In recent years we have seen a renaissance for the barbering industry. A new wave of men and women skilled with the sheers bringing back a classic trade with a new attitude. While new shops have given a facelift to the traditional barbershop, the spinning poles remain a place for conversation and rebirth. One of these shops is the Dapper House just outside of Detroit in Royal Oak, MI. When walking in, you may catch glimpse of a young man draped in tattoos, a waxed cotton apron, and an open seat. That man is Jacob Gustafson better know to the regulars as “Jake with the Cuts.” His love for the art of barbering, easy demeanor, and great conversations had us intrigued and felt an interview was in order. So sit back, spritz a splash of Clubman in the air and get to know our barber.
MWG: How do you respond when people ask ‘what do you do’?
JG: I usually tell people I chop domes at Dapper House in Royal Oak.
What about growing up in the midwest made you want to become a barber?
I think a lot of it comes from the values my parents instilled in me as a child. They showed me how to build lasting relationships with people. I get to be around people all day, whether it be my co-workers or clients, I get to talk to them everyday. I do recall a time that my brother showed me a Sufjan Stevens song and one of the lyrics was “I use my hands to use my heart” and with cutting hair, I get to do that every day – use my hands to use my heart.
How would you describe the Detroit style and how do you incorporate that into your work?
There are a good amount of blue color workers in Detroit and the surrounding area and I see a lot of what they wear slip into style everywhere. For example, people wearing Carhartt coats and Red Wing boots yet they aren’t necessarily working in a factory or in an industry that resembles blue color at all. People like things that are functional and last. That being said, a good part of my style comes from wanting people to have a haircut that is not only functional for his/her daily life but lasts until the next time I see them in my chair again.
How do you approach your craft? What can people expect when you’re behind the sheers?
I love cutting hair and I take it pretty seriously. I would hope that’s apparent to anyone that sits in my chair. People should expect my best work each and every time because I’m expecting that from myself as well.
What, if anything, has surprised you the most about cutting hair?
It honestly surprised me how many people just need someone to talk to, vent to or just BS with. I don’t think most people even realized they need that in life. Through that, I’ve made some friends that were just random clients in my chair, and now when they come back it doesn’t feel like work, it just feels like we’re hanging out.
Outside of your craft, what is your escape?
Well, this past January I picked up the quintessential Midwest winter sport, bowling. I do a considerable amount of reading and writing which definitely helps because sometimes after work you just need things to be quiet and slow down. But none of these beat out going to a show, live entertainment is my favorite hobby.
What are some of your favorite places to explore in the Midwest?
The times I’ve spent in Waupaca, WI and Boyne Falls, MI have been awesome, it’s a nice change of pace from Metro Detroit. I do think exploring Flint has been the most interesting though, the downtown area especially is underrated.
How would you define a ‘Midwestern Gentleman’?
Hardworking. Treats people with respect. Good. At least that’s how I view the people I would consider to be one.