Love and Rock N’ Roll – How Badlambs Became a Cutting Edge Business
Badlambs Barbershop on Glenayr Ave is not just a labour of love but it’s also a tale of high romance for owners Tony Mellis and Yvette Deerness who bonded over his ‘crazy big hair’ when they first met in a trendy late-night bar in London 18 years ago.
“I thought geez that blokes got great hair I bet he’s got an interesting story. He looked like a creature who had escaped the circus. Of course, I couldn’t shake him off and here we are two decades later,” Yvette recalls laughing.
It turned out that Tony gave good hair for a reason. He was a talented hairdresser who dreamt of creating an iconic coffee table book of haircuts in exotic locations while Yvette was a business savvy corporate lawyer.
Instead of publishing a written tome, he took over a shop on Lambs Conduit Street in Bloomsbury, London, in 2005 where author Virginia Wolff used to post her letters and launched a new career as a barber.
“Badlambs is a play on the street name. It also sounded a bit rock n’ roll which suited our beautiful clientele who were a mixture of writers, directors, musicians, artists, gangsters and all sorts,” Yvette says.
It wasn’t just about men’s grooming, the shop become a creative hub where they held art exhibitions, played cool beats and cooked stews in winter.
It’s this strong sense of community that underpins the success of Badlambs and why Bondi Beach became the suburb of choice when they settled on their forever Sydney shopfront five years ago.
The barbershop is a window into Tony and Yvette’s souls with a diverse and colourful collection of antiques, bric-a-brac and artworks.
They celebrated Badlamb’s fifth anniversary on Sunday 4 October in their typical hipster style with a street party (COVID-safe of course) handing out lamb sliders while local DJs Bambu Hut from Eastside FM spun their decks.
“We felt like it was time to get excited after a really tough year. And this was our way of thanking the Bondi locals who have thrown their support behind local businesses like ours during COVID-19,” Yvette explains.
“It’s one of the main reasons we love living and working here, because there is a really strong sense of community spirit … even more so in a crisis.”
Badlambs is a passionate advocate for live music and emerging artists and pre-COVID held regular jamming sessions and performances to promote local talent.
While those events have been put on-hold for the time-being, the ivory keys of their barbershop piano still get an impromptu tickle whenever a muso drops in for a short, back and sides.
Badlambs has also continued to provide its quality services for men, women and children throughout the pandemic introducing extra safety measures such as facemasks, hand sanitiser, temperature checks, extra cleaning and reducing the number of clients allowed in-store.
“Our customers have been fantastic. Our priority will always be making sure they feel safe when they’re in the barber’s chair,” Yvette says.
With COVID-19 cases at an all-time low in NSW, Yvette says she is quietly confident business will begin to return to something closer to normal over summer.
“I think every small business is feeling cautious about the future, so we’re just taking it one day at a time, but there’s definitely a quiet optimism on the streets of Bondi,” she reflects.