Listen to a Londoner: Jay Barrett

Jay Barrett

Jay is the owner and director of Neighbourhood hair salon. Bringing a pocket of Shoreditch cool to Earl’s Court, Neighbourhood not only has a quirky interior complete with antlers and copies of Wallpaper magazine, it’s a lot of fun to get your hair cut there. Jay cuts mine, so I asked him to interview for LLO, of course.

Read on for stories about some of London’s diverse characters, some of Jay’s favourite places to hang out near Earl’s Court and which Londoner’s hair he’d most like to get his hands on.

LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
JB: Although originally a northern lad, I mainly grew up in Essex – the style centre of the UK – but gravitated to London like most creative folk at the tender age of 17 to join Toni & Guy. I started London life in a dodgy bedsit in Willesden Green with an aging hooker, an alcoholic and a schizophrenic landlady who frightened the life out of me, but were genuinely the nicest people on the planet.

LLO: You opened your hair salon in Earl’s Court in 2009. Tell us a bit about the vibe of Neighbourhood. What’s its “personality” like?
JB: We originally opened the salon under the name of ‘Concrete’ but because of legal reasons were forced to change the name after our first year. So after a busy Saturday with a glass of wine, we all set to thinking of a new name, and I remember saying to the team: “The name has to be something that reflects all of our clients’ personalities in the neighbourhood.” Thus Neighbourhood was born, so its personality comes from all the colourful characters that made it really.


LLO: Tell us a bit about your clientele.
JB: We’ve attracted a really diverse clientele, mainly because I think people like the concept of going to a friendly local salon, and not necessarily just on a professional level, but with each other. More often than not, there’ll be laughter and banter going on between clients and I’ll stand back and think you’re a banker, you’re a single mum, you’re a singer and you’re a student all on the same level having a giggle. That’s pretty cool.

LLO: You must hear all the gossip from the area. Without giving away any names, what’s the best story you’ve heard recently?
JB: Blimey, I could write a soap opera on all that goes on in Neighbourhood, who’s linked to who, etc.. but I can’t divulge any recent stuff. We have a ‘what’s said in the salon, stays in the salon’ policy out of respect. My favorite though was a regular married couple who booked simultaneous appointments one Saturday morning, only to discover his mistress of six months sitting there having highlights, which no one knew about. It was definitely a ‘hide the scissors’ Jeremy Kyle moment  !!

LLO: What sort of products do you use in the salon?
JB: We’re are exclusively a L’Oréal salon, using Serie Expert, which is the salon professional range of shampoos, conditioners and treatments. They’re more cost effective than Kerastase. Last year we introduced the Innoa colour range into the salon, which are ammonia-free and are amazing. No smell, no stains and glossy, healthy hair after..


LLO: How long have you lived in Earl’s Court? Tell us about your favourite little gems within walking distance from the salon. 
JB: I’ve been here for eight years now, and while it seems everything has shifted East, there’s some great little gems around here: The Devonshire Arms for chilled Sunday roasts with the papers or friends. Evans & Peel Detective Agency for lethally good cocktails. The Troubadour is also a bit of a gem, for chilling with a coffee, sharing a bottle of wine in their secret garden in Summer or watching a gig downstairs.

LLO: What was the biggest challenge you have had to face in setting up a business in London and how did you overcome it? Most rewarding aspect of your job?
JB: Probably my own naivety (ha ha)! After a lot of begging with the bank to get finance, negotiations on the shop lease dragged on for five months, so the entire loan was swallowed by three party’s solicitor’s costs. I literally had an empty shop without a penny to put anything in it, so it was furnished with eBay and a credit card. I also became a master builder, plumber, tiler, plasterer, decorator overnight. That was pretty rewarding, but I will leave it to the professionals next time!

LLO: Best place in London for food and drinks away from the tourist trail?
JB: The Betsey Trotwood on Farringdon Road, EC1, is the best hidden gem in London.

LLO: Which Londoner’s hair would you love to cut and why? What would it look like when you finished?
JB: Definitely would have to be Victoria Beckham! She’s a girl with her finger firmly on the style pulse, and whether you like her or hate her, clients copy her look time and time again. Maybe it’s time to edge her up a bit with a wig and see how many Twitter followers copy it overnight (ha ha)!

