One of my favorite things to do as “the Barberman” is to travel about and learn more about clippers. I took that opportunity to talk to Vick the barber from Timeless Barber shop in Morgan Hill, CA and got insight American hair clippers from an American!
His go to clipper is officially the Wahl Senior. Vick finds it a long-lasting, premium clipper that he has been using for quite some time. The Wahl Senior is his go-to clipper for daily use and has yet to let him down in the several years that he has had it; though, he does advise barbers just getting started out to use the Andis Masters.
For Vick’s go to arsenal, he listed:
1. Oster Model 10
2. Andis Masters with the taper blade
3. Wahl Senior Five Star Edition (favorite of the bunch)
4. Two pairs of Andis T Outliners
5. GTX Blade for the Andis T
Vick stated that he likes to keep it simple when it comes to work: simple equipment, simple color palette to his shop in snazzy black and minimal hassle when it comes to his equipment. For tapers and fades, he referred to the Oster 76s and Andis T outliners, though he also went back and said that his clipper team for tapers and fades were the Andis Masters and the Wahl Senior.
I asked his opinion on fast feeds. With a humble smile, Vick responded that he thinks they give great cuts, were very nice to work with and generally enjoyed working with them – however, Vick revealed that the challenge he puts on his equipment had the fast feeds knocked out within four months of continuous, daily use. He stated that he really likes to get to know each clipper and challenges himself to learn them extensively. Even so, he sticks with what has proven to be reliable and of good quality. “I don’t want to borrow a clipper in the middle of a busy day,” he laughed. No one wants to be left unprepared!
Asked about his perspective on the differences between the Andis Master and the Wahl Senior, his two favorites, Vick shared his insight. The Wahl Senior, for him, offers a faster and more detailed cut than the Andis but the Andis, as stated earlier, is better for a beginner barber and more forgiving without a reduction in quality. He also recommended working with Fast Feeds and then working your way up to the Wahl Senior as you get more comfortable with clippers.
And what about the Oster Model 10 versus the BGR Plus? Vick admitted he only used the BGR once before. According to him, they worked just fine but weren’t for him as he’s not a fan of cordless clippers. As for the Oster Model 10, he feels that those are more preferable to him hands-down, even compared to the Classic 76s. He feels the Model 10 is smaller, more manageable and delivers a stronger performance overall.
Sometimes, keeping things simple is the winning strategy and Vick is certainly evidence of such. The insightful barber has his own Youtube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/user/VICKTHEBARBER , where he hosts tutorials, reviews and plenty of resources for barbers.
Mind you, he isn’t the only one who provides resources and videos for aspiring barbers out there, even when out in sunny California!
For those interested in learning more about American hair clippers, check out my site: larrythebarberman.com and stay tuned for more of my interviews and news!
After my interview with Dave Diggs of Barbers Inc barber shop in San Jose, which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7shZTCJuGxg, I got a sample of some of his wisdom when it comes to clippers.
Dave is not a two clipper sort of man – in fact, he takes a similar approach to my own when it comes to learning clippers, learning them from the inside out. His first tip was to take a look at the kinds of motors that each clipper has: rotary, pivot and magnetic. Though, because he prefers cordless clippers, his advice focused on rotary and magnetic motors.
Rotary motored clippers are very popular in clippers with detachable blades. He recommends it when selecting a cordless clipper but advises that the motor is one that spins more slowly, which makes it perfect for less strain on the clipper. For him, it is the best motor for a clipper to have if you want to get through a larger volume of hair.
Adjustable blade clippers, typically identified by a lever, generally use a magnetic motor. Magnetic motors spin faster than rotary motors, but that makes them inefficient when it comes to cordless clippers. Dave has found that magnetic motors in cordless clippers create a very smooth blend when it comes to fades.
Now, the golden question: what does Dave Diggs think is the best liner? For him, there is no one best liner! In fact, Dave has an entire arsenal when it comes to clippers and liners – ten on hand at the time of the interview!
For bald fades, he prefers the Styleliner M3. A very powerful liner, he feels it provides the closest cut but doesn’t prefer it when it comes to lining up. For lining facial hair or beards, he prefers the Styleliner Pro with the T-Line blade and then cleaning up the neck area with the GTX.
