303 First St.
302 First St.
Photos by Alyssa Bredin Quiros
Dairen Coto is a self-taught renaissance man, who seems to be able to teach himself just about anything. He and his brother Leo have owned and operated a barbershop, Trim Hoboken, for seven years.
Recently, he says, “We got an opportunity to move to a bigger location across the street and open Trim Salon in the old space.”
The full-service salon, at 303 First, has three stylists who serve men and women for both cuts and color. The original name of the salon was Blow Outs by Trim, but Dairen didn’t want potential customers to think that the salon offered only blow-outs.
I stopped in on a warm, sunny Saturday morning in June. It’s a really lively street, with lots of sidewalk traffic.
The space is bright and welcoming, with brick walls and lots of white. The two shops have a nice, contemporary, young Hoboken feel.
With guys getting their beards trimmed on one side of the street and women getting their cuts and partials on the other, the Cotos have carved out—or maybe I should say scissored out—a real grooming niche on the west side.
Since these are brother-run businesses, I wonder if the art of barbering was handed down from a family member. “No,” Dairen says, “When I was at Hoboken High School, I started giving my friends haircuts.”
The barbershop boasts 11 barber chairs. “Why did I want to become a barber? Money makes you want to be a barber,” he says.
The shop offers facials, shaves, color, and what’s known as beard enhancements, which add color to make it fuller. “People have big beards now, and there’s more color, more style,” he says, “not just a cut and get out.”
Dairen, who was born and raised in Hoboken, is happy to see all the new buildings going up and the high-rise condos along the waterfront. “I love it,” he says. “It’s good for business. That’s why I love it.”
After graduating from Hoboken High, Dairen worked as a cook for Maxwell’s.
Cooking school, anyone? Nope. “I moved up from dishwasher,” he says, “and learned to cook by watching the chef.”
Dairen has eyes to open a barber school, but he’s not sure where. “I need a bigger space, and Hoboken’s too expensive,” he says.
But as far as his home base? He has no plans to leave Hoboken.
Across the street at Trim Salon, Matthew, a hair stylist, welcomes me and shows me around. He says the stylists bring their own clients, there are lots of walk-ins, and many locals are becoming regulars.
“It’s going to get better,” Dairen says. “We’re catering to young women. Good people are coming in. Basically we’re Trim Hoboken on the woman’s side.”