By Roz Macaskill
Some things are just meant to be. The story of how barber, Rich Drew, found a business base at Jans in Portree is proof of that.
"It's like a whole lot of individual jigsaw pieces just fitted together perfectly," Richard enthuses.
The story begins with Rich's decision to move to Skye and his search for a house. "My partner and I saw everything, from plots to run-down houses," says Rich. "Nothing ticked all the boxes until we got to the last property. We drove down a long, bumpy road and suddenly this little house appeared. We had a good look round and it just felt right - like this could be our home."
After meeting with the house sellers, it transpired that one worked at Jans hardware store. "They mentioned that Jans had been thinking of starting barber services, but that it didn't happen," Rich reveals. "I didn't think any more about it."
One day, after having a coffee at Jans, Rich was so impressed with the atmosphere of the Red Brick Cafe that he decided to leave a comment on Facebook to that effect. "I said what a nice, unassuming cafe it was - good coffee and a nice vibe - and then I left the building. As I was outside, Donnie Nicolson - a director at Jans - approached me and thanked me for the comment."
The initial meeting led to a conversation, during which Richard told Donnie about his new house.
Excitedly, Donnie cried: "Oh, so you're the barber!"
"Taken aback, I said 'Pardon?'" laughs Rich. "Donnie explained the previous owners had told him about me - and everything developed from there. It's a meant-to-be thing as it all came about by itself!"
Work soon began to create a space in Jans for Rich to work. "I want to bring the outside inside," Rich said. "It will be called the Red Rock Barbers, like the red of the Cuillins. I want the shop to have an outdoor feel to it, so we will be using old timber and rusty corrugate to give it the feel of being left to the elements and weathered. I want people to sit in the chair, have their hair cut and sense the outdoor feel."
Rich is keen to make his clients feel relaxed and comfortable as they enjoy their experience. "I'm a trained barber and specialise in traditional male grooming, but you're only ever as good as your last hair cut," he says. "Every client is different. I want to talk to them, learn their needs and desires and then deliver it."
Rich's services mean there is yet another reason to visit Jans. He says: "There's already a lot going on in Jans. I'm excited to be part of it all! I want my shop to be the kind of place people can chill in - or go for coffee and a light bite while they wait to get their hair cut."