His advice to barbers everywhere is that one or two clippers are not serviceable in the long run if you aim to do 20-30 haircuts a day. With the ten clippers and three liners in his toolbox, he stated that learning the benefits of each can shave as much as six minutes off each haircut which vastly increases output and efficiency. Learn what each tool is and does the best – you’ll get even more out of your equipment than ever!
I sat down with the internationally acclaimed barbering extraordinaire David Digg and talked about beginnings, cuts, the UK, and the future.
David Diggs cuts a suave figure sat comfortably in one of his barber chairs. There’s nothing surprising about his well-cut waistcoat, shirt and tie; all in cool black, but his red trousers hint at the unique style that’s pushed him to the height of his profession.
He’s the author of the must read social media page-turner ‘How to Build Your Business: Social Media Strategies For Barbers And Stylists’ and draws together his fantastic talent, experience in the field, and expertise of well-trained team he has crafted the inspirational video ‘The Barbershop Diaries’. “That was the goal of the barber shop diaries. As barbers we listen to all of our client’s problems and goings on’s and family issues.
“So this gives our barbers a chance to tell the world our story and what we’ve got going on.”
David is no secret to a story and is a rags-to-riches professional who’s climbed to the top himself; he says “I’m smiling a little bit because that’s the first time I’ve heard it described in that way. But my story as a barber is a long, tough one. A lot of people in my area know my story and even people at the places I travel to. But I’ve had to face a lot of life hurdles, like everybody else.
“Through my life hurdles there came a point that’s widely known; I became incarcerated. I was incarcerated in the California State Penitentiary for five years and upon my release…I used barbering to build my life and put my life back together.”
It is a humble start, and to have come such a long way is a testament to the determination of David. “I started with zero, I started with nothing. I’d catch public transportation to San Francisco Barber College” he says, “and I would have my fingers crossed that I would make enough in tips to catch the transportation back home and maybe buy lunch if I was lucky.”
There’s really no arguing with the owner of The Barbers Inc Barbershop when he says “it’s been a lot of hard work”. In less than five years he has established his own brand in the San Francisco Bay Area in a capacity which has seen him rocket to celebrity barber status.
“I’m proof that it’s possible” he tells me, as we sit amongst the thirteen chairs of his family-feeling shop. Now accomplished in his own right, David has turned his attention to the educational side of barbering. It was clear he has achieved a lot and I asked about his motivation for teaching. “I became a barber just to pay my bills” he tells me, “but the more I got involved with the industry, the more opportunity I saw.”
“I’m an ambitious guy” he says, and there’s no doubting that fact as we talk sitting inside his business, “I felt I had a special thing for motivating and inspiring and articulating technique.” Appealing to me directly he asks “that’s what a great teacher is right? You’re a teacher?”
“Motivates and inspires, able to sort of teach you how to do things. So I found a line I was able to make mine” he concludes. In fact, he’s so good at what he does he has only recently returned from a trip to the London School of Barbering where he had a guest spot, as well as a little bit of touring to show off his talents.
Unlike the UK, a further year of studying is needed stateside in order to get a state license to practice the trade. I asked how this might affect or even hinder British barbers in comparison to their American cousins.
“There are things that barbers just need to learn, especially with sanitation and the proper handling of tools, clients, and just being able to identify problems.”
“I think it’s very necessary to have some type of structure… I think it helps and legitimises the business and holds people to a higher standard.” Education is clearly a passion for David and explains so much about his motivation to do what he is doing.
I was fortunate enough to watch one of his instructional videos and was impressed by the clarity and detail of what he was creating. I was interested in whether he intended this to be the case, and to take all of the complexity out of his product. “Stepping into the educational world I am a real rookie”, he tells me, “Being an educator there’s an influx of people who call themselves educators but really don’t know how to educate.”
“I just wanted to learn from the best, and all of the DVDs I bought were excellent. Most all of them started out at an intermediate level; you had to already be good to execute the cuts they were showing,” he adds “so I said, let me back it up and create something for someone in barber school, who might be a new barber or someone who isn’t aware of the new techniques available”.
