We spoke with Ghanum Taylor, a partner of Tommy Gun's Barbershop originally from Canada, now hailing a global presence recently opening their first shop in New Zealand (about to open a second), on the story of the brand, the difference between a service and an experience, and their stance on the clean shaven or bearded debate.
TOMMY GUN'S PHILOSOPHY
Tommy Gun's set out to reinvigorate and bring back the shine of a traditional Barbershop experience ultimately becoming a benchmark for other barber shops. They offer cuts, shaves, beard care and a range of sides such as a detox facial and brow wax with each client looked after with a premium experience consisting of a beverage on the house, in-mirror TV's, a scalp massage, and a hot towel finish.
WHY TOMMY GUN'S? TELL US THE STORY BEHIND THE BRAND (AND THE NAME)
It’s actually one of those stories where we ended up where we did more by good luck than by design! We had the drawings for the shop environment ready to go, and they very much reflected a 1930s Chicago vibe. Our first location was already under construction, and we had a deadline for the signage contractor to provide them with a name and logo, so we got a few people together and locked ourselves in a room until we came up with something we liked. Eventually someone started throwing out names of things associated with 1930s Chicago, and Tommy Gun’s was one of them. As soon as we heard it we just thought it had a great ring to it so we locked it in!
AND TO THE REST OF THE TEAM, ANY SPECIAL MENTIONS (VIRTUES AND VICES) YOU'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE US TO?
At Tommy Gun’s we’re a global team from start to finish and that really is our beauty. Being founded in Canada and with strong brand association with Chicago we really bring a real mix of people, talent, cultures and personalities. On the floor at any one time you have the United Nations with barbers from all over the world and each has their own personal journey. We have a philosophy of hiring good people first and great barbers second and this really stands out as all of our barbers we find are just legends in their own toolkit first and foremost. We want people who join Tommy Gun’s to want to come on our journey and they all buy into the grand vision of delivering the ultimate experience to men of NZ.
YOU SAY 'YOU'RE NOT JUST GETTING A SERVICE, YOU'RE GETTING AN EXPERIENCE', WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO?
At Tommy Gun’s, we truly believe in giving our customers the ultimate barbershop experience – we live to make you feel confident, proud and well-groomed. It’s all the little things that make Tommy Gun’s different – like the free drink on arrival, the fact that you can watch TV while getting your haircut, our extensive range of services from traditional shaves, beard maintenance, haircuts, brow waxes and more as well as a comprehensive men’s retail offering with over 200 products to maintain your style at home. I guess what we’re saying is, don’t just expect a cut from Tommy Gun’s, you can expect so much more…
WHAT DREW YOU TO T&D?
We love our community and we listen to them. We know our kiwi audience love Triumph & Disaster and we do too. In all our markets we enter into we always look to local brands that are successful and assess if they are brands we believe we can work well with and are aligned. Once we opened the discussion with Dion and the team we were super impressed with their story and felt the alignment from day one as we felt we were on very similar journeys. We also love working with good buggers who are like family, that’s the feeling we got from the Triumph & Disaster team.
HOT TOPIC, CLEAN SHAVEN OR BEARDED?
Personally I run a shiner shave and a beard so I have a foot in both camps. We love it all but we really love a good beard especially when we’re able to treat it well and help our clients with their journey. There is so much more to beards than most expect and we help guys really learn to appreciate their facial furniture. We’re introducing the kiwi male to the world of beard scrubs, washes, oils and balms and once they try it they minds are blown. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a customer walk out with no more beard itch, a perfectly hydrated beard and something soft the better half can finally sign off on and enjoy.
TAKE US DOWN MEMORY LANE, WHAT'S BEEN THE BIGGEST HAIR/GROOMING FAIL?
I don’t know if we can really say what is a hair or grooming fail. A couple of years ago, you probably wouldn’t see a lot of guys rocking a mullet but now they are everywhere (…and we love a mullet)! In saying that though, home haircuts or the bowl cut your mum gave you at the kitchen table don’t always turn out how you’d hope, so leave it to us experts.
IF YOU HAD TO PICK, WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE T&D PRODUCT?
If we had to pick and that is a cruel thing to have to do. But we are absolutely loving the Rock n Roll Face Scrub, the moment that goes on for one of our detox facials the clients are spinning out. It is so raw and fresh and is giving our men an incredible experience and we can’t say enough about it. Well done guys we love it.
WHAT CITY BEST RESONATES WITH TOMMY'S? WE WANT TO VISUALISE THE AESTHETIC...
Well, obviously after hearing the story behind the name, it’s Chicago. The old school brick, traditional barber chairs and red elements are all a nod to Chicago from the 30’s. The design has evolved a lot since then though, with more technology integrated into the fit-out and a mix of modern materials and finishes for some contrast. We also love to think that every new shop we open combines that Chicago vibe with some local flavour from our amazing team members and customers. It’s certainly been the case with our first two NZ shops!
WE'RE BIG ON MOMENTS OF CEREMONY AND THE HABITS THAT COME OUT OF IT. WHAT CEREMONIAL RITUAL HAS TRANSFORMED YOUR LIFE?
Funny you ask this question, in all honesty it is the regular experience of sitting in the barber chair and getting the full once over, head shave, beard colour, trim, line up, facial and just a good old chat with my barber. It’s something special having some me time and if it’s once a week, a month or just whenever I just love the feeling of getting fresh. Personally I believe the more hot towels I can be pampered with the better I feel and walk away feeling a million bucks.
AND LASTLY, AT T&D HEAD OFFICE WE END OUR WEEKLY MEETINGS WITH WORDS OR A SLOGAN OF WISDOM, WE'RE NOW PASSING THE BATON TO YOU...
How we do anything is how we do everything!
Check out Tommy Gun's barber Shop online here