“We blend the traditional with the modern: we cut, we shave, both with a nod to tradition but our approach is more rock ‘n’ roll.” Martyn is describing his new barbers business, Brbr Bullet (pronounced Barber Bullet) at the top of Portobello Road, opposite Portobello Square.
Martyn launched Brbr Bullet in 2015 with business partner Ben and the duo are creating quite a storm in the local area with their contemporary take on barbering.
“We haven’t gone down the twiddly moustache and waistcoats route traditionally associated with barbering, we wanted to have a point of difference to other barbers, you know, we do all the traditional stuff but with a contemporary twist.”
The contemporary twist is partly reflected in the distressed interiors of the shop, which help to make the brand look established. Wooden wine crates double up as drawers for products and equipment, old floorboards are used for counters and there are rows of empty craft beer bottles and an impressive collection of British vinyl on display. “We wanted something that looked a bit industrial but with a little nod to recycling.” Martyn’s wife, Joelle Talmasse of www.breaad.com, created the look for the shop, she is an interior designer and, until recently, Martyn had been working with her designing interiors and soft furnishings for a variety of clients.
“That’s how I met Ben. My wife was brought in to do the interiors for the place where he worked, we became mates, then eventually came together and decided to set up a business together.” Originally from Southampton, Ben honed his craft over the years in “chop shops” before moving to central London and into management, but Martyn started out in hairdressing, creating looks for fashion magazines then owning a suite of five unisex salons before deciding to sell them and change direction.
“Over the last three to four years the barbering thing has exploded and big brands are getting into it again. In terms of barbering we are considered expensive and higher end, but in terms of hairdressing we are not, we are reasonably priced. We have locals who come for a special occasion but we also have a regular core of clients who come in every five weeks or so. We don’t do wet shaves every day, it’s more on the weekends when people want to treat themselves. Our most popular is probably ‘Man & Boy’, a haircut for fathers and sons.”
Aside from the barbering Martyn and Ben wanted to create a place that was unpretentious and where people felt comfortable. “We wanted to create a little hub where customers can enjoy a complimentary craft beer and join the conversation, everyone can give their two-penneth, whether it’s about politics, football, whatever.”
“We decided to set up here as the shops are very female-heavy at the moment, with the nail bars and beauty salons, so we thought we’d introduce something for the guys. This end of Portobello Road is a really cool spot, it’s friendly and familiar and it’s becoming more evident that we fit in here.”
Brbr Bullet, mens’ barbers, 357 Portobello Road, www.brbrbullet.london