The Nomad Barber travels the world, but Berlin always brings him back.

 

The most well-travelled man in barbering is trekking somewhere in Patagonia when we try to make contact. Consisting of everything from the southern section of the Andes Mountains to the largest ice fields outside of the Antarctic, it’s one of the most unforgiving places on Earth. So, frankly, it’s no surprise to learn that Miguel Gutierrez, better known as The Nomad Barber, is there – he’s not afraid of a challenge.

BarberNV last spoke with Miguel way back in issue four when he had just opened the doors to his Berlin branch, the second in the Nomad brand after his first in London. So with our trip to Germany this issue, what better time to check in with Miguel and see how his Berlin barbershop is coming along.

 

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When you’re burning the candle at both ends, travelling the world and trying to run two successful barbershops in two different countries, a minor hiccup can have big repercussions. So when it’s a big hiccup…

“The past year has been crazy,” Miguel tells us. “A few months after the opening of the Berlin store, we were given three months to vacate the original London location. I never dreamt of having to open two stores within the space of six months but it had to be done. I came back and opened up the shop again further down Brick Lane.”

Having survived the challenges thrown up by the sudden closure and re-opening, Miguel got back to what he loves most.

He says: “I put together a long waited itinerary for a new set of Nomad Barber videos which I’m currently filming [hence the trekking through South America] and I put the last pieces together for our upcoming product range launching in 2018.” So just a typical packed year for Miguel!

 

Choosing Germany

Keeping his feet planted firmly in Europe are his shops in London and Berlin. London makes sense – it’s a fashion capital of the world with a vibrant hairdressing scene and is the capital of Miguel’s home country. But why Berlin?

“I went over for a pop-up a few years ago,” Miguel explains. “As always I took my camera to take photos of barbershops.

“The only problem? No barbershops. So a year later I met some really good people there and we decided to collaborate to open the store. It’s been a difficult time with lots of people coming and going – with it being abroad it’s not for everybody and German barbers are hard to come by.”

While we’ve seen the progress happening in the German barber scene through events such as the International Barber Awards held in Nuremberg and with a German coming second, Miguel feels it hasn’t yet reached the same standard as some of its older brothers.

He says: “It’s definitely young, but for sure it’s growing. They’ve started to have their own events while it’s not the same as the UK or the USA, they are on a solid path.”

 

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NMD BLN

Miguel is helping grow the barbering scene in Berlin with his second Nomad barbershop. Located in the creative hub of Kreuzberg, an up-and-coming area popular with the artsy, young professional crowd, it aims to offer not only the best haircut, but also the best coffee in Berlin.

The aesthetic of the shop is perfectly suited to its stunning surroundings, with Miguel integral to its design.

He says: “We really played on the current layout being exposed brick. We used architects to basically formulate a plan based on my ideas. We used plywood from shipping crates to create workstations, vintage polished factory lights, and lots of imagery from my travels, with a neutral colour palette around the shop – lots of blacks, browns, and greys.”

Berlin is a city popular with fleeting visitors so it’s no surprise that the staff can come and go as well, with Miguel saying they “have a lot of travellers coming through Berlin, mixed with a backbone of full timers.

“It’s very laid back there and we try to keep egos out and good vibes in. You don’t have to be an Instagram famous barber to work with our brand. You just have to be a good, loyal, and nice person.”

While many barbershops offer their clients a drink – be it coffee or alcohol – few manage to draw in almost as much custom from their additional services as they do from their barbering, but it’s clear that Miguel and his team have taken the time to do it right. And with Berliners mad for the black stuff, it’s a smart decision.

“Clients absolutely love the amazing coffee we serve,” he says. “And it works well for bringing customers in for either business. It’s a welcoming starting point for customers to come in and be offered a coffee or tea. Sometimes clients find it nerve-wracking walking into a new place, but in Berlin they are greeted like they are in any other coffee store first.”

 

Future

Customer care and comfort is at the heart of Nomad Berlin, but while the clients may love the relaxing atmosphere, Miguel admits it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows from his side.

“To be honest, it’s very stressful running shops. Managing so strong, creative, and sometimes large, egos can be draining mentally.”

But he’s always open to ideas and the Nomad brand is set to expand sometime in the future.

Miguel says: “Right now we are looking at the possibility of two stores in the next year but nothing is set in stone. I don’t want to have a huge chain. Not right now, possibly in five years. But barbershops will hit a point in the next few years where they will all start to become the same thing. I believe it’s grown way too fast for us all to come out safely at the other side, but we will see. I’m just happy to see how far it’s come in the current climate.”