After a long journey, barber is pursuing his passion in Park City
Styles highlight individuals’ faces
M. Todd Gonnerman is bringing the art of hairstyling and barbering back one client at a time at Park City Barber Shop at Deer Valley Plaza.
Gonnerman, who opened his 600-square-foot parlor in November, offers an array of hair cutting services that includes luxury precision cuts, shaves and beard shaping by appointment only on Mondays, as well as Wednesdays through Saturdays.
“There is this whole history of men’s hairstyling from the 1950s to the 1980s where it was extremely popular, skilled, artistic and done for the individual,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is nonexistent, because barbershops today cut hair by numbers. The hairstyles either look the same, or people want their hair to look like photos they see.”
The issue with these mass-produced coifs is the barber doesn’t take the client’s features into consideration, according to Gonnerman.
“They don’t make the individual look the best he can,” he said.
To remedy that, Gonnerman starts each appointment with a consultation, where he discusses the hairstyle that would look best on the client.
The appointments also include shampoo and conditioner, air jet dry, a neck shave and work on eyebrows, ears and noses.
“What I do is cut patterns into the hair, so I design a pattern while I’m looking at you,” he said. “Once you have the hairstyle you want, if you come in every three weeks, I can make it look the same.”
Gonnerman takes the same care during the shaves and beard shaping.
The shaves, which are done with Japanese straight razors, come with a hot towel treatment, a face cleanse, hydration and an aftershave splash.
“This is a 6,000-year-old art form,” Gonnerman said. “I use hand-whipped European shaving foam and stick with traditional shaving techniques that goes all the way down to how to hold a razor.”
The beard trimming includes the shaving service, he said.
“I lather the beard and wet-cut it with scissors,” he said. “I do a lot of beard trims in Park City. Mountain men like their beards. They grow it into a huge mass, and then I shape it.”
These services are carried out on luxury barber chairs and shampoo bowls handcrafted in Japan by the Takara Belmont company, according to Gonnerman.
“They are all automatic, and extremely comfortable,” he said. “Everything is done in a nice spacious place so people won’t feel crammed.”
Gonnerman also cleans the space and all of his tools between appointments.
“I take 30 minutes to sanitize the chair, instruments and room,” he said. “And I also make sure I have a fresh supply of laundered capes and linens.”
Gonnerman’s journey to barbering started after his career as a percussionist and restaurant manager.
“After I got out of high school I got involved in teaching drums, and taught drumlines for marching bands at Kansas University, University of Louisiana Lafayette and the University of Colorado,” he said. “I would also teach private lessons, and work with high schools.”
Gonnerman worked in the bar and restaurant industry to make “real money,” he said with a laugh.
“I got heavily involved in management at high-end restaurants and lounges and consulting, and I even did a stint as a club DJ for four years,” he said. “After all that, I made a decision. I hit my late 30s and didn’t want to be in the bar and restaurant scene forever. I didn’t want to be in the nightclubs.”
Gonnerman returned to school to finish up an education degree at Peru State College in Lincoln, Nebraska, but realized teaching wasn’t what he wanted to do.
“I started looking for different options and found the barbering field,” he said. “It had a little bit of everything I liked. There is technique and skill involved, and there’s the aspect of being able to teach. Plus, I like old stuff, and since barbering has been around forever, I can collect antiques.”
Gonnerman’s first intention was to attend barber school, open a barbershop and manage a staff of barbers.
“That would allow me more flexibility and creative time for music,” he said.
Gonnerman looked for barber schools across the country and around the globe.
“I looked nationally and internationally for a school taught by a teacher who was a successful barber, but I found that was very not much the case,” he said.
One day Gonnerman came across an article on the Art of Manliness website that listed Hite Hair Fashion, a barbershop in Salt Lake City that was run by Thamer “Tim” Hite, an older, successful teacher in old-school men’s hairstyling.
“I came out and visited the school and met the instructors, and after I finished my semester, I came back to Salt Lake to take his classes,” Gonnerman said. “I told myself I wasn’t going to get any preconceived notions about hair, barbering, men’s hairstyling or hair cutting. I was going to let the guy who has been doing this for 70 years tell me how it is.”
During those classes, Gonnerman decided to open a one-man barber shop that specialized in classical men’s hairstyling, and ever the student, he went on to discover other luxury-cut and shaving pioneers such as the late Jay Sebring and Edmund Roffler.
“Sebring’s idea is to cut hair so it falls naturally into an oval shape without loading it up with a lot of products,” Gonnerman said. “His idea is the face has a shape, called the light outline, and the face with your hair has a shape that is called the dark outline. So, I can manipulate your face shape with your hair.”
The Roffler method was invented in Paris in the 1940s, and brought to New York for Broadway actors.
“New York businessmen began seeing these actors with great hair styles, and wanted the same thing, so Edmund Roffler franchised the whole thing,” Gonnerman said.
Gonnerman learned these techniques through such hairstylists as David Hansen, Henry Fanco, Boyd Newby and Armando Medina.
As an added bonus, Gonnerman also creates custom hair pieces, but the supply chains for the hair and base materials have been in short supply.
“What usually took six weeks now takes a year or more,” he said. “I originally wanted to do hair pieces full time, but then the supply chains broke down. So, I’m very lucky this space opened up. The past six years has been a tedious journey to get to where I am.”
Where: 1375 Deer Valley Dr., Suite 103
Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Mondays; Wednesdays through Saturdays
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