Bringing barbering back: Twin Cities man puts a modern spin on the classic experience

There are certain things you hope for in a barber shop experience.

A hot towel, good conversation and a steady hand.

“The three keys to a great shave are pulling the skin tight, a nice sharp razor and holding the blade at the correct angle," said Josh Kirkpatrick, a barber. "The worst thing you can do is try harder.”

Josh opened his barber shop in Waconia a few months ago. He noticed old school grooming services were making a comeback and saw an opportunity to create the next generation of barber shops.

“The popularity of the straight razor shave has surpassed even my expectations,” he said. 

Josh's shop feels modern and new, but he's no novice. He has spent 16 years building a solid reputation; his clients include local celebrities like Vikings alum Jared Allen and former Twins power hitter, Jim Thome. Josh proudly showed FOX 9 a photo in an old Sports Illustrated magazine.

“I actually cut his hair three days before this home run," he said. "So I like to brag I made it into Sports Illustrated. My haircut did anyway.”

But Josh isn't in this for the bragging rights. He has a passion for barbering. It started when he was just a kid going to work with his dad at his shop, the iconic Capitol Barbers in St. Paul.

“I remember you know meeting a lot of the political figures, of course you know at that stage in life, I didn't know who was who or anything like that,” he said.

His dad, Ken Kirkpatrick, also known by regulars as Ken the Barbarian, has been a staple in St. Paul since the early '70s. His shop, tucked in the basement of the state office building is in the crosshairs of the Capitol grounds.  

"It was an interesting time," said Ken.

Now semi-retired, he splits his time between the barbershop and the beach.

"Like everybody tells me, I failed retirement," he said. 

But Ken succeeded at building an impressive reputation of his own. His clients include all of the Capitol's heaviest hitters: Rudy Perpich, Arne Carlson, Tim Pawlenty, Mark Dayton and the man in the chair when FOX 9 showed up, Skip Humphrey.

“I'll tell you the one place you can find out the real story about what was going on in St. Paul was at the barber shop," said Humphrey.

Former Attorney General Humphrey has been getting the inside scoop and his cuts from Capitol Barbers for nearly 40 years.

“It was kind of neutral ground you know," said Humphrey. "You'd meet your colleagues from the other side and we can all joke a little bit about and talk about sports and other kinds of things.” 

Now, Humphrey comes out to Waconia from time to time, to support the Kirkpatrick family legacy.

"There important things in life, but barber shops are really important," said Humphrey.

Ken says he's proud of his son.  

"I think he’s been at the top of the profession teaching and running the shops and I think Josh will have no problem getting his businesses going," he said.

In fact, he's so confident in Josh, he recently sold him Capitol Barbers.

"I think he likes having me around the Capitol," said Ken. "I don't know - he hasn't fired me yet."

He says he's ready to loosen his grip, knowing he's leaving the next generation of barbering in good hands.