Illustration ©Amy Stace 2017 Barberette / All rights reserved

Prague’s First Gender Neutral “Barberette” Opens Žižkov Salon

She started a barbershop revolution in London in 2012; now Czech-born Klára Váňová is bringing her unconventional barbering techniques to Prague

These days in Prague you can’t shake a comb without coming across a newly opened barbershop offering whiskey and cigars along with the crewcuts. But what if you’re a woman who wants a short haircut minus the testosterone? Or a man who doesn’t want to come out of the barber’s chair looking ready for military service?

Klára Váňová, the founder of Barberette seeks to revolutionize the Prague haircut.

“Equality has been discussed on many different levels. Why do women still pay several times more for the same haircut as men do? Barber and hairdressing services still have many stereotypes to be broken,” says Ms. Váňová who opened her Žižkov barbershop last month.

As one of the pioneering gender neutral barbers in the world, Váňová has been featured widely in the international media ever since launching the Barberette concept in London in 2012.

Like its big sister, Barberette Prague specializes in short hair for all; Váňová is trained in Afro and Asian barbering, has worked extensively with gay and transgender clients, and does a mean beard trim. In her salon, everyone pays the same price for a treatment, regardless of gender.

Ms. Váňová recently spoke with us about why the Czech capital is in need of her services:

When did you open your barber shop in Prague?

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I was excited to open Barberette Prague on October 24, 2017.

What is the objective of your HitHit campaign?

It’s been important for me to have funded both shops from my own savings and income. Because of the work and the bureaucracy here in Prague, all took much longer than planned, I have run out of money to create a welcoming waiting space with refreshment corner. Hence the top price on our HitHit – adopt a waiting room.

Do you go back to London regularly and maintain your shop there?

Yes, I do. I just came back from London a couple weeks ago. I go there not just for the business side, but also to give haircuts and catch up with our regular clients who supported me from the beginning. It’s always so lovely to see them.

Where did you grow up in the Czech Republic?

I was born in Chomutov, then lived in Prague for almost a year after my A levels. I then moved to London and trained at the famous barber academy MK.

Do you think salons in the Czech Republic often push women into hairstyles they don’t want?

It’s not just the Czech Republic; it’s a global issue that we faced in London, too. Not all hairdressers are like that, but telling your female client that she cannot have a men’s haircut is rude and unprofessional. You are the hairdresser and it’s your job to provide the service the client asks for.

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What are your most popular cuts?

At Barberette we specialize in sharp, sculpted shapes but we cover everything from quiffs to long hair, pin-ups, flat-tops to razor shaves, decorative clipper work to coloring. Most importantly, we give you the cut you want: we have no boundaries or pre-set ideas about what is best for you.

 

How is business so far in Prague? Has the local community shown interest?

So far it has been steady and I’m glad to say word of mouth is spreading. The shop is on Husitská street in Žižkov. I’m loving seeing how it’s changing and the fact I’m part of it. Because I speak fluent English and am trained in all types of hair, I already have about 30% international clientele, which is great. Some of my London clients are also visiting while on their holidays.

Can you give a sample of your pricing?

Our prices are neutral, which means that you pay for the type of service, not whether you are a man or a woman. We allow enough time and sometimes more to make sure the haircut and styling are perfect. [Note: Services are all under 1,000 CZK and include fringe cuts, kid haircuts, and a specially priced cut for “low-earners”.]

How is Prague different from London in terms of salons and trends?

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Well, from what I can observe, Prague and all towns in Europe are following London’s style and the UK is following the US. Don’t forget Russia, they have some amazing barbers there. European hair fashion is borrowed from old styles from Afro, Turkish, and Latino barbers but there’s not much credit for that which makes me sad. We should never forget the roots of hair design!

Are you really the first gender-neutral barber in the Czech Republic and the world?

Yes! There are not so many around the world and I believe I was one of the pioneers.

Barberette is now offering Christmas gift vouchers.

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