Over the last year or so many of us have succumbed to passing any spare time at home with a bit of baking, the odd spot of DIY and probably far too much Netflix we’d like to admit. We certainly haven’t all managed to get a children’s book published while having not long also welcomed a child into the family. Hats off here to Mr Jason Biggs, our apparently tireless Lead Master Barber at Murdock Manhattan.
Jason runs the show at our flagship US barbershop within the Nordstrom Men’s Store and as The Big Apple starts to re-emerge to its familiar self post-lockdown, we wanted to check in with our man across the pond to discuss his creativity throughout lockdown, the inspiration behind his new book and where men’s grooming trends are heading for 2022.
Hi Jason! It sounds like you’ve had one heck of a busy year. Please tell us a bit about your book and what inspired this great project
“The idea for the book began through conversations with my clients. Many of them encouraged me to share my stories as a barber but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to write. Then once lockdown happened I focused on the bond I was forming with my son and decided to tell our story. I took the time being home to write the story, illustrate it and turn it into a physical product. The book is called ‘My Daddy Cuts My Hair’ and is a personal account of the relationship between me and my son, told through the lens of me being his barber.”
How do you see the book being helpful for other parents?
“This book is a passion project that tells my personal story but also encourages other parents and their children to talk about a child's first experience of getting a haircut. It’s a significant life event, so this can help parents ease their child in to that first haircut by showing them a story from the child’s perspective. At the same time it gives parents a great way to connect with their child through reading and fun learning.”
What do you think is so special about barbering for it to have sparked such a significant bond with your son?
“Barbering I feel is a very intimate profession that requires skill and patience. This also translates to what is needed for being a parent, so for me there is a natural connection between fatherhood and barbering. Learning what each of my client’s needs are day-to-day in the barbershop helps me be able to adjust to the various needs of my son at home. (Plus I want him to have a cool haircut for life!)”
Has any other activity shared together come close to this?
“Besides just spending quality time with my son, barbering is something that I make a point to help him learn about. Sometimes we watch YouTube tutorials on barbering and he seems very interested. Even if my son never wants to be a barber, I want him to know the culture, his way around a shop and also be able to take pride in his appearance and self care.”
Did you manage to pick up any other lockdown hobbies, or has the book been relatively all-consuming?
“Most of my lockdown was spent working on the book and educating myself on how to successfully get it published. I did though also manage to find some time at home to better my skills as a barber; whether it was learning new shear techniques or how to apply specific products. I felt like lockdown was the perfect opportunity to be able to add a broader skill set to my palette.”
What makes the Murdock Manhattan barbershop a must-visit for guys in NYC?
“We are the only place in America to offer the Murdock London barbershop experience which includes traditional wet shaves, fades, trims, beard grooming and more. Our unique one chair setup within Nordstrom’s flagship menswear store also offers our customers a more personal, relaxed experience right in the heart of the city.”
Do you have a favourite Murdock product and is there anything in the pipeline that you are working on?
“The Sea Salt Spray is a big hit with my clients in NYC. They love the styling ability and multipurpose uses of the sea salt texture. I’m hoping to soon start working on a dedicated styling cream for anyone with a more textured, curly pattern. This will be a great addition to the current product lineup and work really well for our clients with Afro hair.”
How important do you think it is for barbers to be directly involved in the creation process of men’s grooming products?
“It is very important because we have the best vantage point of hair! Barbers see thousands of different hair types and styles each year and who better to know how to speak to a client's genuine needs than the person who has been cutting their hair?”
What men’s grooming trends are you starting to see in NYC coming out of lockdown? And where do you see things going for men’s hairstyles and beards in 2022?
“With things returning closer to full speed, I have noticed customers paying more attention to the state of their beards again. I think facial hair upkeep soon dropped off for a lot of guys who were left to their own devices at home. Here in NYC we appreciate sharp, detailed lines on our hairlines and beards and that has been a major focus for guys coming back to the barbershop. I’ve also seen a lot of people cut off the long locks they grew during quarantine and return to shorter styles such as skin fades and tapers. I believe the trend of shorter styles will only continue through the year heading into 2022!”
Which New York favourites did you miss the most during lockdown?
“One of my favourite places to buy clothes is Century 21 which completely closed down during lockdown which was quite sad as it was a great tourist attraction as well, but it looks like they’re already set to make a comeback - ‘Never count out a New Yorker!’. Most of the places I like to eat remained open luckily. I’m confident the city will rebuild to its best.”
Where would you recommend anybody with 24 hours in NYC must visit/eat/drink?
“I would recommend Blue Bird at St-Columbus Circle which offers great French cuisine. Also Katz's Deli on E Houston St speaks for itself and has some of the most amazing sandwiches in the city. You can also visit me at Nordstrom on West 57th Street for a haircut, then browse all things fashion, grooming and fragrance!”
To book an appointment with Jason at Murdock Manhattan, visit Nordstrom Men's Store, 235 West 57th Street NYC or call (212) 843-5100
‘My Daddy Cuts My Hair’, written by Jason is now available in book stores (UK)