Today, I get the chance to speak to Daimon Johnson of Cut Throat London in Peckham. Cut Throat London is a shop that is very minimal, trendy, and slick to a point barber shop that is also mixed gendered. Naturally, I want to get the scoop on Daimon’s journey into barbering and where he plans on heading in the future. We start, of course, at the beginning.
Asked about the beginning of his journey, Daimon explains, “My story is a little bit different. To cut a long story short, I was kind of made homeless up north, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I fled to my hometown with a bag of clothes, and no idea what to do. I always had an interest in men’s style and fashion, and men’s hair is obviously a part of that. One day, I was in a friend’s barber shop and watched the head barber do a whole haircut: scissor over comb, very Italian, and very particular. I thought it looked like a real skill I could get down with it – it ticked every box in terms of learning a trade for me. I came to London, started training under a couple of guys who then went on to form the London School of Barbering and Gents. That’s it, really. Since then, I’ve been grafting and I’ve loved every minute of it.”
He reveals that it has been about six years ago since he began back in 2010. I ask him if he was academy taught or self-taught to gauge his phenomenal skills. “It wasn’t really an academy at the time,” he tells me. “Like I said, Michael from the London School of Barbering went off and did his own thing, but before that, he taught me in central London. It was at that primordial stage before London really had any academy, and before barbering started becoming a legitimate choice for people as a career. I hit it on the right side.”
Asked about what styles he is specializing in at the moment, Daimon reveals that he enjoys being a jack-of-all-trades. “I like to be good at everything. I like to push myself to do stuff that is well out of my comfort zone. I’ve learned a lot more since being in Peckham because we have such a wide demographic of people and styles, as well as people more willing to do unusual things with their hair, which is great. Before here, I tended to lean more towards classic styles: more ‘20s and ‘50s styles. Nowadays, I’m doing a lot of ‘90s stuff, which is quite unusual: severe undercuts, a lot of steps, a lot of curtains, and things like that. We’re quite ‘80s and ‘90s vibes in here just because James and I are kind of stuck in the past.”
I bring up the longer hair in the ‘80s and how it seems to be making a comeback. Daimon agrees with me, “We’re seeing a lot of trends happening, and we’re seeing a lot of longer hair on guys. The beards, I’ve noticed, have been getting smaller and smaller. You’re getting guys with massive lumberjack beards and they’re now going to a nice cropped and tidier aesthetic.”
As I brought up earlier, Daimon’s shop has a very minimal and trendy look to it. I ask him about what led to the shop’s aesthetics. “That’s a good question,” he tells me. “There’s one thing I can’t stand, and that’s gimmicks. I don’t like the starch or razor blade motifs. I wanted a space that was really comfortable and would suit everybody. I want every single person who walks in the door to be cared for, and I want them all to feel equally as comfortable.”
The subject then turns to the allowance of women in his shop. “We’re quite adamant that a barbershop is a place for a woman. We definitely cater for all genders and walks of life. We don’t want the shop to feel masculine or feminine. We have a mixture of disciplines here. I’m a barber by trade, so I don’t tend to cut long hair at all, but the people that work here are skilled in different areas, so when someone comes in we can pair them up with the best person for the job.” As for the name of the shop, Daimon reveals it is named after the street they are on, which used to be called Cut Throat Lane or Cut Throat Alley for the highwaymen that robbed people in old Peckham.
Daimon also has a line of pomades that are his own creation. I ask for the backstory on those and he tells me, “One day, my brother Leo and I went for coffee while I was freelancing and doing business stuff. I remember thinking how easy it would be to create a product, because I felt like there wasn’t really anything out on the market in the UK that catered to what I was looking for our of a hair product. We basically said, “Let’s do it, then”. We went home and got pots and pans out and came up with that first formula with a little help from someone else. We had a few ingredients that we wanted to use that we knew had been used before. We got a nice, unique formula made, got a bunch of jars, had labels made for them – it all happened very quickly. Next thing we knew, there were rave reviews on forums all over the world. It just blew up.” His products also include a cow horn comb, which he demonstrates. They are typically designed from the horn of the cow, and do not cause any friction when running through hair.
