After many years in London, Jeremy’s work took him to LA and they moved across the pond. When Astri got pregnant, the time was right to settle down in a less hectic place. After four and a half years, they swapped the city of angels for a more down-to-earth lifestyle in Trondheim. If they are missing big city life, they are not showing it. They love how Trondheim is “a city that knows its own identity,” and are finding the lack of arrogance and ego refreshing. Æ for individuality The location will be a big part of the salon’s identity. The name Æ, the pronoun for ‘I’ in the local dialect, was chosen partly to embrace the identity of being a Trønder. Minimalistic Scandinavian design has influenced the salon’s look and the photographer they are working with is local. Æ’s brand shoot features “real people” rather than models, ranging from an NTNU student to a local chef. “The idea is to utilise our experience from the places we have lived and combine this with local influences and talent,” explains Jeremy.
Lights, hair, action! Words: Karin Modin Photo: Nikol Herac
This Trondheim power couple knows how to style some serious locks, and are here to give Trondheim some LA style and London flare.
Jeremy Davies-Barbala has created looks for fashion designers and Hollywood actresses; and his wife Astri Barbala has modelled for fashion houses such as Jean Paul Gaultier. Having spent the last decade in London and LA, this stylish husband and wife team have put their roots down in Trondheim, and have opened their hair salon and academy hybrid ‘Æ’. Their salon is based around the core values of suitability, obtainability and sustainability. That, and Jeremy’s extensive experience. During his 20-year career, he has been the Senior Creative Director for Vidal Sassoon for several years, heading up both the flagship stores in London and Beverly Hills. Jeremy credits his wife with making his work better by adding a less technical perspective. As well as modelling, Astri has worked within journalism and media, and is currently doing an MA in visual culture. Her perspective on hair is largely a cultural one. “I love how hair is so attached to culture, history and politics,” she says. “Hair can be such a powerful statement.”
Æ is also about individuality, about getting to know each client and creating the right look for that person. “We want every client that comes in here, to have a great experience,” says Astri. “It is about how can we tailor our look for each individual person.” Training academy and creative space In addition to being a salon, Æ is also a hair education centre. Jeremy has spent a large part of his career being an educator and now he wants to offer training to Scandinavian hairdressers. They are also hoping to hold events here and allow people to exhibit their work on the walls. “We want to create a creative space,” says Jeremy. “It is important for us to be part of the community, both the creative and the small business communities.” There is no shortage of hairdressers in Trondheim, but they are not worried about the competition. “I feel our approach is different, we do not see it purely a business to make the up the numbers,” says Astri. “It is a family business, it is going to be fun.” Up until now they have done pretty much everything themselves. They have barely seen each other for two months as Jeremy has all but turned carpenter. He has been grafting, building a reception desk, painting and generally fixing up the space. Astri has also put her skills to good use, putting their philosophy into words and designing their website. All about balance With daughter Eira now one, the time was right for a new venture. “It is something we have always talked about, how can we marry our interests for hair in a way were we can work together,” says Astri.
From big city lights to Northern Lights
“Making our hobby our life’s work, that is really what we are trying to do here. Making sure our life has balance and making it fit around the most important person in our relationship, which is our daughter,” says Jeremy.
Londoner Jeremy and Stjørdal-born Astri have been a couple for ten years. They first met when he was working as a creative director and she was a hair model. They saw each other several times at various fashion shows across the world, until one late night they bonded over a bottle of whisky. The rest, as they say, is history.
With Jeremy admitting to still having clients in LA that will insist on him flying over to do their hair, we have to ask; is a Jeremy haircut something normal people can afford? “Our prices will be competitive,” he promises. “What I do not what to do, is to extort people. Being obtainable is really important to me.”
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