Saddling up in a barber’s chair for a cut or trim is something that’s not usually in the grooming books for the ladies but Maria Quek, is bad*ss on the other side of seat. When it comes to making men look more handsome and sharp, Maria here has touched many heads. A barber for more than 16 years, this razor-wielding lass is one of the snazziest cut masters around and we’re giving major props to her for being in a testosterone-heavy environment; in one of the coolest men’s grooming salons in Singers, The Panic Room. We made an appointment with Maria for a tour around the too-cool-it-hurts shop and to find out more about what makes her a cut above the rest.
Hi Maria! Can you tell us more about the story of how you became a barber?
Hi! I’ve been a barber for 16 years now. I was previously in and out of jobs, and was very young at that time and was still looking for a voice and an identity. So when my mother told me about a barbershop lease opening at SAFTI Military Institute, I decided to take the opportunity. I was there for a good 15 years and it has made me the barber that I am today.
Wow that’s amazing! What’s the difference of working in a salon compared to working in a barbershop?
Well, working in a salon and barbershop is pretty much the same. Wherever you are, people will feel the need to belong.
As one of the barbers in The Panic Room, what do you feel you bring to the craft of barbering and to each client you serve?
Hmm… I think I’m like the naggy ol’ cow surrounded by an eclectic mix of personalities.
How does it feel like being a part of one of the coolest barbershops in Singapore?
Regardless of whether it’s cool or not, I’m just happy to be a part of Panic Room – a handsome maker!
Okay, be honest… do the boys treat you well?
Let’s just say that I’ll never be ‘one of the guys’.
How does it feel like being a woman in a male-dominated environment?
It feels good to know that I’ve made it this far, despite the fact that many people that have tried to put me down along the way – or they think that women should not be made to do a “man’s work”.
Is there a particular type of hair style that you like to cut?
I’ve always liked the freedom of creativity in barbering and have never limited myself to a particular type of cut or style.
Where does the joy in barbering come for you?
To me, the joy in barbering comes from making all my clients look good, and feel good. It’s like an addiction. When you see the joy and satisfaction in their faces after the cut and styling, to me, that’s a job well done.
If someone told you that you had two minutes to grab some of your tools because you had to get out of the shop immediately, what would you take first?
My tools are my craft! You can’t make me choose. If that happens, I’ll either run out with all my tools or nothing at all!
If you were a pomade, what kind would you be?
If I was a pomade, I’d be the Imperial Gel Pomade, ‘economy size’. It smells like tutti frutti and it’s a blast to experiment with! Take your pick – slick or bouncy?
What do you feel is the “Golden Rule” for every barber to know by heart and to live by?
I’ve never lived by rules. But to quote Zig Ziglar, “Doing your best is more important than being the best”.
Do you have any advice for young girls who’d like to pursue a career in barbering?
My advice is to young girls is: at the end of the day, the art and craft of barbering will always be male-dominated, so it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize!
Lastly, where do you see yourself in five years, Maria?
Like a nomad, I go wherever the wind takes me. *chuckles*
Wow, thanks Maria! You’re a real inspiration to all us Sassy Girls! Special thanks to the vivacious Shamsydar Ani Photography for the awesome images of Maria!