In Conversation with Lady Boss Aida Hashim of The Gentlemen's Society
One of Bussorah Street’s best-kept secrets, The Gentlemen’s Society is a men’s grooming paradise nestled amongst the heritage street’s bevvy of Middle-Eastern restaurants and fashion boutiques. Running the show is Aidanorwani Hashim (affectionately known as Aida), part of a husband-and-wife duo who has run the establishment since 2018. Since her takeover, The Gentlemen’s Society has grown from strength to strength. The barbershop counts celebrities, professional athletes and even Arab royalty amongst its patrons; a testament to service heads and shoulders above the rest. Meet Aida, the woman behind this men-only salon.
Open its doors and be greeted with a cosy but incredibly stylish lounge area decked in sophisticated shades of emerald green and gold – mirroring the classic but classy experience to come. Here, the barbershop takes the usual trimmings to the next level, emphasising relaxation in total privacy.
“I redesigned the entire shop,” Aida shares proudly. To create a more exclusive feel, the former art student did away with the salon’s open-concept layout. “My vision for The Gentlemen’s Society was for it to be like a retreat for men, where clients can rest and unwind while being pampered.” Customers enjoy free-flowing drinks and top banter before being ushered to a private chair where tresses get chopped, clippered and combed to perfection. Their facial grooming and massage services are also popular choices – but the real beauty of the barbershop is that it’s where people can let their hair down.
It’s not unusual to see regulars often nip in for a quick lunchtime cut but spare a bit more time for a world of indulgence. “We’ve built a community; a comfortable space where clients share their stories freely and build friendships. Some of them come in, not for a haircut, but to drink coffee,” she laughs.
Barbershops receive all sorts of exciting characters from all walks of life, and The Gentlemen’s Society is no different. “Mark Kassab, an Australian boxer, popped by the shop for a shave and our barbers were so excited to grab a photo with him,” Aida shared. “We’ve also served Arab royalty – a group of them pulled up in private vehicles one after another. After that, we learned of their relation to an Arab princess. We’ve had a lot more Arab customers since their visit.” But Aida’s most interesting encounter was one that occurred over the phone. “A lady once called to enquire about The Gentlemen’s Society. She saw our number saved on her husband’s phone and was worried about the nature of our business,” Aida laughingly recounted. “I directed her to check us out online, and she never called us again.”
Keeping Up with the Kampong Spirit
For Aida, The Gentlemen’s Society is more than a workplace – it is a nurturing community that connects beyond the barber’s chair. “My favourite thing about our location in Kampong Gelam is the kampong spirit,” she shares. “We are very close to our neighbours, to the point where they’re like family. We support each other’s businesses.” Before the pandemic hit, Aida loved organising gatherings, bringing the Kampong Gelam residents together over food. “These days, I enjoy walking around the district, seeing old pals and finding out new places to visit, eat, shop and support.” And she has a growing list of recommendations.
“If I were to bring friends around Kampong Gelam, I’d get them to check out the murals and art installations in the area, as well as the heritage plaques,” Aida shared. “Foodwise, I like Lepak at Rayz and Nasrin. Broti’s iced milk teas are delicious, as are the desserts and pastries from Julie Bakes, Lickety and Konditori Artisan Bakes.” For modest fashionwear, Aida recommends visiting Kashka and Silq Studio, and Prop-Up Store by Fatimah Mosin for furniture and homeware products. “Enjoy your time in Kampong Gelam. Don’t rush through your visit because there’s always something to be discovered around the corner!”