During this month’s interview we linked up with the La Section Barbershop team. Located in Vieux-Montreal, this opulent shop features a rich history and an even more promising future. La Section’s co-owners Gonz (@gonzhands) and Junior (@juniorfades) say that their mission is to bring artists together: “Even though we aren’t painters or musicians, we still use our tools to paint canvases and to tell stories; it’s about more than just cutting hair.”
Tell us about the shop’s origin story.
Junior: I’ve been cutting hair since I was 17. I decided that it was better to create my own vision and space rather than following someone else’s. I moved to Montreal from Toronto and from there I met a group of talented individuals that had a common passion and goal as me. With a lot of planning and time, we got together and opened up our first location on Saint-Catherine in 2016.
Since our first opening in 2016, we’ve blossomed and opened four more locations. There’s a La Section barbershop in Old Montreal, one on Saint-Catherine street, one in Scarborough, Ontario, and one downtown, Toronto.
What’s the work environment like? Who’s on your team?
Gonz: We have eight barbers in total at this location. We have G who’s our content creator. He has they eye for marketing and always gets the shop going when he’s on the ones and twos. Roland is definitely one best barbers in the city, and he would take everything if he were competing in barber competitions this year.
Vidjonh is one of the most talented educators. He organizes his own barbershop classes where he shares his expertise in the craft with students. He pushes our team to the next level. Mazz and Keanu are both very similar in the sense that their on the same skill level for barbering and braiding. They’re dope talent and have good future in the business ahead of them. Ozzy brings the life to the shop with his big personality and Ashley is our top braider.
Junior: We’re a family here. Every part of the team adds their special flavour to the shop
What is fvcking artist?
Gonz: G and I created a brand called the Painted Ones. It ties to pre-colonial Filipino culture. Native Filipinos were very well known for being completely covered in tribal tattoos, and when the Spanish came, they would call us ‘los pintados”–the painted ones. It’s through this big artistic aspect of Filipino history that G and I got the idea to create a line called “fvcking artist.” It’s a way for artists across the city to identify with each other.
Why the name La Section?
Junior: We were inspired by the club scene and wanted to reflect the most important part of the clubbing experience, something everyone wants a taste of–the VIP section. You sit in a nice, black leather chair behind some velvet ropes while cutting your hair. You’re in “La Section”.
Gonz: We’re people that grew up in the hood. I’m from uptown [Cote-des-Neiges] and Junior is from the east side of Toronto. We know first-hand what it’s like coming from a low-income neighbourhood, not having access to many luxuries other people can afford and take for granted. We say, ‘the hood meets luxury’ because we tie our culture [music, barbering, tattoos, clothing] in with the glitz and glamour. This way, everyone gets to be VIP at La Section.
What services do you offer
Gonz: We offer hair cutting, braiding, teeth whitening, eyebrow upkeep, and facial steaming. We also have our very own La Section merch that clients can purchase at the shop. More recently, we’ve started offering tattooing services.
Tattooing?? Tell us about that.
Junior: The pandemic really pushed us to get out of our comfort zone. It gave us the opportunity to sit back and reevaluate everything happening in the shop while we were closed. We were thinking about different ways we could improve customer service and get our clientele excited again. We needed to bring something new and special. We’re in very close contact with professional tattoo artists from Toronto that have been providing us with all the support and apprenticeship we need. It’s dope because most people wouldn’t ever expect us, barbers, to do something like this. But we are artists too and we are just as dedicated. Our goal in the future is for La Section to be a luxury barbershop that specializes in tattooing; one of a kind.