Barber’s bid to bring Italian cool to St Albans

Sam Campagna of the Alternative Barbering Company

Sam Campagna of the Alternative Barbering Company - Credit: Archant

Four years ago, local man Sam Campagna had a dream to bring Italian cool to gents’ hairdressing in St Albans.

With nothing but a vision, a few planks of wood and a small family loan, the classically trained hairdresser teamed up with business partner Danny Martino and took a run-down shop in George Street to create The Alternative Barbering Company.

Sam, 32, whose family originate in Sicily, said: “St Albans has always had a rich heritage of Italian hairdressers. My passion was to recreate the traditional, classic barbershop but with a contemporary twist, offering luxury wet shaves to augment a full range of modern gents’ haircutting services.

“Above all, I wanted to create a casual, ‘coffee shop’ style atmosphere which fitted in with today’s rushed lifestyles; a haven where men could enjoy a deeply relaxing and satisfying grooming experience.”

In an age of modernity, it seemed a commercially old-fashioned concept but Sam stuck to his guns building a team around his core ethos of total customer service and an excellence in traditional barbering skills.

Recently celebrating four successful years of trading and with a newly opened salon in Station Road, Harpenden, the dream appears to have paid off.

The now-established George Street salon offers timeless elegance with reclaimed timber floors, quirky barber-themed wood-panelled walls, exposed brickwork, a flat screen TV and a Chesterfield sofa for clients - while Harpenden offers more contemporary green and white brick tiled walls and brighter, airier feel.

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The business has made a point of investing heavily in quality fitments; original Kokens and Theo Kochs chairs, some of which have been beautifully re-upholstered in purple patterned hide - a far cry from the clinical black and white doctor’s surgery decor seen in many gents’ hairdressers.

The Alternative Barbering Co’s mission to rekindle the theatre and drama of a traditional men’s barber shop has proved a massive success. The company has a strong social responsibility too, supporting both local and larger national charities such as GOSH and Movember.

With its unique style, relaxed atmosphere and dedicated team of skilled professionals, the Alternative Barbering Co has certainly carved an exclusive niche offering that traditional but rare ‘true’ barber experience.

Not bad for a young man who, just a few years before, was kicking his heels with nothing more than a pipe dream, a few planks of reclaimed timber and a pair of scissors.