Tucked into the burgeoning creative hub on Totara Steet, Ivy Hair and HAVANA BARBERS invite Talia Waldegrave to celebrate their launch.

WORDS TALIA WALDEGRAVE PHOTOS TRACIE HEASMAN

Launch night, and Ivy and Havana already have me sold. Brim­ming with tal­ent­ed young­sters, local busi­ness own­ers, and hair pro­fes­sion­als, this is a damn fine par­ty. Down-to-earth glam­our is how I’d describe it. Smil­ing, hand­some bar­bers hand out steam­ing hot snacks from The Piz­za Library next door, and the bar is set up with a tan­gled web of mint leaves, a moun­tain of lime wedges, and buck­ets of ice to make Havana Rum cock­tails. Two ultra-glam ladies, kick­ing back in bar­ber­shop chairs, each have a piz­za slice in one hand and a cham­pag­ne flute in the oth­er. This is a fam­i­ly unit, blood rel­a­tive or not.

THE GURU

Ivy Hair, Havana Barbers, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty
Meet in the mid­dle: clients and staff from Ivy and Havana enjoy a cof­fee and a chat

On return­ing to inter­view the Ivy-Havana crew, I’m ear­ly, but am greet­ed warm­ly before I’ve man­aged to get inside the door. With time to kill, I wait in the com­mu­nal kitchen, at the table where I’d gob­bled piz­za just a few nights ear­lier. The kitchen epit­o­mis­es the Ivy-Havana vibe; the fit-out has had some­one with a sharp design eye to over­see it, and it’s ful­ly func­tion­al, too (a wash­ing machine is tucked neat­ly away in the cor­ner). Best of all, this space joins Ivy (the ladies’ salon) to Havana (the bar­ber). Staff make them­selves a cup­pa and chat to clients wait­ing for a colour to take, or any­one else who hap­pens to be there for a catch up.

Each per­son pass­ing by gives me a nod, a wave or a ‘hi’, and I won­der if they’re trained to smile this way, because it’s incred­i­bly wel­com­ing.

I’m here to meet Ruth, the matri­arch of the fam­i­ly. After 45 years as a train­er, she’s a bit of a leg­end in the indus­try. “My moth­er-in-law opened one of the first hair train­ing schools in New Zealand, and that’s where I start­ed. From the begin­ning, I’ve enjoyed watch­ing how life chang­ing it is for young peo­ple to learn a skill, and I still love every sec­ond of it.”

Ruth and her team have recent­ly refur­bished a build­ing on Totara Street to cre­ate the beau­ti­ful salon, Ivy, and broth­er bar­ber shop, Havana. The brand­ing is cut­ting edge, and the décor con­tem­po­rary cool; it’s unlike any­thing Tau­ran­ga has seen before.

We want­ed to offer some­thing com­plete­ly sep­a­rate from the train­ing school, where peo­ple could come, sit at the table, read the paper and have a cof­fee. It’s about offer­ing the whole expe­ri­ence, with ser­vice and con­sis­ten­cy.”

IVY

Put sim­ply, Ivy is beau­ti­ful. She’s the quin­tes­sen­tial salon luxe, with gold can­dles and ornate décor. It’s the place to be pam­pered in all things hair, from cuts and styling to indul­gent treat­ments for lus­cious locks.

HAVANA

The recent resur­gence in the old school bar­ber shop has brought back the tra­di­tion­al cut-throat shave, inject­ing some va-va-voom into men’s groom­ing. Havana does just that. The décor is all blokey, and the cor­ru­gat­ed slid­ing door to the car park is rem­i­nis­cent of a 1950’s James Dean bik­er-gang hang out.

But what makes this place tick is the peo­ple.

Because we are aligned with the train­ing side of things, our atten­tion to detail is impec­ca­ble and we are good at com­mu­ni­cat­ing with our clients but, most impor­tant­ly, what we do best is cus­tomer ser­vice.”

On my way out, I book an appoint­ment. I can’t wait to go back, I already feel part of the gang.

5 Totara Street, Down­town Mt Maun­ganui

Mon­day — Fri­day, 9 am – 5 pm

Face­book: HAVANABARBERSIVYHAIR