The first clue that The Artistry Lounge isn't your typical barbershop is that about half the space has nothing to do with haircuts. Owners Robert Anderson and Jeremie McGlory have set up a big back room with couches, game tables, a TV and even a bar for complimentary beverages.
"We want to put a new twist on the way barbershops are run," Anderson says.
The pair are serious about their craft, but they believe a barbershop can be a place for great conversation and community in addition to a fade, fresh trim or whatever attention your head needs.
Anderson said he's been moving this way since becoming a barber 15 years ago. He credits his teacher at a vo-tech school in Hutchinson for inspiring him. "Never had a student failed an exam," he says. "Being a barber is something that can change your life, let you be your own boss and really help your family."
Anderson considers his specialty to be the straight-razor shave, which he also calls a "baby bottom shave" for the closeness it achieves. Two electric warmers full of hot towels waiting to be draped over clients' faces sit on a shelf in the shop. Anderson said this kind of shave is a "bit of nostalgia" that most men have never experienced – but should. Anderson also teaches at Old Town Barber College.
McGlory has been cutting hair for nine years. He enjoys the challenge of customizing haircuts to a client's specifications, no matter how detailed or unusual. "Whatever you come up with, I'll cut it," he says. Although Artistry Lounge primarily caters to men, McGlory does offer short cuts and eyebrow treatments for women.
The two barbers met more than a year ago and decided they shared a concept for a different kind of barbershop, to the point of finishing each other's thoughts. "There are some shops out there that feel like – I don't want to say…" McGlory starts to say.
"An assembly line," Anderson says.
"We really give more of an experience than a quick pop-in, pop-out," McGlory adds.
They picked a location on the border between downtown and Old Town because of growth in the area, including the renovation of nearby Union Station and the construction of Cargill's new Wichita headquarters just down Douglas. They're currently open by appointment, with plans to hold a grand opening and add another barber or two before long.
If nothing else, the lounge in the rear of the shop will make waiting for a seat in the barber's chair a little more pleasant.
“We can give great haircuts all day long," Anderson says, to which McGlory interjects: "But we want this to be a place where you can meet different people, network, open your mind. That's what it's all about.”