Tame the Mane: The Barbershop as it Should Be
The chair sounds out a low level thunk and for a moment I am suspended in space.
“You don’t have any more questions before we get started, do you?” Nathan Patel asks me as he lowers me in the old fashioned barber’s chair, “It might be hard to talk once I start.”
I imagine that he’s sharpening his straight razor on old leather straps as he’s saying this, smiling menacingly. Of course, he’s just getting the pre-shave oils, clippers, and shaving cream ready. He doesn’t even use those ominous leather straps as disposables are cleaner, sharper, and safer. Even though Nathan, an affable and easy-going guy, is the furthest thing from a Sweeny Todd type, it’s still nerve-racking your first time getting a shave from someone else.
Soon, however, between the quiet sounds of indie music playing, the soothing oils and warm towels on the face, and the light and easy conversation, relaxation settles upon me, and I understand why getting a shave from your barber used to be such a popular pastime.
In fact, after years of either shaving my own head or popping into a quick chain salon for my bi-monthly ear lowering, Tame the Mane has changed the way that I look at the hair-cut experience. And I’m not alone. The popularity of this little barbershop in Ogden has exploded, as more and more guys realize they want a little extra out of their barbering experience.
Decorated to feel more lived-in and less uniform than most hair-cut dives, the large flat-screen TV (often playing surfing videos, Animal Planet, or a kid’s movie), the aging Persian rug, and big brown worn-leather sofa creates a blended aura of bachelor pad and family living room. There’s complimentary coffee and water, a Netflix account for the TV, and, the best part, easy access to cold beer. Tame the Mane shares a parking lot with Fermental, a local favorite of North Wilmingtonians. You can actually purchase a beer at Fermental and bring it into Tame the Mane while you wait for your turn to get a trim.
And it is always a pleasant wait. With such a comfortable environment, conversation comes easy. Lively chats are always on-going with all sorts of people: UNCW and CFCC students, hipsters, regular joes, blue and white collars, local business owners, retirees, moms who bring their boys in for a hair-cut. Plus, Nathan and his ever-growing team are all as delightful to talk to as they are talented stylists. The shop has become so popular that since Nathan started Tame the Mane in September of 2015 as a one-man clipper/scissor act, he has brought on four additional stylists to take on the increasing volume of walk-ins.
It’s no wonder Tame the Mane has become such a staple of the Ogden/Porter’s Neck community so quickly. Nathan and his staff are committed to giving back in any way that they can. From providing an old timey firetruck for the Junior League’s Touch a Truck, to providing free haircuts for the homeless in partnership with Vigilant Hope, Half-United, and other organizations, Tame the Mane keeps its calendar full of charitable events and community enrichment. Nathan, who has always been passionate about giving back, is ramping up a non-profit organization with his brother in early 2017 called “No Need.” Their first project: supporting a group that is taking sports equipment and musical instruments to an orphanage in Haiti, sharing his love for making music and giving those children an outlet for their creative young minds.
But beyond the environment of Tame the Mane, the fact that you can drink beer there, or any of their awesome community involvement and charitable outreach, they offer one hell of a stylish service.
Since they do specialize in men and boy’s haircuts, they know exactly how to craft any dude’s do. So, what’s the secret to their success? Well, it’s a combination of hearing what their customer is looking for, and getting a sense of that customer and what they would really enjoy.
“We can tell maybe by what someone’s wearing, how they talk, what kind of hairstyle they actually want, one that they wouldn’t leave this place and put their hat right back on, you know?” Nathan tells me, “That’s what it’s about, man, just watching them, and getting to know them. If someone comes in and wants our recommendation, that’s normally how we feel it out.”
Nathan and his team are more than proficient at delivering haircuts that range from as hip to as traditional as you could want. They also offer beard shaping services.
And then there’s the old-fashioned shave. This service is offered only through appointment, but is well worth it. Relaxing and way easier on the skin than most of your at-home razors, Nathan’s shave is close and nick-free.
Tame the Mane gets to know you and your style, offering more than just a simple haircut or beard trim. It’s a hub: a place to hang out, drink a beer or two, make some new friends. It’s a place that offers its clients a sense of community and excellence of service that is reminiscent of barbershops of times passed.
So, as you will certainly need a fresh cut heading into 2017, pay a visit to Nathan Patel and his team at Tame the Mane. They are open 8AM-7PM, Monday-Friday, and 12PM-7PM Saturday and Sunday. You can check out their website or on their Instagram.
Written by: Luke W. Woodcock