We’ve been operating in Hampstead since the 1960’s and La Gaffe has seen a lot in that time. In these sixty plus years, we’ve had the luck to meet an amazing group of local people - neighbours, customers and other businesses so we thought, why not write about some of them, even interview them and ask them how they ended up in this little corner of north London?
We’re kicking off our series with Shogo Hino, who has a hairdressing salon on Heath Street, just a stone’s throw from us and here to interview him is our social media guru, Sarah Mann, who loves nothing better than persuading people to tell her their stories…
Sarah: A little background please! You weren’t born in England, were you?
Shogo: No! I’m from Japan. I was born and raised in Chiba, which is about half an hour from Tokyo.
Sarah: And what drew you to hairdressing?
Shogo: It was a family tradition. My grandfather and mother cut hair, so my sister and I naturally followed their lead. My dad was the odd one out - but he was a carpenter so he was also creative and good with his hands. We had a family salon near Tokyo and one day - I was in my mid 20s - I was reading a magazine and read about a Japanese guy cutting hair in NYC. I made an expensive international call (no WhatsApp back then!) and consequently ended up on a plane to the United States, where I started working for a hairdresser in Scarsdale, a ritzy suburb just outside Manhattan.
Sarah: But you didn’t stay in New York?
Shogo: I only had a tourist visa and when I realised that my chances of getting a Green Card were slim (after all, I was not a famous sushi chef or kimono designer) I realised I’d have to leave. But when I talked to my father on the phone, he said “Don’t come back to Japan until you’ve achieved some measure of success.”
Sarah: So you figured you’d try your luck in London?
Shogo: Yes. After a brief stint in Manchester, I moved to the capital and checked into a youth hostel in Golders Green. Then I found a job in the Toni and Guy salon, right by the tube! The job was as an assistant but the manager quickly noticed that I could cut hair and before long I’d been promoted and had the scissors back in my hand.
Sarah: So you were back doing what you loved?
Shogo: Oh yes. And I also used to hand out flyers in Piccadilly Circus, advertising haircuts for £10, so after my day shift I’d go home to my flatshare and start cutting hair privately.
Sarah: What an entrepreneur!
Shogo: Well I knew I wanted to be independent eventually and so, about 18 years ago, I started looking for a place where I could open my own salon. I saw an advert for premises to rent on Heath Street in NW3, and because it was a walk up the hill (although only 3 minutes) it wasn’t as costly as renting on Hampstead High Street.
Sarah: And that’s how ‘Shogo’ was born?
Shogo: Indeed. And business is good - we have lots of local customers and I’m pretty much booked up, every day that I work. The pandemic was tough but luckily I had savings and people were thrilled to get their hair cut after the first lockdown!
Sarah: How did you get to know all the staff at La Gaffe?
Shogo: I started popping in for morning coffee and quickly became friends with Lorenzo, the general manager. We struck up a friendship fast and it’s endured all these years. We both love guitars, you see - and even on days he’s not in, we’re whatsapping each other about Fenders and Gibsons!
Sarah: You boys with your toys! So you consider yourself pretty settled in London?
Shogo: I can’t see myself leaving London. I’m married and raising a child here and I haven’t been back to Japan in over three years now. I’ve spent more than half my life in this country. I also have a dog and one of my ways of relaxing is to take him out to Hampstead Heath for walks…
Sarah: Lorenzo tells me you’re truly one of the most talented individuals he knows…an incredible hairdresser, a mind-blowing guitar player, a fantastic musician and a gifted and innovative videographer.
Shogo: Well, thank you Lorenzo for the compliment. Yes, I love magic and guitars and, it’s true, as well as cutting hair, I’m now making videos professionally, both for businesses and individuals.
Sarah: I hear you made one for La Gaffe a while ago featuring the cappuccino machine. It seems that the rumours are correct, and you really are one talented guy.
Shogo: Thanks. Look, I feel very lucky. I have two professions that I love tremendously. The guy at the airport border control asked me, a while ago, what I did for a living and I said: ‘I don’t work - I have hobbies. They just happen to bring me income.”
Sarah: Shogo and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Perhaps you can make another video for La Gaffe soon - what about locals and their guitars?
Shogo: Now that’s an idea…
Hair by Shogo
106 Heath Street,
London NW3 1DR
+44 20 7431-7546