Leo, Owner of Leo’s Barber Shop
If you know the square in Hinchley Wood, then you’ll know that it’s home to a number of hidden gems – one of which is Leo’s Barber Shop. Here we meet its owner, Leo, who talks about his Sicilian roots, fatherhood and his penchant for gossip.
I’ve been cutting hair for almost two decades now. I started when I was 17 and I’m now 35 – although I only opened up this shop when I was 27.
Before I opened there wasn’t a single barbers in the area; mine was the first in Hinchley Wood, believe it or not. At the time I was living at home. I was young and had nothing to lose. I also had some savings and no mortgage, which made it easier. So I took a gamble on the basis that I could go back home if it didn’t work out.
When I first opened I honestly didn’t think I’d be that busy. I hadn’t even established opening hours – I just thought I’d open when I felt like it! From day one I was rammed to the point where I couldn’t handle it. I was even sending people home on the first day. Three months later I took someone on and I was away.
These days there are three of us: me, Paulo and Dan. Other than that the major change is that we now take bookings, which is something we had to do during the pandemic. It makes it safer as there’s less people in at the same time, but sadly you don’t get the same level of banter anymore. It’s definitely changed a lot, but people are less inclined to sit around and wait these days. They want convenience. Before the pandemic I’d have people waiting 2 – 3 hours for a cut. They were even queuing out of the door!
It was pretty tough when we were told to close. I was shut for 10 months, which is a long time. I went from cutting hair to cutting the grass, decorating and refurbishing the shop. Although as a new dad I’m pretty well occupied. I used to spend my time playing Call of Duty. Now it just sits there gathering dust as my son, Salve, keeps me busy.
My parents are Sicilian and I speak fluent Sicilian, so we try to get over there as much as we can. It has great food, great beaches and great weather. It’s a different way of life over there. Still, I’m pretty happy with life over here, too. I just wish we had better weather.
The Hinchley Wood community is great. Without them I wouldn’t be here so I have a lot to thank the residents for. Being a barber you pretty much get to know everyone by name, too – and I have hundreds, possibly thousands, of customers. One of the perks of being a barber is that you get to hear all the local gossip – and spread the news. It’s also nice to help make your customers feel fresh for the week. A haircut always cheers you up, so it’s great to have a hand in that.
Leo’s Barber Shop. 5 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher KT10 0SP