What sums up the uniquely accomplished nature of his instructional videos? He told himself “let me start at the beginning and fill a gap, fill a hole, that barber videos now have left. Now it’s just a bunch of haircuts.
“Nobody would include a theory section. ‘What clipper is that?’, ‘Is that clipper better or different from that clipper?’ ‘How do you even hold it?’” His success lies in his confidence to go back to the basics; to tell people what tools are available and how to use them.
Social Media and Education
As an ongoing theme, I like to understand how different professionals in the barbering industry feel about a tool that’s being utilised by barbers the world over. “I don’t think the goal of an educator is just to get followers”, he explains “it takes time to become an educator and I think some guys think it’s just a cool title”.
He offers advice to any aspiring teacher saying “before you proclaim you’re an educator, make sure you’ve fine-tuned your craft. There is a craft to education, you don’t want to get up there and just cut hair. You have to be able to talk and articulate every single step.”
There’s no doubting the success of the business he has built working alongside his team to create something special. “Downtown San Jose isn’t the only group of people paying attention to social media,” he explains how that collectively his team hammered social media in a bid to simply increase their own clientele.
“Little did we comprehend that the world was watching. Social media has been the key to my success and it’s put me on the world stage.” David has in fact become a member of the International Education and Style team for Andis Clipper Company.
With this book, he teaches apprising barbers how to literally build their business as the title suggests, and uses his own life experiences to tell that how it can be done. “Social media has definitely changed my life, and I’ve put everything I know about social media in this book.” If that’s not an excuse to order one right away, then I don’t know what is!
His world experience has been brought together in his documentary “The Barbershop Diaries”, and I wanted to know if he intended to inspire other would-be barbers who were down on their luck to get motivated and stay focussed.
“Somebody asked me once ‘aren’t you happy you found your passion?’ and I thought ‘Wow, I’ve found my passion and I didn’t even know what it was’… Is barbering my passion I had to ask myself?
“Barbering is my avenue; my passion is helping people, my passion is improving other people’s lives. So the goal with Barber Shop Diaries is to help people.”
There’s something about David that tells me he’s not finished yet so I asked him what the future holds. “[For] 2015 my goal was all about creating products; creating the instructional DVD series, writing my book, being in a documentary; at the end of the year I’ve got an app in development and I’m probably going to release it in December.”
“It was all about creation of material,” he explains, “2016? I want to spend my focus on getting that material out there and making sure everyone it can help gets it.” It’s clear that he has a real passion for teaching what he knows and genuinely wants to help young barbers get started.
Give us one clue about what the app’s about? He laughs, hesitates, and then says “The app fills in gaps. There are some amazing apps out there… I have had a chance to sit back and work out room for improvement.” He’s playing his cards very close to his chest. Perhaps in this one instance, he’s not read to teach as all just what he can do.
‘How to Build Your Business: Social Media Strategies For Barbers And Stylists’ and ‘#Faded Barbering Instructional Videos’, the inspiring instructional videos helping young barbers everywhere, are available at www.TheBarbersInc.com/store in USA or shop.larrythebarberman.com/education in Europe We’re told to anticipate a further two more videos by the end of the year. Keep an eye out for that App and check out the Barber Shop Diaries (www.TheBarbershopDiaries.com or www.larrybarberber.com/shop. Follow Dave on Instagram @DaveDiggsTheBarber or me @larrythebarberman , on Twitter and Periscope @DiggsTheBarber and check out his YouTube channel YouTube.com/DiggsTheBarber. To book Dave email him at DiggsTheBarber@gmail.com
I talk with Vick the Barber about how his career began and what the future holds for his business, as well as much-anticipated barbering bible.
“I was pretty much at the end of my line as far as knowing what I was going to do with my future,” he tells me, when we sat down to chat about how his barbering passion began. “I knew I wanted to do something” he adds, “everything I teach I’ve learnt for myself.”
Vick Damone is based in San Jose, California and has managed to create an internationally recognised brand as both a professional barber and also seasoned mentor. How did it all start? “I was cutting hair in the backroom of my mother’s laundromat” he explains, “and people would always tell me ‘why don’t you become a barber?’ and I kept putting off, and putting it off because it wasn’t something I thought I was capable of doing.”
