Letter to the Editor: Barbershop boom

Hey KT!

I want to thank you for the article in your Feb. 4 issue, “New generation, old traditions” about the boom of barbershops in Kitchissippi. I’m writing to tell your readers a bit more about the history and evolution of barbering in the ‘hood. I have lived here for nine years and worked here for 15, including 4 1/2 years as the owner of Mint Hair Studio and her one-year-old sibling, The Brooke.

Kristen Atkinson, owner of Mint Hair Studio and The Brooke Barber Shop. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
Kristen Atkinson, owner of Mint Hair Studio and The Brooke Barber Shop. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

I’m so happy you included The Brooke in your story. Many KT readers will know that The Brooke has been a barbershop, and a cornerstone of the community, for 35 years. It was Carole’s for a long time. I think it’s pretty cool that a ‘lady barber’ was at the helm in a time when it wasn’t the norm. She launched her business at a time when this neighbourhood was quite different than its current incarnation. From her prime location, Carole saw many changes pass by her window and come through the front door.

From barber poles to animal busts and the spicy smell of aftershave – there’s much to love about the feel of a barbershop. People like these traditions. I do too, and I also like how barbershops have evolved. I opened one because I believe that men should get to experience the same level of grooming that women do. While they have typically been male-dominated environments, I want to break that mold. My philosophy is to create a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who wants to walk in and get a fresh ‘do!

One thing I’ve learned from working in this industry for so long is that some people don’t want to book ahead for a cut. The walk-in is much more conducive to the barbershop style of service. I’m happy to be able to offer both styles of service at locations that are almost across the street from each other.

I’m proud of my neighbourhood. It is diverse and creative and accepting. In many ways it reminds me of the small town I grew up in – both are full of characters, and full of a sense of community. I love being part of a talented, artistic community that is showing Ottawa what it is and what it can be. Thank you for putting a spotlight on my hood and a profession I am passionate about.

Thanks Hintonburg, for your continued patronage.

Kristen Atkinson,
owner of Mint Hair Studio and The Brooke Barber Shop


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