The Barbershop

Welcome to African Style Haircut Adelaide’s first African barbershop catering mostly to guys.

African Australian barber shops are popping up all over the country. From Footscray  Melbourne, to Lakemba Sydney and Torrensville in Adelaide, barber shops across the country and throughout the world share a similar style and provide a place for the guys to hang out while they wait for a haircut or shave.

But people of all ages are also frequenting the African style Haircut barber shops – from babies to adults.

Eritrean-born Goitom Tekle has brought a version of the American movie Barbershop to Adelaide and just like in the movie, tucked in the middle of shops along busy Henley Beach Road, the shop is constantly abuzz with the chatter of  young people .

SALT Magazine dropped by for an interview with the soft-spoken shop proprietor Goitom to talk about his business and how it’s going. With a calm and quiet demeanour, Goitom welcomed the idea and we went to the adjacent Ethiopian restaurant for some quietude.

Originally from Eritrea, Goitom came to Australia in 1998 after a brief three-year stint in Addis Ababa. Before delving into business, Goitom did an undergraduate study at Flinders University and graduated as an accountant. “My dream was to start a business and grow it from small to big and that’s how I started small and then it became big and famous.”

After university, it wasn’t easy to get a job straightaway so he began helping the African community members with their tax returns and soon realised there was no barber shop for African haircuts. With mainstream barbers finding it difficult to cut African hair, people were resorting to dreadlocks and afros while others would have a short plain cut because there was no place to go to for a stylish haircut.

Barbershop-strip

Talking about the mood in his barbershop, Goitom said he feel blessed for the opportunity it has given him. Besides all the important personalities and a variety of people ranging from lawyers, doctors, cricket and soccer players that Goitom meets on a daily basis the most outstanding experience for him is learning about African cultures.  “From here I’ve learnt about different cultures and I love it …. So I know who I am right now and I am proud of it.”

Goitom said the young people like hanging out there and for them it’s little Africa in Adelaide: “I feel like it doesn’t belong to me it belongs to the community that’s how I feel about it.”

Currently Goitom has four young people working on a commission basis and over the years they have honed their razor skills to perfect a nice finish. “A lot of people used to come with pictures from African American hair magazines and say ‘I want this style’. At first we were not perfect but we trained and trained and now we do better than the pictures they bring,” said Goitom with a grin on his face.

We also spoke to Ali who is originally from Iraq and had just finished his retouch. “I’ve got a perfect haircut, the line-up is very great and I always come here and they do a very great job,” he said.

Adelaide Blue Eagles soccer star Yvan Boyokino has been a customer for over a year and a half and drops by every two weeks to renew his cut. “It’s not just for a haircut but there are good people you can talk to, get advice from  …it’s more than a barber shop.” We asked what’s trending and Yvan said at the moment there is a craze for South France which is a fade on the side and a line at the top.

With a thriving business, Goitom’s only concern now is how to cater for the growing number of clients without lowering the standard or quality of his service. “This place is not big enough now and I  get worried if I open another place will the community get the same customer service…that is my concern we don’t want to lose our reputation.”


Visit African Style Haircut at 126b Henley Beach Road, Torrensville .  PHOTOS: Jonathan Barge

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Sidique is the founder of Salt Magazine. He came to Australia in 2001 after fleeing a civil war in his homeland of Sierra Leone. He studied journalism at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone and worked as a reporter for the Statesman Newspaper. He studied a Bachelor of Arts specialising in Multimedia Studies at the University of South Australia.

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