Nice to meet you Arthur, on top of all your high proficiency performance for the industry, crown jewelry of all the activities became NYC Barber Shop Museum. How did you come up with this idea?
My pleasure. So, it wasn’t an idea. It was a promise. Made when I lost my father. He was a brilliant barber for all his life, and a great father that raised another barber. He loved his trade unconditionally and started collecting. When he passed away in 2003, I made a promise that I would do a Barber Shop Museum. But honestly, I thought would do it much later, when I am far in my 50s. Even though it took me 15 years, I still didn’t expect it to happen so soon. I had an impressive collection, and it is still growing! But I guess that was just the right moment for this museum to arise.
What a beautiful commitment! What do you think brought so much attention to the NYC Barber Shop Museum and made it known worldwide?
Well, I guess when you do everything out of love, it gets exposed. Most people didn’t believe in this idea. But I truly believed, as I programmed it long-long time ago. It took years, lots of patient and precise work. If there are many collecting barbers and beautifully decorated barbershop, we took a courage and time to put it all together, bring it to official 501c3 Nonprofit organization level, research history, and been granted a status by Educational Department. So, I guess that love and devotion brought it to worldwide recognition. And we are not going to stop.
For these years of Museum work so many events, video and photo shootings took place. What was the most remarkable you think?
When people ask me what my favorite artifact is, to me they all favorite and all have sentimental value. Same thing with making videos and photo shootings. Every time there was a booked one, I was jumping of joy.
There were tons of incredible photoshoot made. We hosted DJ Muggs & Meyhem Lauren video shooting, Dirti Diana with Ruff Ryders vet Drag On music video production was like a real hip-hop party. Jaime Zevallos is not just a Marvel actor who shot an episode of award-winning documentary with us but staying a loyal customer. Once those guys from Argentina came to do a TV Show, Marley and his son Mirko. That was lot of fun, we laughed a lot and spoke some sord of Spanglish. It turned up a very nice episode. Every time any reporter came (and we had most of those in New York) some magic happened and created the most warm and friendly environment.
But! The most remarkable to me is when I share my knowledge with students. When other barber schools come around with the classes. That is completely satisfying and makes me happy.
Sounds as an excited journey. And now you are announcing that Museum is shutting its doors… When will it happen? On permanent or temporary basis?
Yes. On the 31st of this month I must give the keys. It is over for this location. And definitely permanent for collection exhibit.
How did you make this decision?
I had no choice; the landlords didn’t want to come to the agreement. But to me whatever happens, happens for the best of us. Since me collection grew, the current spot of 600 sq. ft. is too small. To change displays every 5-6 months is not easy, each chair is 200-250 pound. So, I am actually happy, it means it is time for bigger space.
Do you already have a space to make home for the collection?
Physically no, but in my heart yes. It is a law of attraction. It will find its home. If it is already here, and people loved the concept. The Creator is good and has done what is good, what it takes to make this Museum a part of the history and keep spreading the devotion to the craft of barbering.
You announced to direct all the profits from your other business, REAMIR Men’s Grooming Product Line for relocation of collection. Will it cover all the expenses, or you are looking for investors?
REAMIR company has been general sponsor of the Museum opening at the beginning. Since day one it was one of my goals to create this project without any side investments. Because again, I made myself a promise regarding this collection destination, and I am willing to keep it. This collection will keep serving its purpose. With my team I will work harder to make it happen sooner. And this team grew enormously over the time of Museum existence. Everyone who has ever visited, send us donated artifact, made direct donation, hosted a class, or attended one, – all those devotees who adapted and support our concept are making an impact.
While there is no permanent exhibit, will any collection displays be available to the public somewhere?
It is already. We have moved part of collection to the NYC Barber Shop Museum Boutique, right across the street. This historical location, keeping and attracting Barbering history since 1939 will get you even more of immersive experience and show a petite Museum display.
Another exhibition display will temporarily go to Illinois to complete presentation of another remarkable barber in history, captured in local Museum.
Yet even better! On the day NYC Barber Shop Museum will shut its doors at current physical location, it will open its virtual one. We’ve been receiving this request for all these years. There is no bigger pleasure having people coming and spreading the word all around the globe. We’ve had barbers, their families and admirers coming from all over: our very first guests were a family from Poland, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Eastern countries, India, China. We have huge following from Latin America, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia… Every single follower with internet access will be invited to visit Museum virtually.
And the last thing. When Museum will relocate and expand its presentation, will it have the same concept? What mission will it hold?
We will definitely keep holding our mission and enlightening activity. Presenting the history, traditions and immersive experience of an authentic trade of Barbering. But getting a bigger a space at least twice bigger size, I am willing to have no less than 1500 sq. ft. It will help us to allocate a proper environment for Barber Academy. We will dedicate few days a week to teach and train. From beginning to advanced trainings. We will proudly keep holding and evolving our status of Educational Establishment.