Bellevue’s Cutting Edge – Advice from a Master in Men’s Aesthetics
Author: Lauren Hunsberger | Photography: Yasmeen Nayfeh | Posted In: Live | May 2023
Member Noor Kiswani is a Bellevue-born barber who started cutting hair at 15 years old under the tutelage of his dad. Since then, he’s manicured men’s looks around the world, from Australia to the Middle East to Switzerland and beyond. He estimates he’s done over a million cuts in that time span and brought all his expertise and experience to Uppercuts Barbershop, the shop he opened in heart of the COVID pandemic. Here’s his story.
Reflections magazine: Where did the name Uppercuts come from?
Noor Kiswani: When you uppercut something it’s all about strength; it’s the finest part of boxing. I was boxing a lot when I came up with the concept, and I wanted to be the uppercut of all barbershops in Bellevue.
RM: When did you learn to cut hair?
NK: My parents are from Jerusalem and moved to Bellevue, and my dad was a barber. They wanted us to get an education but also wanted us to have a skill in life that we could fall back on. I started cutting hair at 15. This proved great advice during COVID.
RM: What sets you apart as a barber?
NK: The difference is a lot of people don’t know how to mix scissors and the machines together. I have a different style and use the best tools.
RM: What does the future of Uppercuts look like?
NK: The main goal is to keep up the quality at this shop, and possibly expand with more chairs. But I found a technique to teach people how to cut hair—fades, taper fades and skin fades. One day, I hope to open a school to train people on the proper way to cut hair.
RM: How did you get to cut hair all over the world?
NK: I went to Bellevue High, and after, my parents sent me to the Middle East to learn Arabic. Then I got a scholarship to study international relations in France, and I went to Australia to get my master’s in communications management. Because I had the [haircutting] skill, I could work wherever I went and learned all different kinds of ways.
RM: How did you decide to open a shop during COVID?
NK: It was a tough period, and I really wanted to do something to support our family and Bellevue. I wanted to put my skills back into the community. The first three to six months were difficult, but I started doing videos on Instagram and people started seeing the work, seeing what we are capable of.
TOP THREE MEN’S HAIR TRENDS – What Noor recommends
1. “I’m really loving the new extreme curly hair on top with a nice low taper and scissor work for texture. I like to implement the fade on the sides; it’s important to have both, to mix two different styles into one.”
2. “The beard game is still huge. We specialize in fades and a straight razor on beards. We can make anything happen with any type of beard, as long as there is a little bit of hair.”
3. “A natural approach to hair loss, which is one of our biggest requests. I try to avoid chemicals because they can be really bad for you. Oftentimes, the minute you stop it all falls out. We want to make sure our customers aren’t taking something that affects them in a negative way, and there are many natural things you can do.”
MEN’S HAIR MISTAKES TO AVOID – What Noor hopes will disappear
1. “The biggest mistake I see is when men buzz their hair all the way to refresh. I always recommend buzzing the sides, but just taking down the top. If you buzz the whole thing, the front line will never grow out the same.
2. “I think the mohawk is dying, which I’m happy about. Honestly, it’s not a great-looking haircut for anyone. It’s just trendy.
3. “Not investing in your appearance. Self-care is so important. I learned from my dad that there are two things you shouldn’t be cheap about: your food and your image.”
Make an appointment with Noor at Uppercuts Barbershop in Bellevue. For more information, visit uppercutsbellevue.com.