I ask him how he went from mixing pomade in pots and pans to his latest discovery, and whether it was done via his Facebook group. Daimon tells me, “It’s just hard work, really, but social media does play a part. We had a couple of really good reviews in America. We had a particular guy called The Pump that is well-known in the states and divides a lot of opinions on products like it. Then, we started a Facebook group called Everything Pomade. It’s got thousands and thousands of followers now – I just can’t believe it. People from all over the world come together and talk about their hair grease. Not that we started it or anything, but people started making their own versions of things from home and they were making these really amazing products that never have the financial backing to make it big.” Considering the regulations and testing required, Daimon admits he was in the right spot.
As for education, Daimon has plans for the future. “My partners and I are close to moving down under, and I’d like to perhaps set up some sort of academy or a nice shop where I can do some really nice things. There’s definitely a scope for it. We’ve done great things with this shop, and I really want it to continue on. The thing is, with New Zealand and Australia, I noticed that there’s a lot of good ideas and a lot of good people, but they don’t execute their ideas in the right sort of way. The branding is kind of off point, but the opportunity is there. You have to think of yourself as a consumer, I suppose.”
And what is Daimon liking about the industry, at the moment? “There’s a lot of things I like about it, really. It’s amazing to see so many incredibly talented people on Instagram and whatnot – they inspire me to carry on doing what I’m doing. It’s a bit overkill in some areas, though. There’s a lot of crap going on as well.”
Asked about said crap, he explains, “I think the whole “masculine” attitude sucks. Maybe I’m a feminist, I don’t know, but I can’t stand behind the idea of barbershops being only for men or barbering being only for men. I want to see things merge and for the lines to blur a bit more, because it’s not just male and female, its race as well. I’m not seeing enough white barbers doing Afro hair, I’m not seeing enough Afro barbers doing white hair – I want to see more of that, more merging. It’s 2016.”
Daimon recently went down the American taper route. I ask him why he felt the need to do this. “I didn’t want to use Super Tapers anymore. They’re just not powerful enough. I like being able to have a kit that I can do different things with. I need something that does bulk work, and just an arsenal of a toolkit that does everything. I read a lot of things, particularly about the Andis Masters, which I’ve always loved because you can do a ton of techniques on the clippers. Everybody in America uses them, and I’ve always wanted a pair. I got some of them off of your good self, Larry, and I’ve been using them ever since.” I ask if he feels as if they have upped his game, and he tells me, “Definitely. Since then, I’ve customized my kit to get the best out of every piece that I use. There are still some things I want, and I think I’ll continue collecting things because, if you’re passionate about barbering in general, it is good to have a knowledge of different kits and tools.”
I was flipping through a Belmont Maker’s brochure recently, and saw that Daimon had actually been featured. Daimon also tells me that they’ve gone on to make a video. I ask Daimon why he felt Belmont chose him to be a part of their marketing, and he gives me a fantastic answer. “Because we’re just awesome, basically. A client of mine, his partner works with Belmont, she saw the shop and was really impressed with the way it looks. They got a whole camera crew in and did a day’s shoot. They’ve done this really beautiful video that tells the story about our shop – you should check that out through Belmont’s Twitter and Facebook feeds. They basically used to champion their UK market, which is obviously very flattering.”
He also talks about a pop-up shop event that he and his crew did awhile aho. “We did a thing for CalAid, which was for the refugee crisis in Calais. We put a chair in Copeland Park while the buses rolled in and cut hair for donations. We’d like to do more of that this summer, maybe get some DJs in on Saturdays. We’re big on our music here.”
And what is next for Daimon? “I think what is next for me is adventures in other lands. Priorities first: family first and then we’ll think about a decent scale project down under, I think.” With a thank for you for his time, I bid farewell to this enterprising barber who lives the barber life in all new ways.
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