Columbus Clippers: Jake Bame of The Noble Baron
Noble Baron owner Jake Bame's infatuation with barbershop culture began from a young age.
He remembers going into a local barbershop at age 12 or 13, and entering an environment that heightened his senses: the scents of the products, the grownup conversations.
It was the place you went, he said, "the first time your dad made you feel like one of the guys."
At 43, the New Albany resident has been licensed as a barber since 1999. He owned a barbershop near the Ohio State University campus for about seven years before embarking on a 15-year career as a club operator.
It was family that made him return to the industry he started in. After learning he was going to have a child, Bame realized he wanted a career that would allow him to be more present with his family.
He opened the New Albany-based Noble Baron in 2011, choosing a name that purposefully wasn't his own.
"I didn't want it to be about me," Bame said. "I wanted it to be about the shop, the brand [and] the people that work for it."
Instead, the name is a play on history particular to barber college - the beard, or baron tax, that was paid by men who dared grow a beard. In addition to being a nuisance of a tax, the fee also was another way to separate the wealthy from the poor, Bame said.
With a bow tie and a gold straight-razor pin, Bame pays homage to vintage style, and his shop does the same. On a recent visit, a black-and-white film played on a TV in the waiting room. Dark leather armchairs rested on a dark wood floor. A Stetson poster depicted a clean-shaven gentleman in a hat. Quiet jazz played over a speaker.
"Everything in here has a story is what we say," Bame said.
Much of the shop's throwback style was inspired by the building itself. Built in 1946, it originally served as the pilots' barracks at the 94th Aero Squadron, now Port Columbus Airport. In 1968, a man bought two of the barracks, moving them to New Albany. This particular building served as a private residence for twentysome years, and then a dentist's office for another 15.
When Bame moved his shop into the place, it made sense to him to capitalize on the history and character present. This appreciation for the past extends to a number of the products Bame utilizes.
"I think that your foundation is always going to be the old classics," Bame said.
Some of his industry's products have been around since his grandfather was a small child, Bame said. Still, he said, Noble Baron is always looking for new products, especially more natural and organic ones. They are presently working with developers for their own natural and organic product lines.
Bame views his craft as an art.
"It doesn't matter whether it's a businessman with a taper, or a young kid getting a design [on the side of] his head," he said. "Whoever walks in that door always looks and feels different when they walk out."
The Noble Baron
21 N. High St.