Specialty of the Haus

December 2022 View more

Elevating the male haircut and grooming experience

Barber Haus, 232 S. Washington St., Naperville
Barber Haus, 232 S. Washington St., Naperville

A trip to the barbershop. Once a cherished male social ritual that represented time well spent, it has for many men devolved into just another routine errand on the dreaded to-do list—something to be endured and checked off before trudging to the grocery store or the yardwork.

Eric Sowa had watched this phenomenon play out over the past decade and a half, contrasting it with the markedly different sense of excitement and relaxation he saw in the women coming in for styling appointments at the salon where he was working. So when it came time to open his own shop, he knew exactly the prospective customers he wanted to target—and exactly how he wanted to serve them.

Outside Barber Haus, 232 S. Washington St., Naperville

“We’re trying to merge the salon and the barbershop cultures,” says Sowa, who debuted Barber Haus in downtown Naperville in September after having run an upscale barbershop within his former salon for the past four years. “Back in the day, the relationship a man had with his barber and everyone in the shop formed a kind of community. We’ve lost that a little bit today, and I wanted to bring it back.”

To that end, Sowa encourages men to spend some time in Barber Haus—whether they’re in for a trim or a shave—rather than just seeing it as a quick chore on the way to something else. In a nod to the salon half of the equation, the four-chair shop takes clients by appointment only, giving men time to relax amid the vibe of masculine elegance heightened by the shop’s dark wood and upholstery.

Eric Sowa

“We’re not trying to crank people out on an assembly line—we want to take our time with each customer and try to really get to know them,” he explains. The shop’s services include the Signature haircut with a shampoo (from $40), a beard detail (from $35), and a relaxing 40-minute straight-razor shave (from $45). All three choices boast hot-towel facials (plus an ice-cold towel after the shave to close those pores).

“It’s amazing to see how excited guys are to come in and relax and experience what we’re offering here,” Sowa says. “They see that it’s OK to take care of themselves and treat themselves to this.”

Based on the positive feedback Sowa has received thus far, he believes Barber Haus is well on its way to reviving the barbershop tradition. “I think guys come in, and they just feel like ‘This is my space now—this is my shop,’ and it never gets old hearing comments like that,” he says. “I set out to open a shop that I would want to go to and a shop where I would want to work, and I feel like that’s exactly what we’ve done.”


Photos courtesy of Jessica Wight