Open Barbers is a not-for-profit hair salon which caters for all genders, sexes and hair lengths. Up and until now directors Greygory Vass and Felix Lane have occupied temporary spaces across London, but increasing demand for their inclusive service means the pair are hoping to raise £25,000 for a new home.
Vass said: "We provide hair cuts that are not prescriptive around gender, it's a safe space where no-one makes assumptions, letting the individual take control over their image". The current salon in Kennington is fully booked two weeks in advance and offers up to 75 appointments a week.
With homophobic hate crimes up by 29.3% in London this year, Greygory hopes that the new permanent space in Old Street, Hackney, will operate as a salon-come-community-centre for the LGBT community, the like of which is lacking in London. Alongside haircuts, the new space will be opened up for workshops and will offer advice, teas and fanzines to pass the time.
The salon is open to everyone but particularly for people who identify as queer, trans and non-binary who may not feel comfortable using mainstream hairdressers because of their gender identity or sexuality. Greygory says hairdressers can be upsetting for people who are transitioning between genders and who then have to contend with gendered pricing — with female styles often paying the higher price.
With three weeks to go the pair have so far raised £12,295, half of their target. Funds raised will go towards a refurbishment to make the venue wheelchair friendly. A private room will also be created for those who would prefer discretion when having their hair cut.
Open Barbers prices operate on a sliding scale of between £10-£40 with those in financial difficulties able to pay less. Five times a week it offers haircuts priced at a reasonable £2-£10.
The campaign closes on the 11 January. You can donate to their crowdsourcing campaign here.
Open Barbers was set up by Greygory Vass and Klara Vanova, in 2011. Klara Vanova now runs Barberette, an independent gender neutral barbershop in Hackney Downs.