In show business, the green room is a space inside a theatre or venue reserved for performers to prepare, unwind — or party. Dating back to Shakespearean times, green rooms have offered a space away from the stage to de-stress with friends before, or after, an important event.
When local barbers Dave Brown and Eddie Stannard decided to pursue their goal of opening their own barbershop, the name Green Room seemed fitting.
“Most of us came from the music scene, or music backgrounds. Coming up with a band name — or a business name — is hard because it’s a reflection of what you’re doing,” Stannard said.
“Dave sent me a list of name suggestions and [Green Room] was the one that stood out to me because I thought it paid homage to our past with the music scene, but it’s also the ready room for the VIP’s, and that’s what we do here. We help people get ready for their events in their lives.”
Alongside fellow barber Marissa Posmituk, apprentice Mike Malloy and shop hand Brendan Lennard, Green Room Barbershop celebrated their soft open on Nov. 27. Located on the stretch of King St. known affectionately as “Midtown,” the space seemed like the perfect pit stop between Kitchener and Waterloo.
After barbering independently for some time, both Brown and Stannard realized they missed the shop atmosphere — which is where they first met. Stannard started out as Brown’s client a few years ago when Brown worked at a Waterloo barbershop. Stannard then became his apprentice, and now the two are business partners.
“I think we both lost the sense of community that having a shop has … No one gets into barbering to be alone; it’s that shop atmosphere that really makes this industry and this career so enjoyable,” Stannard said.
Brown, who grew up in Kitchener, received a few offers from local shops while he was on his own, but nothing felt right.
“There was nothing that catered to who we are as people in this city … There’s lots of types of barbershops, but there definitely wasn’t a barbershop for us,” Brown said.
“By working in a barbershop, we’re the cornerstone of a community. We’re relating to so many different people. You meet so many different people. You meet all these other business owners and you meet other people who know about things going on and all of a sudden, you have all these opportunities to be a part of something.”
That sentiment is what appeared to be so important to both Stannard and Brown. They view the space as not just an opportunity to give really good hair cuts, but it’s an opportunity to create a community space that’s open to anyone — regardless of age, race, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“If anybody has hair, we’re in the business of removing it and styling it and making people feel good and look good,” Brown said.
While the shop mainly caters to those with short or medium-length hair, Stannard and Brown are so ingrained in KW’s local hair scene, that, if they’re not equipped to cut your hair, they will point you to someone who can.
Stannard explained that another new Kitchener hair studio, Good Hair Co., also opened in the same timeframe. He said he was excited to support that team as they offer different services in the same industry.
“The young hair scene in this city is about to get a lot better,” Stannard said.
Barbering aside, Stannard and Brown have some other, more surprising, plans for the space, which is slightly larger than your expected barbershop. They had the option to rent a smaller space, but that posed more limitations.
“Tuesday to Saturday, we do haircuts … but on the weekends, we want to do different events,” Stannard said.
Through Stannard’s side hustle, White Cap Co. — a beer-meets-neo-traditional-tattoo-style apparel line — he met several local artisans and makers. Green Room will also be used to host local makers’ markets, as well as live music events.
“There are so many outlets and so many people doing super cool shit in this city. If we can support that, that’s awesome and it’s a lot of fun,” Brown said.
Green Room isn’t your average barbershop; it’s an example of how like-minded people can come together and create something grander than their original intent. Brown explained that this ability to break the mould comes from the fact that there’s no existing precedent.
“As much as barbering is traditionally so many things … when Eddie and I started the shop, there’s no homage to history here. We cut hair, [but] none of our grandfathers were barbers, none of us grew up in a traditional shop,” Brown said.
While maybe this reads as a story about a new business opening up, it’s actually just a story about friendship. Sure, Green Room is a place you can go for a haircut, but it’s also a place for good conversation and that personal connection that can sometimes be lost in the service industry. It’s a place to celebrate art, culture — and above all, our community.
“In hair school, they told you: don’t become friends with your clients, don’t give your clients your personal phone number, don’t hang out with your clients, because then you’ve got to be on the clock all the time,” Stannard said.
“But those exact things are what makes me love this career.”