By Julie Meyer Taylor

While some people visit their hairdresser and share the latest news from their life, my husband visits his barber and tests out his Russian language skills. “I’m off to see Ilya! I wonder if he’ll notice I haven’t practiced lately,” he says, as he heads out the door.

My husband, John, studied Russian in college, and enjoyed it, but other than occasionally practicing with an audio language program, he does not have much opportunity to speak it. However, a few years ago he discovered Ilya’s Barber Shop. About once a month, when his hair needs a trim, he visits Ilya, Riva, and Masha, and takes a seat in one of their barber chairs. While the razor is humming, John speaks to them in Russian, and they critique, coach, and compliment him as they deem appropriate.

The owner, Ilya Mirzakandov, grew up in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and moved to the United States 25 years ago. Twenty years ago he moved to Phoenix and opened his barbershop on 19th Avenue and Northern. He has been serving Phoenix clients ever since. Ilya says he misses the open air markets and the beautiful landscapes of Tashkent, but enjoys living and working in Arizona. Riva, also from Tashkent, is another barber in the shop, and has been working with Ilya for 18 years. Masha is from Moscow and has many years of experience styling hair. Other hairdressers also work with them in the shop.

If you are looking for a new barber, or want to learn a few words of Russian while you get a trim, make an appointment, or just drop in.

Ilya’s Barber Shop

8012 N. 19th Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85021

(602) 864-5074    

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