A Barbershop That’s a Cut Above

Birds Barbershop is an Austin mainstay, offering beer, music, and arcade games in addition to affordable cuts.
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If you find yourself with unruly hair in Austin, Texas, be sure to pay a visit to Birds Barbershop. Founded in 2006 by childhood friends Jayson Rapaport and Michael Portman, the project updates the traditional notion of a barbershop and infuses it with Austin’s famously eclectic style. Birds Barbershop now boasts eight locations throughout the city, and another is slated to open in Houston very soon. Though the company has grown rapidly, Rapaport and Portman have upheld the culture, remaining committed to top-notch haircuts at affordable prices, contributing to the local community, and placing employees at the center of the business.

Birds Barbershop at Rock Rose is the salon's eighth location in Austin. The Houston site, also designed by Mark Odom Studio, will have an "old-school urban" theme.

Earlier this spring, the most recent salon opened in The Domain, an upscale shopping destination in North Austin. Birds Barbershop on Rock Rose was part of a development of predominantly local businesses added in line with the city’s mantra, "Keep Austin Weird." Designed by Mark Odom Studio, a local firm involved in four other Birds locations, the Rock Rose venue playfully references a prep aesthetic.

Mark Odom worked with artist Phillip Niemeyer to choose patterns, colors, and materials for the interior.  Odom describes it as "a playful spin on refined, traditionally 'preppy' games like croquet, badminton, and polo."

"We’re always interested in incorporating materials in an unexpected manner." - Mark Odom

Badminton birdies are mounted above the waiting area.

Artificial turf and croquet balls add texture and personality to the reception desk.

"The owners are ideal clients that embrace artistic passion both as individuals and as a company," says Mark Odom, studio founder. Through a "creative, energetic collaboration," he worked with Rapaport, Portman, and artist Phillip Niemeyer to abstract the theme. The bold wallpaper uses flamingoes and foliage to break up an otherwise traditional stripe pattern, and vintage sports paraphernalia are embedded in the decor. "We’re always interested in incorporating materials in an unexpected manner," says Odom.

Birds Barbershop offers its employees competitive pay, health insurance, a retirement plan, and ongoing education. Employees get free haircuts and are promoted from within.

Getting a haircut at Birds Barbershop is an equally novel experience. Guests who are of drinking age can enjoy complimentary Shiner beer while they wait, or play a vintage arcade game. The salon has hosted musical performances as well, bringing in big names like Lykke Li and King Khan & the Shrines. Though Birds has been named "Best Haircut" by The Austin Chronicle every year since it’s been open, the accolades haven’t changed the no-fuss feel: walk-ins are welcome, and haircuts range from $15 for a buzzcut to $45 for longer cuts.

"We were able to bring [the turf] outside the space and as a result, the sidewalk and street presence is completely different from anything else on Rock Rose," says Odom. 

For more information about Birds Barbershop, visit their website.


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