Thomas Kearney belongs to an elite club of Seattle stylists who trained here in the ’80s and are still in town to tell the tale. “At the time I was living with this girl who was a hairdresser,” he says. “She thought I’d be good at it too, so one day I took her advice and went to Greenwood Beauty College.” That suggestion turned into a passion, leading Kearney to a nearly five-year stint at the now-closed Stewart Salon on Queen Anne. He followed that with a barbering apprenticeship in the UK and nine years as the owner of a barbershop in Whitefish, Montana, before returning to Seattle to salon hop and manage a spa chain.
He may have made his biggest move last year by answering a Craigslist ad for a job with Finland’s M Room—but he won’t even have to leave the city. The company was looking for local talent to open its first American outpost in Seattle, which M Room was eyeing for its progressive aesthetic. Thanks to his years of experience and management prowess, he landed the position as not only the general manager of the Seattle location—which opened last March on Spring Street—but also as the “country coach” in charge of launching any future M Room in the Western Hemisphere.
Kearney’s learning how to bridge that global gap between the classic cuts most requested in our corner of the continent and the modern styles coming out of Europe. “At our shop we like to think we aren’t slaves to the fashion of the week,” he says, “but we’re always communicating with Europe on trends, as they tend to hit there first. So if a customer does want the style of the moment, we know how to make it happen.”
Looking forward, Kearney and his partner hope to open enough local M Rooms that there’s always one within walking distance around the city’s core. In other future news: The industry vet predicts the disappearance of the burly beard trend and an upswing in the ’80s styles he cut early in his career. Grab your straight razor and hair gel, gents.