Setting the Trend

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Grooming is important for all to both look their best, feel great and for others to feel good around you as well. Although men might not seem to pay much attention to taking care of themselves, that too is changing quickly. More men are investing in their personal grooming than ever before, and the trend is climbing.

Of course, for the groomed gentleman, there needs to be an oasis of sorts. A place to escape from the outside world and treat himself with some personal care. The challenge however, is to find a place that provides great value for money, and quality of service.

The house of men

We heard of an establishment that might be all that and more; the Raula Barbershop. Not long after its establishment, the place soon gained notoriety through word of mouth and social media. Ceylon Today visited this house of men to see for ourselves if the hype truly is deserved. 

Hidden away, but also in plain sight, the Raula Barbershop wasn’t that hard to find, located at Kirulapone, and easily discoverable by taking a look at Google maps. Stepping inside, we were greeted with an ambiance that radiated sophisticated, masculine energy.

From the soft music to the wooden colour tones and motifs that reminded us of a tavern or gentlemen’s club, to the relaxing noise of scissors gently snipping, there was a calming, classy, relaxing atmosphere that made us feel at home right away.

We were greeted by Stephnie Mudalige and Sachith Ranasinghe, the two brains behind the operation, who shared with us their story.

Fulfilling a need

“It all began for us when we realised that Sri Lanka didn’t have a dedicated establishment for grooming mens’ beards,” the two shared. “We realised that this was untapped potential, and so, we began to brainstorm plans for Raula Barbershop.”

“We wanted it to be a masculine space for gentlemen,” they shared. “We pooled in all of our collective creativity and came up with the entire interior decor you see here.”

Of course, before all that, there was the challenge to find a suitable location and to learn if the concept would even take off in the first place.

Setting up shop

After a long period of searching, the two finally decided on this location, where the barbershop is found today. The two revealed that although they weren’t entirely happy with the location at first, it has served them well, and was the best option they had at the time.

“When we got the place, it was just a bare, concrete room,” they said. “We had to design and plan the entire interior.” When that was completed, the two went on the hunt to hire their stylists, and soon, the Raula Barbershop was ready for business.

For the sleek and dapper

Although initially, only beards were groomed by the stylists, the two quickly found that the existing demand for a one-stop-shop for all male grooming needs was too big of an opportunity to let slip by.

The Raula Barbershop now provides a range of grooming services for men, from hair to beard, to even skin care, with professional, skilled stylists to provide for your styling needs.

Clients are able to step into the barbershop on their pre-booked appointment. Once at the shop, clients are treated to a bespoke experience which includes a special consultation session with the stylists, giving full attention to each individual and their needs.

“We’ve ensured that no stylist is rushed, and is able to give full attention to their clients’ requests with ample time,” they assured. “We want all of our clients to receive the best service we can possibly give.”

Constantly growing and learning

Today, the barbershop is in high demand, high enough that the two have started to consider expanding into new branches. “We simply don’t have enough space to serve all of our clients,” they said.

“It wasn’t easy at first,” they shared. “At first, growing the business wasn’t easy, especially after all that happened the past three years since we started. Word of mouth and social media played a big role in our growth. We’ve stopped all of our marketing efforts for a while not because we simply can’t keep up with the number of clients we now have.”

It’s not only the barbershop, its stylists are also constantly improving themselves and learning new techniques and skills to improve their craft. “We want our stylists to learn and try new things, which we encourage them to do when not working with a client,” they shared. “We give them full freedom to operate as professionals, because this is their expertise. We also, consider their recommendation and suggestions seriously when looking for ways to improve the barbershop, which we think was one of the secrets to our growth.”

Grooming for gentlemen

“Many people think that skincare is something that only women do, and even those who do pay attention to taking care of their skin might not admit to it outright. But that is wrong. A lot of men do pay attention to taking care of their skin, and it’s important for everyone, which is why we provide a wide range of options for skincare,” they shared. “I think it’s a stigma that needs to be addressed, because taking care of your appearance and skin is important regardless of gender.”

Stephnie and Sachith agree that Raula Barbershop is a venture with a purpose to break this existing stereotype, to help normalise and set new trends in the world of male grooming in Sri Lanka.

“We never expected the barbershop to grow this fast and large, and we’re excited for what’s next for the future. We have a few ideas that we want to try in the future, and we hope that everyone will come and give Raula Barbershop a try,” the two concluded.

(Pix by Kelum Chamara)

By Shanuka Kadupitiyage