Step into “Top Cuts Barber” shop to get your hair shaped, lined up and faded with barber, Danny Malala, who recently took up premises in town after working out of home in Vaivase Tai for the past two years.
Word of mouth and social media has kept this Barber busy enough to take his craft into the central business district of Apia and also earned him a nomination at the 2017 S.B.N. Business Innovation and Young Entrepreneur awards for best online Presence - Health and Beauty Services.
His reputation for “sharp, clean cuts with seamless fades” have earned him a large and loyal following online not just in Samoa, but from American Samoa, to New Zealand, Australia, and even as far as the U.S.A. with expats making sure to book with Danny for their yearly visits to Samoa.
New clients from overseas was one of the reasons Danny decided it was time to find a more central place for business.
“I’ve moved into this place because it’s more central for people, especially tourists from like, New Zealand and Australia. I have a Facebook page and so people are trying to find me and telling them I was in Vaivase Tai was a little harder for them to find.”
You could say that Danny was born with silver shears in his hand because he is a third generation barber. Barbering is something that was passed on through his paternal family line and over the past 13 years, he has perfected his craft and developed his own unique style.
“Barbering runs in my family. My grandfather, Galu Taito Te’u, was a famous barber here and my dad, Ot Malala, was a barber in the military. When I was growing up I was always at the barber shop watching them and learning from them. Then after that, I would cut the boys hair from school and then family members and then it became my thing.”
Moving from American Samoa to New Zealand and then a stint in Australia afforded the 32-year-old barber the opportunities to learn different techniques and learn different styles which have given him the edge here in Samoa.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 years and I used to work at hairdressers in Australia, so being involved with Palagi barbers as well helped me with learning new techniques and keeping up to date with the new hair styles.
I also look online at what’s new and up and coming so that I stay fresh. There are a lot of picky guys out there who tell me they need a certain hairstyle and then when they come back they change their minds and they want something else. So I have to keep up with the styles.
“Sometimes they need to be consistent here in Samoa. Hopefully I’d be able to teach at a barbering school that teaches authentic traditional barbering with all the hygiene as well as using the good quality tools. Because the people overseas, they want the same thing when they come here. They guys tell me that they feel like it’s just like back home in New Zealand.”
Danny has been in the business long enough to know that a good fade can change a man’s life.
“A simple cut can make a difference. I don’t mean to be sad, but a good cut can make all the difference to an unattractive person. If they keep coming back and maintaining that cut, the more he feels confident.”
According to the Top Cuts barber, repeat clientele is based on two key things, one is creating an environment that ensures a good experience for the client and the other is going the extra mile for your client.
“One of my clients, he was losing hair and then I told him ‘sole try coconut oil, apply it every day’ now he’s got his hair back and he’s real confident. I’m like, okay coconut oil and confident that’s the one sole. I think that’s why he keeps coming back now.
“A barbershop is a good place for men to come hang out, come watch the news, get more information. Right now, I think barber shops have become more popular. But I think they need to be more serious about it. They need to make it a good environment. When the guys come in they need to make it a place for them to relax, let their hair out. Just like how the women do in the hair salons.”
Traditionally, hair salon culture for women is a place to relax, rejuvenate and debrief with other women about what is confronting them currently in their lives.
So what do guys talk about in the barber shop? The question draws loud laughter from Danny and his clients, but according to him, it’s the same, but different.
“There is a definite hair culture here now. When I set up, I actually talk to my clients and the guys here tell me ‘sole the other barbers don’t even talk to me, I just sit in the chair and fall asleep’, I think, really? good barbers are like therapists, sports analysts and food critics or whatever. That’s why I think my clients keep coming back because I talk to them and we just catch up. It’s all about the experience.”
As the owner operator of Top Cuts, the business revolves around Danny’s style. His cool, calm laid back outlook adds to the “man cave” sanctuary that keep his clients returning. His goals this year are pretty simple and he adds he would like to see more men support their local barbers.
“All I want to do is keep serving the men out there who need to look good for their wives, side chicks and everyone so they can come back and have more stories to tell in the barber shop,” laughs Danny.
“The other thing too is that I’m trying to introduce other local barbers and get people to support them. Other barbers come to me for a haircut and watch what I do. One last thing, support your local barbers and always look fresh!”
Top Cuts Barbershop is located across from Ace Hardware Store. It’s between Lucky Food town and Blue bird. Follow him on Facebook “Top Cuts Barber684” to contact him.
The shop is open six days a week from 9am to 5pm.
Mornings are usually reserved for appointments only and walk ins are welcome after 12pm until 5pm.