“I was fed up of not having anything; of not having any type of direction. I finally made a call to this barber shop.” It’s this drive and determination that has seen Vick feature in a range of roles, from a judge on ‘Making the Cut’ to the launch of his own ‘A Cut Above The Rest’ instructional videos. “I signed up for barbering college that day.”
There’s a definite sense of a journey when I speak to him, he confides in me that “People think you get success overnight. A lot of people don’t realise or see the whole thing leading up to that success”.
Vick is also a keen bodybuilder and credits the skills and techniques he learnt while training as having an impact on his style and approach to barbering. “[it helped me with] focus – laser light focus” he adds “I put those same principles into my barbering career and I knew pretty much from the gate what I wanted to accomplish.”
“Just keep going” he says, “you know even with working out… there are parts where it gets discouraging where you don’t see as many results. It’s the same thing with this. In the beginning even with my YouTube I noticed big time results and then there were times where I felt like I was working even harder as a barber and an entrepreneur and doing different thing, and I wasn’t seeing any results.”
“It made me almost go ‘You know what? Just be a barber, just cut hair, and just be happy you own your own shop. But then a certain part of me is like ‘no, keep going.’”
I wondered what made Vick into the barbering extraordinaire he is today; was it the school of hard knocks that taught him how to make a business out of his passion, or did reading and learning through study help to put him into another league?
“I’d say not a little bit of both, but a lot of both. I’ve been through a lot of stuff” he tell me “I try to read as much [as I can], and lately I put myself back on a strict regimen and try and knock down at least one book every two days.”
He tipped me off that with some books “are the type that you go through, read like a couple of chapters a day”. He suggests that “so long as it averages out”, reading consistently about the craft helps to give you fresh ideas and also refine skills so that you make a good cut 100% of the time.
“If I don’t feel like it’s doing anything for me – then I go on to the next”. Clearly it’s about knowing your own style and how you learn best.
With Vick’s own work, I really respect the way he translates information for the barbering community and relates it personally to his readers; there’s a feeling that he’s trying to show you how it will fit in with your own business and life.
The first volume of his instructional video ‘A Cut Above the Rest’ is informative as well as inspiring. It kicks straight off with a motivational speech about the tools for barbering and make it so simple to understand.
“I’ve actually revised the DVDs about a year ago; I stuck to the same game plan but really all I did was ass more haircuts. The original ones were around 8-9 haircuts.” It’s now been expanded to include 15 with the fantastic content spanning two discs. “When I first made the DVDs my main goal was just to make it as simple as possible.
“A lot of people will try to make haircutting so much harder and add all this fluff and extra nonsense. I think of it like Bruce Lee; when he first came into the game he wasn’t trying to disrespect martial arts” he describes “he just wanted to let people know that you won’t be doing all the fancy stuff you see in a real fight.”
He puts it down to simplicity but quality: “I just think in a real barber shop environment you’re not going to be doing all that extra stuff – you’ll be sticking to the main principle.”
Vick has had experience sharing his knowledge and experience to a wide audience. In 2014 he was selected to be one of the judges on ‘A Cut Above the Rest’, the first reality show of it’s type. “I got a phone call” he tells me “we had a meeting… and we talked about it. I’m all about bringing up young barbers and teaching them what it really means to be a hard-working dedicated barber.”
“It was something I wanted to be a part of.” Motivating other barbers to get started is at the heart of everything Vick does and it’s obvious how much he wants to help people learn.
With other 120,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, Vick the Barber has built a business from his experience with the video-sharing format. “I knew how to get my videos views” he says “I knew if I wanted to make videos for YouTube then I wanted them to be high quality and put out the best thing I could put out.”
“I had watched a couple of other barbers that inspired me… I thought it was cool to see that they had their products and they had their different things. I had my goals that I wanted to accomplish and I’ve seen that YouTube was helping a lot of people, not just barbers. I started studying a lot of different types of channels.”
“Healthy competition is good for you” he says, talking about haircutting battles. There’s a definite feeling that now he has achieved a recognisable status he shouldn’t be entering into challenges and competing with other people, but he defends his love for the game by telling me “I don’t put myself on a pedestal like celebrity barbers”, and adds “I just do what I do, this is like second nature to me.”
