” he added.
Elephant's Nook is at 8101 Pearl Plaza, 8101 Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.