“I arrived in Footscray from Vietnam in 1992 and spent most of my childhood here when it was really rough,” says Ken Tu. “To be honest, my life could have easily gone off the rails – but learning hairdressing when I was 17 years old was what saved me.”
Ken started his hairdressing apprenticeship at Toni and Guy and spent almost nine years with them before switching to barbering in 2015. In 2016 he opened Blunt Barbers in West Footscray.
Ken describes the decor of Blunt Barbers as a reflection of his personality – original, raw, straightforward and artistic. There’s an eclectic, rock ‘n’ roll vibe to the place. When he’s not cutting hair Ken is also a street artist and sometime tattooist – he has tattooed some of his barbershop clients before.
The shop’s set up is definitely conducive to conversation – while customers are waiting for their appointment they can shoot some pool and play on the old school arcade machine.
“Cutting hair is an art form - hair is just another material. Everyone needs a good haircut and that’s why I care about my craft.”
Ken’s customers clearly value his work, as the wait for an appointment can be long and many regulars have over the years become friends with Ken. There’s constant banter and jokes between Ken, the other barbers and their customers and a pervading atmosphere of everyone being part of an inside joke.
“I want Blunt Barbers to be an artistic space for people to feel good,” explains Ken. “Cutting hair is an art form – hair is just another material. Everyone needs a good haircut and that’s why I care about my craft.”