Melbourne has become home to Jordon McKenny, the Hertfordshire born barber whose award-winning Area Studios barbershop has made a big impression in little over a year.

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“At this time I was 19-years old, I had just begun to rent a chair after finishing my college course and apprenticeship. My day-to-day life was becoming repetitive.”

At the time Jordon was working in local shop Made Man, which specialised in Afro Caribbean hair and gave him the chance to sharpen up his fading and line-up skills, as well as scissor work. Fortunately his boss, a man who he considered his mentor, was open to the idea of Jordon moving down under, and their good relationship was key to that. Jordon says: “In my mind this wasn’t a major decision to make; if worst came to worst I could fly home and come back to my position at the job I was about to leave as my boss didn’t see this as quitting or leaving to find another job in a local area.”

In the Right Area

Taking the leap, Jordon moved to Australia and fortunately no return ticket was required. After working his way around a few different shops, picking up knowledge and valuable Jordon McKenny experience, he has now settled in Melbourne and opened his own barbershop Area Studios. In just a short time, it has already made its mark not only on the Melbourne barbering scene, but the Australian one as a whole – much to Jordon’s delight.

“We have just celebrated one year in business and I feel that personally and as a team we have achieved a lot. We recently took HBIA (Ha\ir and Beauty Industry Association) Small Salon of the Year award 2017 – being the first male salon to win. One of our stylists, Danny Cox, won senior stylist of the year along with the team winning first and second place in all three categories we entered.”

Impressive stuff from the Area team. But just what is the key to their success? Jordon says: “Firstly, I believe it’s the team we have and the unique skillset that each member brings. I truly believe that we have one of the most talented and versatile teams in Australia. Our clientele is so diverse; we have men and women from all backgrounds come into the shop and we strive to be able to cater for any individual and their unique requests.

“Secondly, it’s the amount of time that we allocate for our services. We spend more time than other shops on each client so as to provide them with a service that doesn’t feel rushed, which in turn allows us to give a thorough consultation, exceptional haircut, and a relaxing wash and hot towel service. We wash the clients hair at the end of the service once we have completely finished the haircut so we can remove any hair debris and the client can leave clean and fresh, that is very important for us.”

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Different Strokes

By offering a more substantial service than his competitors, Jordon and the team at Area are among an ever-increasing group of barbers making a trip to the barbershop so much more than just a haircut. While women are happy to pay significant sums for a trip to the salon, it hasn’t always been that way for men and their barbers.

“I want to change the general public’s perception of the industry,” Jordon explains. “There seems to be a massive gap in the market between hairdressing and barbering, especially when it comes down to how much we are able to charge for our time and the services we provide.

“I feel the difference can be attributed to people’s lack of understanding of what we do and our capabilities as barbers. Because of this I feel that a lot of people in our industry are undercharging and therefore undervaluing themselves. Not all barbershops offer particularly good haircuts or service for that matter. At Area Studio we strive to offer a salon quality experience and an exceptional haircut that is tailored to that individual. Considering that most premium high street salons charge over $100 for a 45 minute haircut appointment, why is it that shops specialising in men’s hair offering the same if not more than those salon cannot charge the same or even close to that amount?” It’s a problem many barbers in the UK are facing as well, as they increase their education levels and offer a higher quality service, and Jordon believes it’s not the only similarity between his native country and his new found home, saying, “I think at the moment there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two countries’ scenes, especially as we are all able to share so much of what we do through social media and take inspiration from all over the world.

“I feel as though the UK is leading the way when it comes to merging traditional barbering and contemporary men’s hairdressing. I think longer hairstyles aremaybe more popular in the UK at the moment and I find a lot of people in Australia want very short hair, that can be attributed to the different climates or maybe that Australia is always a little bit behind when it comes to styles etc., for example we’ve only recently had clients requesting crops and tapers. Generally speaking, the Europeans are the tastemakers and trend setters for our industry. “I personally believe Menspire are one of the leading influences globally in trendsetting & pushing boundaries. I also follow a lot work from American barbers though. my passion in hair has and I feel will always be with afro Caribbean hair where i started, so anyone doing that extremely well will be always be on my forefront.”

If anyone is going to help Australian barbering keep pace with their European counterparts, it’s hard not to imagine that Jordon and Area will be at the forefront. But he’s taking everything in his stride.

He tells us: “Everything up to this moment in time has been an incredible journey, but not everything has resonated just yet though. We are still in what feels like the extremely early stages, as the shop has only been open since March of 2016.

“In saying that, the team have been striving individually to reach this very point. I have dozens of memories from my life where I’m able to look back and view everything as a whole picture and tell a vivid story, beginning to end. I’m not able to step back and look at this canvas quite yet, i feel we are just getting the brushes ready.”

We can’t wait to see the finished work.

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