A New Age of Barbering


June 11, 2024

Words by: Twyla Campbell

More is more at Parlour Barba

Barbershops rarely offer more than beard trims and haircuts, but at Parlour Barba, co-founders Vea Fonua and Ron Johnston are challenging the status quo. In July 2022, they opened their first barbershop salon in High Street Centre, breaking the mould by offering non-standard services like full colour applications including foils and highlights, head shaves, hot shaves, and even permanent waves. Haircuts, buzzcuts and beard trims round out the menu with facials offered as stand-alone or add-on services. 

The public’s response to Parlour Barba has been overwhelming. “Never in a million years did I think I would own a business offering facials,” Johnston says, “but our clientele is very interested in looking good and feeling good.” With top-tier organic skin and hair products like Damian Barber and Tahe, Johnston adds, “the services sell themselves.”

The “more” part of what Parlour Barba offers starts when you open the door. Emerald-hued walls are finished in box trim and crown moulding lending the space a Georgetown library vibe. Brass elements add elegance, and leather banquettes and chairs provide stylish functionality and respite from harried life beyond the doors. Vintage-style barber chairs and penny tile harken to the dapper days of a bygone era—1920s Chicago or New York City, to be exact, and from where interior designer, Jennifer Walsh took her cues. 

What underpins it all is the quality of grooming and styling services provided to each customer by a team of seasoned stylists. Time spent at Parlour Barba is all about the experience, so aside from skill and quality of products, each styling appointment starts with a consultation to discuss style options, scalp care, and hair care routines. 

Having your hair shampooed is de rigueur at Parlour Barba no matter the haircut, be it back and sides only, or full cut. Facials, though, are extra and highly recommended. The combination of steam, a hot towel and a comfy chair has induced many a customer to sleep. 

Adding to the uniqueness of Parlour Barba is its liquor license. Enjoying an Old Fashioned, a locally crafted beer, an Oban 14 with your foils and facials seems quite civilized. Any of the well-crafted mocktails are easily as satisfying. 

Yet another facet of this fabulous grooming room is the prohibition-esque basement suite for private parties with culinary provisions from Partake and liquids from local breweries and distilleries alongside well-known, premium spirits.

When it comes to offering customers more, Johnston and Fonua have struck gold—and speaking of gold, “Green” or “Gold” membership packages offer discounts on products and services, and invitations to VIP tastings and events.  

Coincidence perhaps, but Fonua has noticed other shops upping the ante in what they offer, and that’s okay, he says. “Everyone’s aware now of what the standard should look like, and that’s what I wanted to do—be the standard. It’s healthy for the industry and healthy for us as a business because once we reach a certain point, we can keep pushing the goalposts.”

Johnston and Fonua’s accomplishment with the High Street location attracted the attention of Jordan Singer, grandson of Henry Singer, founder of the highly acclaimed men’s fashion store for which the store is named.

“Jordan wanted to build an experience where the customer looked forward to shopping. With men, that can be difficult, but when you combine shopping with a great haircut, a facial and a fantastic drink, that changes things,” Johnston says.

In December 2023, Parlour Barba opened inside Henry Singer’s with the added services of the Shoe Shine Shack and food by the team at Bar Henry, located next door; a wonderful achievement for Johnston and Fonua who continue to bring more of everything to the barbershop scene.


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