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Opening barbershop in his backyard a winning move

After nine years roaming the streets as a taxi driver, Mr Tahir Aziz opted for a career U-turn that would put him a cut above the rest – he became a barber. He set up Keep It Handsome Barbershop in Tampines, in an estate where he grew up.
Below: Mr Tahir doing a fade haircut for a customer. A gradual blend of different lengths for the sides and back, it can take an hour to complete and involves tapering the hair from the crown to the neck to make the hairstyle look seamless. Mr Tahir
Mr Tahir Aziz (in white) with his barbers (from left) Mr Adib Mahmud, 21; Mr Yasser Abdullah, 43; and Mr Nur Fikri, 21. In 2017, Mr Tahir moved his business from Chai Chee to a bigger shop in Tampines, just a block away from his mother's flat. Mr Tahir now has six chairs and 10 barbers. During festive seasons and before school reopens, a seventh chair will be added. Waiting time can be up to two hours and the shop would close after 10pm. Once, it did not close till 4am on Hari Raya Aidilfitri itself. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Below: Mr Tahir doing a fade haircut for a customer. A gradual blend of different lengths for the sides and back, it can take an hour to complete and involves tapering the hair from the crown to the neck to make the hairstyle look seamless. Mr Tahir
Below: Mr Tahir doing a fade haircut for a customer. A gradual blend of different lengths for the sides and back, it can take an hour to complete and involves tapering the hair from the crown to the neck to make the hairstyle look seamless. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

After nine years plying the streets as a taxi driver, Mr Tahir Aziz opted for a career U-turn that would put him a cut above the rest - he became a barber.

After attending a course that taught him the basics, Mr Tahir, 44, opened Keep It Handsome Barbershop in 2016.

Armed with two chairs and skills picked up from the course, he started snipping, making customers look good, one haircut at a time.

Business soon picked up and his small shop in Chai Chee was getting overcrowded.

In 2017, a bigger unit became available in his old stomping ground of Tampines, so Mr Tahir moved there.

The new shop, which is a block away from his mother's flat, is also surrounded by schools.

"I love Tampines, I grew up here.

"I live here and now I have a business here," Mr Tahir said.

True enough, his first few customers at the new shop were neighbours, but others flocked in from all over, and soon, the business grew.

 

Mr Tahir now has six chairs and 10 barbers, and spends more time managing the business instead of cutting hair.

His wife, Madam Zakiyah Isa, 33, chips in to help. Most days, she cooks for the barbers so they can sit down to a home-cooked meal together in front of the shop almost every night.

"Happy barbers equal happy customers," Mr Tahir said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2019, with the headline 'Opening barbershop in his backyard a winning move'. Print Edition | Subscribe