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
JB: SOUTHBANK!! Winter, Summer, rain or shine, there’s always something random going on that opens your eyes a little bit more. It’s also the perfect place to just sit people watch.

Thanks Jay!

60 Kenway Raod,  London SW5 0RA
Nearest tube: Earl’s Court
020 7373 9666

Listen to a Londoner: Cemay Ilgu

Listen to a Londoner is a weekly interview with a Londoner – someone who lives in this city, born here or elsewhere. If you’re up for being interviewed, email

Cemay Ilgu, 28

Cemay has just moved back to London after seven years in North Cyprus and is very excited about it! She can’t wait to introduce the delights of London to her husband Berat and son Onur, as well as the newborn they are expecting any day now.

LLO:  Which part of London are you most familiar with and what’s the best thing about it?
CI: I guess Hampstead High Street, which has a lot of great childhood memories for me. The best thing about it is the combination of little pavement cafes and cute little boutiques – it’s not the most affordable of places, but it has a certain ambience that I like every now and then.

LLO: I’ve got one night in London and want to stay away from the tourist trail. Where would you recommend I go to eat and drink?
CI: Ah, there are so many places! But I guess the one place I know that has it all is The North Pole Bar, in Greenwich. You start off in the main bar for a pre-dinner drink, then go up to the Piano Restaurant, and then if you have the energy after the gorgeous food (or you just want to work it off!) you can go down to the South Pole Club and dance the night away! It’s a complete night out in one venue.

LLO: You’ve got a small son and another one due this week! Where’s the best place in London to take the kiddies?
CI: We took Onur, who’s now 21 months, to the Science Museum last month and he adored it. It’s great fun for the kids but they also get to learn stuff – a perfect combination!

LLO: After living abroad for quite a while and coming back to us, where’s the best place in London to go to get a taste of the food you’d find near your other home in Cyprus?
CI: Absolutely without a doubt it’s Kervan Sofrasi Restaurant, on Hertford Road in Edmonton. Not only is the food affordable, but it’s just outstanding quality. If you like Turkish food, I could recommend no better place.

LLO: Where’s your favourite bakery in London and the best thing they serve?
CI: I am a sucker for Pain au Chocolat, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than they serve at Maison Blanc, on Hampstead High Street.

LLO: You’re about to move house. Any flat-hunting tips for people just moving to the city?
CI: Don’t stick to just one agency and try not to limit yourself too much in terms of area – London has a fabulous public transport system and you’re always within reach of somewhere with great transport links – the best properties are often found a little way off the beaten track.

LLO: A new home means decorating… What are the best London shops to deck out the new place?
CI: For us normal folks, you can’t go wrong with Ikea! I’ll be honest, that’s where I have done most of my shopping! But I mixed and matched with bits and pieces I’ve found in places like Camden market, and charity shops are also great for sourcing one off pieces – we once found a 70’s style padded cocktail bar for a bargain £20!

LLO: Best place in London to go on a romantic date (when you get someone to watch the little ones!)?
CI: One of my favourite places that appeals to the Princess Jasmine in me is Pasha, on Gloucester Road. It feels really decadent. The food is exquisite, mostly Moroccan/Middle-Eastern cuisine, but it’s just a lovely, romantic place – all soft lighting and belly dancing!

LLO: What excites you most about being in London again?
CI: Honestly? The diversity and vibrancy, the way that you could do something new, eat something new, discover something new every day for years on end and never get bored! Very different to North Cyprus!

LLO: Favourite London discovery?
CI: A little Italian restaurant called Polpo on Beak Street in Soho. It’s tiny – seats about 50 people, and it doesn’t take bookings so you just kind of turn up and wait, but the food is out of this world – served in small tapas-like portions so you can try a bit of everything, and it’s a really lovely place to socialise with friends, so different as it’s designed to be like a Venetian wine bar. A fabulous little find! Prices are pretty reasonable too for London.

Thanks Cem!

For more Listen to a Londoner posts, click here.