Like so many barbershops across the country, Sir Shave Barber Parlor is at the heart of its community — a place to define and refine style, trade stories, banter and connect. But Sir Shave has been transforming more than looks since it opened in 2018 at The Plaza at Wyandanch on the north side of the Long Island Rail Road station. It is transforming the barbershop experience, welcoming women, offering specialized natural hair services and skin treatments and transforming lives.
Keith Banks, 59, Sir Shave president and owner, is putting a twist — actually, hundreds of twists — on the old-school barbershop model.
“When I was making my business plan, I thought, ‘What can I do that is going to be more giving to the community, create more conversation, provide more reliable service, be more appetizing to the clientele?’ ” says Banks, who works full-time as a relationship banker with City National Bank. “I first thought about a salon, but I looked at the chemicals and I didn’t want that. Then I looked at barbershops and I thought, ’Let’s look at the components where men and women can intersect.’ ”
The result is a “barber parlor” for “ladies and gents,” an elegant, full-service personal grooming space of retro leather and chrome barber chairs where a client can get a cut, a hot towel shave with facial and even a shoe shine, but also a manicure, signature grooming products, a wool fedora or be fitted for a hand-tailored suit.
Banks puts a premium on respect. “No profanity is allowed,” says Banks. “There is no hanging out waiting your turn; 90% of our service is by appointment only, so when you get here you are usually in the chair within five minutes.” Even the music is curated to keep it family-friendly.
Ayesha Lyte, 35, of Wheatley Heights, is in the chair every week to keep her light Caesar — a close cut on the sides with horizontal bangs in the front — on point. Nine of her extended family members, including her two sons and husband, come to Sir Shave’s master barber, Pedro Vides, 37, for their cuts.
“The atmosphere, the professionalism, that’s a big thing,” she says, as Vides sharpens her part. “Everyone treats you with respect … Here, you can have a relationship with your barber on a personal level, because they are not in a hurry for the next person waiting. They get to know you.”
The clientele is diverse at Sir Shave; on a recent Friday, women, men and children with a wide spectrum of hair textures and skin tones streamed in and out. Many are drawn by Sir Shave’s experts honoring the curls and kinks of textured hair and the specific needs of melanin-rich skin. They visit the shop for braids and instant locs (a cultivated variation of dreadlocks) as well as treatments for hyperpigmentation and razor bump extraction.
Niomi Allison, 17, a senior at West Babylon High School, was getting a two-strand twist. “I run track,” says the aspiring college student, as stylist Diondra Horsey, 33, meticulously gels and twists dozens of strands into smooth, tight ropes. “I am doing it to be able to manage my hair better; this will make it quick and easy.”
Horsey started braiding for her family as a kid, commuting to Harlem to one of the few schools specializing in natural hair to professionalize. Now she and the staff are helping aspiring youths locally. Sir Shave is currently partnering with Wyandanch Memorial High School to bring apprentices to the barber parlor. “We already have a girl who has been here,” says Horsey. “We are super-excited to start the apprentice program.”
The parlor has started Sir Shave Cares Inc. a 503b nonprofit, to expand the high school program. Additionally, Sir Shave provides free services to cancer patients and survivors through Mondays at Racine Cancer Care Charter.
For Keith Banks, whose parents once had a business in this same Wyandanch area, this is a culmination of his business experience and his desire to make a difference. “These are the things we do that most shops don’t,” he says. “We have to make sure we can always be there for our kids because they are our future.”
10 Station Dr., Unit 7, Wyandanch; 631-213-2078, thesirshave.com