Vick the Barber has started to build his own brand but isn’t detached from the reality of business. He is set to launch his own product range from his barber shop called Timeless which features the gels and foams that any professional barber needs to take their career to the next level.
This, coupled with the release of his fantastic new book ‘The Barber Bible’ means big things are happening for Vick in the near future. “I just finished the last chapter” he tells me “and it was crazy because some chapters I were writing were literally shedding tears because it’s partly about my journey as a barber and mistakes I’ve made that I don’t want other people to make.”
“That’s how you learn to become successful in anything you do; you have to make mistakes. Either that or you have to learn from somebody else’s mistakes. In my case there were certain things that I just had to go through to get to where I’m at.”
I asked him what set this book apart and how it benefited any new barber who was reading it for the first time. He told me “It’s basically an A-Z everything you’re going to come into contact as a barber with and starts you off with going to barber college.” He concludes “just like my DVDs, you can pick up this book and learn how to cut hair.”
The book covers everything you might need to know, from looking for the perfect barbering college to finding your first barbershop to work in. It’s also filled with the personal experiences of Vick and gives reader’s a glimpse into his life and his journey.
As we finish our interview, I ask him what’s special about the room we’re in. “I’ve always wanted my own barber shop” he says, “I always wanted my own little space… I can come in here, sit down, and just read while the other guys are cutting hair.” It gives him a unique setting to film his videos and also keep on learning.
I had the chance to run into another spectacular gent at the Scottish Hair & Beauty awards – Gary Spencer, founder of the Great British Barber Bash. Having worked with the Great British Barber Bash before, it was very exciting to be able to speak with him!
Like Adam Sloan, who I spoke with here: Adam Sloan interview, Gary was there as a judge for the competition, scheduled to hand out the award for barber of the year. Speaking with him, he shared his excitement to be there and slight anxiety about being up on stage, though he wouldn’t give me any hints on who he thought won. For him, the standards of the competitors and what they brought were all fantastic. For him, everyone had a great chance of winning. Asked what sort of cuts and styles he prefers to see in competitions, Gary answered that he believes the overall look is what needs to be taken into consideration, both by judge and competitor.
The Great British Barber Bash has events scheduled every two months at present, the next one scheduled in Liverpool. When I asked about his plans there, he shared that they had quite a line-up: Main Stage, Bomb Squad, Rebel Rabble, Alan B. and fifteen new gentleman from all over. Gary considers it a combination of learning and celebration. “Might as well have fun while you’re learning,” he laughed.
Gary is another incredible persona and person within the barbering community. The Great Barber British Bash is indeed a celebration of barbering and a fantastic learning opportunity. My experience with them has always been phenomenal and Gary is a shining example of how much good barbers coming together can do and it was absolutely my pleasure to speak with him.
While at the Scottish Hair & Beauty Awards, I got a chance to speak with industry leader Adam Sloan. Adam, who runs the Men’s Hairdressing Federation, was there along with BarberNV and SalonNV Magazine.
Adam, a charismatic and energetic man, touched about how he felt presenting an award in the very same category he had been judging – Scottish Hair Stylist of the Year. He was quite excited to be at the awards show and commented on the amount of superb individuals were there and how glad he was to be a part of the show and the community.
The Men’s Hairdressing Federation has given to numerous charity funds in the past and bases its goal around enhancing and supporting men hairdressers. When asked about their upcoming plans, Adam got a knowing smile on his face and told me that the MHFed has plans for some interesting collaborations with other non-profits and organizations to raise funds for charities of prostrate cancer. Given his work in the past, it promises to be quite the event – for now, Adam is being hush-hush on it.
Overall, Adam Sloan showed me, and everyone in attendance, why he is a true leader and an example of a passionate, dedicated individual who loves what he does. Adam is truly an industry leader and you can imagine my delight when he called me an industry leader as well; industry leader in American hair clippers and interviews? I’ll take it!
For those interested in learning more about American hair clippers, check out my site: larrythebarberman.com and stay tuned for more of my interviews and news!