Leen & Bertus : the masters of barbering in Cyprus

Leen and Bertus are the two men behind what is possibly the most famous barbershop in the world. Proud founders of Schorem Barbershop, the two men enjoy the success of an old school, male-only barbershop, located in the heart of Rotterdam city, in Holland. Specialised in traditional classic haircuts, the Ditch barbershop has become, if not the best, one of the best and most influential barbershop in the world.

Schorem is an old school «men-only barbershop». Why men only? Your philosophy of old-school haircuts cannot apply to women as well?

Of course it could, a friend of ours actually has a beautiful vintage shop in Utrecht called Madame de Pompadour who specializes in those styles, and she’s really, really busy which in a way proves our point that sometimes it’s good to specialize in a certain service or product. When we started our barbershop we wanted to create a place where a guy could be at ease amongst his peers, we wanted to bring back times gone by. Back in the days it was a normal thing to have a barbershop and a beautysalon under one roof but with separate doors because some of our business should just stay our business, there are just things ladies won’t discuss when a man is around, especially when they’re “getting’ the works done” and it works the same for us too.

Have you ever been involved with women hairstyles?

We have, and we have for many a years, we started as barbers about 30 years ago but in our country, back in those days it was almost impossible to survive doing only men’s cuts. I’ve always loved cutting women’s hair and I’m convinced it’s the classic hairstyling techniques that helped us become better barbers, in the end we just got fed up with the whole hairdressing industry and where it was heading so we decided to go back to our roots.

Why do you think classic is always in fashion? Do you always stick to old school, classic haircuts?

The word “classic” itself answers your question, just google it: “Jjudged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.” Nothing can or will ever be build without a strong foundation and that’s exactly the reason we stick to our guns… Nothing wrong with fashion but the shop we opened is as close to how things used to be, back in a time when haircuts were not about being hip or trendy but well groomed and neat.

If a customer asks for an extreme haircut, out of your usual offering, how do you react?

We’ll explain the way we work, give him advice and if after that he still wants a blue bobline with a short crown area we send him to the salon down the street which is owned by good friends of ours…

What is the most extra – ordinary haircut, a customer ever asked for? Did you ever deny a haircut to a customer?

Of course we deny haircuts, we believe you gotta listen to what a client wants and then give him what he needs, if a guy with a long, narrow face asks for a skinfaded flattop it’s the barber’s job to protect him and come with a good alternative.

How did the idea of launching your own products arise? Is your success directly affected by owning the products you use?

Our Reuzel pomade started as most of our more successful projects started… As a joke.. We thought it would be hilarious if a guy would use “REUZEL” on his hair because it’s the Dutch word for lard, pig’s fat, just as the name Schorem is kinda funny and obnoxious… In the begin days of Schorem it was really hard for us to reorder some of the more popular products from for example the United States or Australia because of taxes and customs so we decided to come out with our own product (Which turned out not to be as easy as we thought) But once the product was a fact it spread like wildfire amongst barbers and salons around the world, we really believe we made one of the best grooming products on the market and it’s made exactly the way WE wanted it to be, formulated by barbers for gentlemen worldwide…

If I would ask you to name a factor of your success, what would that be? At the age of fourteen, have you imagined you will become worldwide famous barbers?

Success is usually made out of three things: Talent, hard work and a lot of luck… We worked our asses of but we had SO MUCH fun doing it, Social Media has been a very important tool of course, Facebook was getting bigger and bigger and we polluted the world wide web with photos of our work and stories about the history of barbering in general which worked like a charm… Of course we never dreamed about becoming known even over the borders of Rotterdam, after all, it was just a small Barbershop and it still is… It was never our ambition anyway, we just wanted to have a bit of fun and that’s exactly what we did and I guess that’s the moral of the story, do what you love the best and success will come..

How did you realized at such a young age (14), that barbering is what you would like to do? Did you have a mentor?

I gave a buddy of mine a Mohican haircut at home and I was hooked, (totally screwed up the haircut by the way but never looked back) I found a mentor who taught me the basics about two years later and now 29 years later I think I almost mastered those basics, hahaha. Never stop learning.

From all the countries you have visited, in which would you say that people appreciate classic barbers the most?

Hard to say, some countries have such a long and rich history of barbering that somehow the barbershop became “a common thing” while in other countries it’s now considered a supercool, hip profession. I personally think you should just worry about the service given to your patron the rest is futile…

You had a small tour of local barber shops! What can you say about the work of the local barbers

Absolutely mind blowing… We were really impressed with the haircuts and also jealous because of the quality of the hair of the local patrons.

What are your tips to the local barbers? What would you advice them to change or improve?

You guys HAVE to raise your prices, the quality of your work is worth SO MUCH more, remember: Quality is NEVER expensive, charge what you’re worth

As barbers that create products for barbers and their customers, what would your advice be to the Cypriot barbers?

Learn about your products, be professional and give professional advice, you will be amazed how much a guy will spent on his appearance and once he’s “hooked” to a certain pomade he will be using it the rest of his life creating extra income for you and your shop. The retailing in your shop are the extras in your life, never forget that, you’re not a salesman, but it’s your responsibility to make a client leave well informed.