Whanganui barber Matt Gilmore's most loyal client is Tom Potaka-Osborne, who was on the receiving end of Gilmore's first-ever haircut.
Gilmore, who was born and raised in Whanganui, trained as a barber when he left school and opened Barber Town in Victoria Ave when he was 19. On July 28, Gilmore and his wife Vicky celebrated 16 years of operation of Barber Town which now employs five staff and usually has a waiting room full of clients.
"We've got a loyal clientele - some who were here on day one are still coming to us," Gilmore said.
Vicky says the first haircut Matt ever did was for Potaka-Osborne and he is still a client.
Gilmore has trained 10 apprentices during his years in business, has done work for UCOL and has been a judge in barbering competitions in Palmerston North.
"An apprenticeship takes two to three years and I've taught all the staff here," Gilmore said.
"It's nice to give back. If someone didn't give me a go as a young person, I wouldn't be where I am. I try to do that with the people I take on. I've had people coming from out of town for training in the past."
Barbering has undergone a revival in recent years.
"The year I qualified there were five barbers and more than 200 hairdressers," Gilmore said.
"The number of barbers has certainly increased and turned around now. We cut men's hair and the techniques we use are completely different [from hairdressing]. We do get some ladies who come in and want really short hairstyles.
"We also do beards and shaving. We do a lot of beards now as they are back in fashion.
"We operate as a traditional barber shop. People just walk in and take a seat. There are no appointments."
Gilmore said he was now the longest-standing business owner in his area of Victoria Ave, with other businesses having changed hands, moved or closed during the 16 years he has been there.