Walter Bishop-Jones, who along with wife Kat just opened the Barber Walter’s barbershop and apothecary at Wellesley’s Belclare complex on Washington Street, has come a long way as a barber in more ways than one.
Jones got his license in 2001, but says he started cutting hair long before that. He got his first pair of clippers at age 11 after saving up money from getting good grades, then proceeded to cut everyone’s hair in his Sacramento, Calif., neighborhood “much to the chagrin of my and everyone’s parents.” Getting into the haircut game also spared young Walter from having his parents cut his hair (“there’s nothing worse than that, at least from the mindset of a preteen.”)
Fast forward to this year, when Walter sold off his share of his San Francisco shop, moved to Wellesley (Kat’s a Massachusetts native), got married on St. Patrick’s Day and signed a lease for a new shop at the Belclare, which is suddenly a bustling retail row. The couple has transformed that space in a matter of months from bare walls and pipes (we had a sneak peek over the summer) to a stylish lounge complete with classic barber chairs imported from New York, lots of wood and cubbyholes, a library and a not-so-secret door in the back wall. “Wood, leather, steel and spirit… we definitely went all out, as we plan to be here for generations,” says Jones, who considers his mind and hands his key barbering tools.
The shop’s services range in price from a $30 buzz cut (30 minutes) all the way up to “a relaxing and invigorating” deluxe haircut and hot towel shave (90 minutes) for $90. The barbershop will also come to you, such as for bachelor’s parties. The business also plans to offer custom services for patrons with special needs and to train staff to accommodate these customers.
Jones says what he likes best about his gig is “the camaraderie and having the privilege being the one guy in the neighborhood that, through networking and due diligence, knows who does what and who needs that.” Barber Walter’s emphasizes on its website its intention to be very community oriented.
But does Wellesley, which already has a slew of barbershops and salons, really need another?
“If you look at the population of Wellesley, Weston, Dover, etc., there is definitely a need!” Jones says. “Now, as far as salons go, first and foremost, I wouldn’t dare compare myself to a salon, as I have just as much respect for cosmetology as I do my own craft. The difference between a Cosmetologist and a Barber is like the difference between having your picture drawn or painted. Cosmetologists, through skill and knowledge, work to create a tapestry of beauty among women and long-haired men. They are definitely masters of their craft…and I respect them as such. Barbers tend to be more detailed oriented, as the margin for error is much smaller.”
I did ask Jones the question that had to be asked, too, regarding his namesake, news legend Barbara Walters. Is he a big fan?
“I’m a huge fan…her interview of Fidel Castro (among others) worked to shape modern American foreign policy. She resides in the hearts and minds of the American populace.”
And in the spirit of Barbara Walters, I asked Jones the really tough question. Who cuts your hair?
“My BEAUTIFUL wife, Kat Jones!”