CNN: Nomad barber — The world’s most adventurous haircuts


(CNN) Trying to recall the most unusual place Miguel Gutierrez set up his stool and offered a haircut during his travels is easy for the man known as the Nomad Barber.

“Kurdistan in northern Iraq, we were like 20 minutes from the Iran border and to get there, you have to go through 12 checkpoints,” he says.

Though footfall was limited in the remote region, he still managed to give haircuts to some locals.

That was just one stop on a 12-month journey he undertook in 2013 when he decided to travel until his money ran out.

In just under a year, he traveled to 21 countries on five different continents to discover how a trade, which dates from 3500 B.C. varies across the world.

He also set up his stool on the street, in a park or on the beach wherever he went offering haircuts to travelers and locals alike in an effort to interact with those around him, all the while documenting the trip on his own YouTube web series.

Beginning his training in the trade as a 16-year-old after receiving disappointing school grades, Gutierrez worked hard and eventually moved to London from his native Liverpool.

Spontaneous adventure

He worked everywhere from swanky salons in upscale Mayfair to funky places in bohemian Soho.

After cementing his reputation, he planned to open his own shop but had the urge to travel before taking on the responsibility of his own business.

The only thing holding him back was the fear of not wanting to disappear from the industry altogether and be forgotten by his peers.

Inspiration struck when a friend took pictures of a barber cutting hair in cool places and wrote a blog piece about it.

The idea snowballed and for Gutierrez, who has an interest in film and photography, all the pieces began to come together.

Keen to take the project to another level, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to pay for a cameraman to accompany him.

It was a largely spontaneous adventure.

“Sometimes we’d use rickshaw drivers to help us translate the barbers or we’d use kids in the street who spoke English,” recalls Gutierrez. “But it was totally improvised every step of the way.”

Hair singeing

Beginning his trip in Athens, he moved on to Turkey and traveled throughout Asia and the Middle East.

He experienced everything from a basic shave to head and face massages in India and threading and ear hair singeing in Lithuania.

He took in barbershop culture in places such as Singapore, Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Dubai while also offering his own haircuts in unusual places.

Among them a waterfall in Bulgaria.

Since wrapping up his hairdressing odyssey, he’s continued to travel, bringing the total number of countries visited to 30.

So having experienced countless shaves and haircuts on several continents, which country does his think has the best barber culture?

“Probably India,” he says. “I find it like a really interesting place because they have the caste system over there and a lot of the barbers have kind of been born into it, through their fathers and grandfathers doing it.”

Best-groomed men

“I learnt how different we are but how the same we are all over the world.

“It doesn’t matter how you got into it, whether you were born into it, or your family got you into it or you chose to go into it, everyone kind of goes through the same experiences and deals with the same type of clients every day.”

And which country had the best groomed males?

While men in India and Turkey are very groomed and make trips to the barbershop every two or three days to touch up their look, he says Middle Eastern men, particularly in Dubai where it pays to look good for career purposes, took the coiffuring crown.

Having temporarily packed away his suitcase and picked up the scissors again as he prepares to get his second barber shop in Berlin up and running — his first is based in London’s Shoreditch — it seems it won’t be long before Gutierrez is on the move again.

“I’m going to be between here and London and then probably going to do a bit more traveling as well” he says.

“I want to go back to Asia so will probably visit Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, The Philippines, and then back to the States, Brazil, Argentina… there’s so many places!” he laughs.

Stay tuned.

 This feature was published on CNN


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