By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – What do Justin Timberlake and a great haircut have in common? A name.
“Man of the Woods” is the fifth studio album by Justin Timberlake, and it is the name of the new Barber Shop that opened Jan. 5 in Big Sky preceded by a ribbon cutting, grand opening and cocktail hour at 4 p.m. on Jan. 4. True to its intended ambiance, the shop offered libations and live music by Marcedes Carroll.
Kyle Pemberton is the owner and sole proprietor of Man of the Woods, an idea that has been in the works since 2017 when Pemberton graduated from barber school. He was able to lock down the location for the shop in September of 2020 and celebrated the longtime dream at his grand opening this week.
The newest barbershop in Big Sky is a traditional style shop that offers services specifically tailored to each individual. Man of the Woods specializes in short to medium length cuts, straight razor shaves, facial hair care and grooming products.
Pemberton has lived in Bozeman for six years now and has cut hair there for the entirety of his barbering career. Before Bozeman, Pemberton lived in Harbor Springs, Michigan and worked as a lead line cook and a sous chef for Boyne Resorts. His love of people and stories led him west to a career in hair cutting.
“I really love people and I love storytelling and the art of capturing stories,” Pemberton said. “As a chef, you know, you get to tell stories through food, and that’s really cool, but I’m a people person, I like to talk too much, and I would always get in trouble for gabbin’ on the line. I found an outlet for me to be able to be artistically creative, but also to be able to connect with people and share my stories and to capture their stories.”
So, he headed to Boise, Idaho for Barber School and gained experience in a larger city cutting a wide variety of hair. However, Pemberton and his wife missed Montana, so they came back to Bozeman to raise their now three-year-old son.
Pemberton got his first taste of opening a barber shop when he helped a good friend and mentor open Sellsword Barber Co. in 2018. He explained that he, “had intentions of opening my own barber shop in the future, I just wasn’t sure when.”
Before Pemberton turned his talents to opening his own shop, he and his wife decided to start a traveling nonprofit called the Art of Now.
In late 2019, they converted an old school bus into a living space and hit the road with their son to travel the U.S. and give free haircuts to the homeless and veterans—really anyone in need. They made it to 23 different states and gave about 300 free haircuts along the way and handed out hygiene supplies and necessities to the homeless as part of their hygiene bag program.
“It created a way to give back but also a way for me as an artist to be able to still go out and do what I love to do, but without any expectations,” Pemberton said. “People don’t feel like they have to give me anything in return for a haircut whenever we’re on the road traveling and doing it, because it’s just something that we do. It’s who we are.”
And then came the coronavirus pandemic which necessitated a change of plans.
Pemberton and his family cut their travels short, returned to Bozeman, sold their bus and bought an apartment. And now, Pemberton’s dream of opening his own barbershop has come to fruition.
The name of the shop, Man of the Woods, was the result of a casual brainstorming session with friends. Pemberton explained that they were spit balling, trying to think of something that fit in with the Big Sky community, and that phrase was offered. After some research and a meeting with his attorney, Pemberton confirmed that he was able to use the name for his store.
“I think Justin hit the nail on the head with the name of his album to wrap Big Sky into one because I know that’s what he wrote the album about, was his experiences in Big Sky,” he said. “I went for it. It’s a great name, and it’s not an all-original name, even though we kind of originally came up with it.”
The name is meant to reflect the Big Sky community as well as the potential clientele. Although, don’t let the designation of barbershop scare you, Pemberton said they will also cut women’s hair as long as it is shoulder length or shorter—due to the way scheduling at the shop is run, quicker turnarounds are required, and longer hair simply takes too long to cut.
Currently, Pemberton is the only barber working in the shop but he does have a barber in school in Boise who will join the team after graduating this coming summer. He also said that he will have a full-time shoe shiner join the team this summer.
For a 30-minute cut, the price point at Man of the Woods is $45, which Pemberton said is equivalent to what is charged in Bozeman. He explained that they wanted to offer a fair price point for the convenience of having a barber in Big Sky.
EBS updated this story to clarify that Man of the Woods is the newest barbershop in town.