Luxury barber Sultans of Shave recently celebrated their first anniversary with the launch of Sultans of Shave Club. Members pay a monthly fee of $199 to enjoy a Sultan’s Experience worth $120, Sultan’s Shave worth $60, a full size product from the barbershop’s stable of brands, complete with styling tips every month.
We managed to catch up with Sultans of Shave co-founder Lewis Lim and asked him the question many of us guys are wondering – why should we pay so much more at a classy gentlemen salon than at those $12 barbershops?
Interview With Lewis Lim
Daily Vanity (DV): Why do you want to open a gentlemen salon? Isn’t women’s money easier to earn?
Lewis Lim (L): Derrick, Ting Xi and I have known each other for quite some time and we had always talked about starting a business together. So we brainstormed for something we are passionate about and which will be a viable business. Male grooming was the answer.
Yes, you are right it’s much easier to earn women’s money. But the markets are saturated; there are so many salons. Men do not have enough places with masculine ambience for them to go for their haircut and to relax.
DV: What’s the difference between a gentlemen salon versus a conventional salon or barber?
L: This is a question I get asked most often. Two things: our ambience and service provided. At a typical salon, you will be filled with ladies going about their daily chatters, hair dryer blowing with strong chemical smell filling the salon. The setting just isn’t conducive for men.
At most salons, they focus on chemical works and cutting what is trendy. At Sultans of Shave, we focus on classic cuts and provide cuts that suit your lifestyle and face shape. We do a consultation before every cut – so our barbers will cut what suits the client and not just what’s trendy.
DV: How did the passion for shaving come about?
L: This interest started when I was young. My grandfather’s daily routine will be to have a wet shave and as a kid, I watched him and realised it’s a very interesting process, thus I began to acquire that skill myself.
DV: Where did you learn your skills from?
L: I learnt my wet shaving skills from my grandfather. I also went to London for about a month to improve my techniques and pick up tips from various barbers since they have different styles.
DV: We heard that you are pretty booked out recently. What’s the profile of your clients like and why do you think it’s gaining popularity?
L: We are in the Central Business District (CBD) so naturally our main clientèle are Professionals, Managers, Executives and Business Owners (PMEBs) who work around here. But we are seeing more and more people coming from all around Singapore. Profile wise, it’s quite evenly split between Asians and Caucasians.
As to why it’s gaining popularity, I think pop culture plays a huge part of it. You see movies like The Great Gatsby and Wolf of Wall Street – all classic barbering cuts. One more thing apart from pop culture, media played a big part in this small industry. People are getting to know what’s barbering about, what’s the difference between a barbershop and a salon, this made men become more in tune with their appearance and are more willing to invest in it.
DV: What are some of your most popular services?
L: I have to say it’s the Sultan’s Experience. Basically it’s a haircut and shave – the Sultan’s Shave is our more premium shave combined with a basic haircut and a massage. So we combined the two and offer it at a better price.
DV: Tell us which service you think people should try?
L: I will always advise my clients to try the shave. Some may ask why I should pay $40 to $60 for a shave when I can do it myself.
It’s a pampering experience – like a men’s version of facial. You get to come in here with a group of friends to bond and relax.
DV: Any grooming tips for cavemen who want to be gentlemen or to get that classy look?
L: It’s subjective. My tip will be to go to a barber and ask him to give you a haircut that suits you. Communicate with him – a good barber will be more than willing to share tips with you. After giving you a haircut, he should also give you tips on how to style your hair.
Sultans of Shave is located at 11 North Canal Road, #02-01 Singapore 048824