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Meet Nikki Hilton-Engstrom of John’s Tapo Street Barber Shop in Simi Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Hilton-Engstrom.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nikki. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up, my dad has always been John the barber. He learned from his uncle when he was a young guy with very little direction in his life. He’s always said being a barber has given him freedom and he never felt like he went “to work” every day. He has always said it was like going to hang out with friends all day. He opened a shop in the early 90’s here in Simi Valley. We couldn’t go anywhere without someone stopping us to say “hey John, how’s it going?” Then in early 2000’s he came across this shop and this is where we are today. When I finished cosmetology school about 5 years ago, I was working for a friend at a salon in Newbury park. My dad asked me to work at the barber shop a day or two a week. I thought it would be fun since you don’t learn much about men’s hair in school. At the time, we had some serious old school barbers that had been cutting hair for 50+ years and watching them work was so fascinating to me. The way they made things look so easy while cutting hair, listening to their stories and seeing the relationships they had built over the years. I wouldn’t say I fell in love with it right away. But about 2 years in, my dad had an accident and he wasn’t able to come back to work. So here I am. I’ve been running the shop ever since, and I work here 4 out of 5 days of week. And I still do some women’s hair on the side. But this has become more of who I am. And I’ve grown to love it here. I love the atmosphere in a barber shop. I love the bad jokes. I love the sound of classic rock and clippers buzzing in the background. I love that when I come to work, I don’t feel like I am at work and that my customers and my fellow barbers have become important staples in my life. I miss them when I’m away from the shop.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m a woman in a male dominated place. I had to learn pretty early on to get a tougher skin and not take people and myself so seriously. A lot of times I’ve heard a woman can’t really cut men’s hair or at least not well. So I took that as a challenge. I use it as a motivator to just do things better and better each day. When I was left in charge it took me a minute to realize that I had to call the shots and make decisions to better our business and help it grow. Now I feel comfortable in that place.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with John’s Tapo Street Barber Shop – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our barber shop has been a barber shop in Simi Valley since the early 60’s. It’s old school. We don’t have a fancy shop or a place that does a lot of different things. We cut hair, mostly men’s hair (but we’ll take women too, we don’t discriminate) And we pride ourselves in doing the best haircut we can for our customers. Each customer, each time. We are a family place. We have customers that have been coming here since the 60’s, we have some of their kids, some of their grand-kids. And some new people who walked in our door and keep coming back. And we know them, and we treat them as if they belong to us. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. We don’t lose sight of that. What is so great in our business is while we all cut hair, we all have a unique style, and different ways of doing things.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Maybe I’ll change the name someday… but for now, to honor the man that started this we’ll keep it as John’s. I’d like to clean up the shop a bit more and update it a little, while still keeping the vintage vibe, and hopefully adding a few more key players to our team. But other than that, we’re happy the way we are, so we’ll stay this way.


  • All haircuts are $20 or less.

Contact Info:

  • Address: John’s Tapo Barber Shop
    2100 Tapo Street
    Simi Valley, CA 93063
  • Phone: 805-526-8679
  • Email:
  • Facebook: @johnstapobarbershop

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