Barber Spotlight: Michael Haar
Haar & Co Barbershop
45 Christopher Street, New York, New York
This shop draws on classic elements of art deco style, from the vintage relics in its windows to the classic chrome-detailed chairs. Michael, who wears a crisp white jacket, and is clean-shaven but for his mustache, appears to have walked out of the period himself as if we’ve somehow traveled through time.
How long have you been a barber?
I’ve been a barber for 11 years. I’ve cut mostly in New York and a couple of guest spots in London.
What made you decide to open a shop?
The opportunity arose, and things had shifted, and I was growing tired of working for someone else. I decided it was time for the next step.
How did you find the location?
I was looking for probably half a year in different locations; a lot of options came up on the east side, which were a little too far from the subway. I came across this one [on Christopher Street] at the beginning of the year. It was a little too much, so I held off at first, but then reached back out to the landlord, and he was willing to work with me, so I said, “Okay, let’s do this.”
How did you get into cutting hair?
I just thought it was cool. I knew I didn’t want to do something that involved working behind a computer because I wasn’t very tech-y, and I started cutting my friends’ hair, and my hair, shaving my grandfather’s hair, so it just sort of came together. I went to a barber school on West 29th Street and it clicked. I started apprenticing and working in shops. I love it because it’s a trade that will never be replaced by a computer. There’s no app for it; it’s still a human-to-human interaction, and it’s so custom. You can’t get a robot to do that.
We need it for emotional stability now more than ever. [A salon] is what’s referred to as a third place: It’s not your home, it’s not your office; it’s a third place, somewhere that doesn’t take a lot to become a member of, to exchange ideas with other people. Sociologists talk about the need for third places to continue. You go to a bar to get a drink, or a barbershop to get a haircut, but there are a lot of extras that you’re getting in those environments that we take for granted.
Where are you from originally?
Queens (if you couldn’t tell). People say that my accent pops up with certain words. I’m a fourth generation New Yorker, and my family’s lived in every borough except Staten Island (no disrespect to Staten Island).
What do you like most about being a barber?
It’s very tranquil for me, especially shaving, which is what got me into barbering. I guess I like creating something that wasn’t there before; it’s like taking an ice cube and sculpting it. I also love laughing with people and making them happy. I used to work street fairs in the city with my father, selling things, like the “As seen on TV” products, and I got really into that carnival barker kind of thing. It’s a pleasing human interaction, but also there’s a rhythm with cutting. It’s like a chef: When they're in the kitchen with a lot of things going on, and they’re under pressure, they say that’s when they’re at their best, and excel at their work. When I’m not in the shop I’m a little different.
Follow Haar & Co at https://www.instagram.com/haarandcobarbershop/