Sitting in Ivan Q’s Barber Shop chair, with pomade slicked in his hair and King Talc powder slapped on his cheeks, the barber’s client gets his monthly haircut in a place that feels like it’s from a different time.
Ragtime piano plays through the ceiling and a complete set of sterling straight razors and hair products rest on a small shelf, reminiscent of the 1950s.
Ivan Quezada, the 40-year-old owner and sole barber in the Westwood Village shop, is also dressed in a style from a bygone decade. His vintage spectacles, short-sleeved cream smock and gold scissor-shaped tie clip show his commitment to his craft.
“I can do newer, hipper haircuts,” Quezada said as he carefully trimmed his client’s straight brown hair and whisked the extra strands from his neck with a flick of his wrist. “But I like to do a more classic, tailored cut.”
Quezada opened his one-chair barbershop on Saturday in the Phenix Salon Suites on Glendon Avenue, across the street from Trader Joe’s. With appointments only, he offers services such as a “Classic Gentleman’s Haircut” for $45, a two-hour haircut and shave for $85 and a beard trim for $20. His barbershop is one of two in Westwood Village, the other being Oakley’s Barber Shop. It’s the only single-chair shop.
His clients said they appreciate the way Quezada caters to a male demographic, unlike most salons.
“Salons are very effeminate,” said Allen Dial, 39, who came to Quezada’s grand opening in the Village on Saturday. “Ivan gives (you) a male cut.”
Quezada’s dedication to good service stems from his own negative experiences at salons and barbershops in the past, he said.
Barbers would accidentally clip his ears and face during his haircut or shave, but wouldn’t tell him immediately.
“That’s unacceptable,” he said, shaking his head. “I knew I could do a better job.”
He began cutting hair two years ago at various salons and barbershops in Los Angeles, and left his previous job at a North Hollywood shop so he could be his own boss.
Quezada worked numerous jobs before becoming a barber. More than 14 years ago, he worked as a school bus driver until the hours became too long and arduous.
And just before he became a barber, he drove hearses to and from funerals. While working as a hearse driver, he became intrigued with the way people designed caskets. He sanded and furnished the caskets for a few months before he built them on his own, and worked doing that for two years.
Eventually, he switched to haircutting when his position at the casket shop wasn’t progressing the way he wanted it to. In January 2012, he got his barber’s license after attending Western Barber Institute in Panorama City.
“I wasn’t able to move up, so I moved on,” Quezada said.
He said he always liked creating things with his hands, and studied hard to be a barber – despite mistakes early on.
One of Quezada’s first clients came to him asking for just a small trim on the sides of his head, nothing too dramatic.
But Quezada accidentally took things too far.
“I completely balded one side off,” he said, laughing. “But he really liked it, and to this day he’s still my client with the same haircut.”
Quezada has several clients from his previous jobs who now come to his Westwood location, including UCLA alumnus Herbert Chanez.
The 28-year-old started coming to Quezada about two months ago, and said Quezada gave him more attention than any barber he’d been to before.
The last time he went, he told Quezada he wanted a haircut without feeling hurried.
Although Chanez has no facial hair, Quezada added the time it would take him to do a beard shave – about one and a half hours total – at no extra charge.
“It’s the longest haircut I’ve ever sat through, but it’s definitely been the best,” Chanez said with a laugh. “Other barbers try to rush, and they do it wrong.”
Quezada likes the way he can give attentive service to his clients in his single-chair store, but he said he hopes to add another chair and some new employees by the end of next year.
The long path to becoming a barber with his own shop took lots of patience and passion, he said. But now, he’s ready to get to work.
“I think I finally found my niche,” he said, smiling.