Today I got the chance to find out where and how Garry exploded on to the British barbering scene at the Royal Clifton Hotel in Southport in the Balmoral function room where this event first started, in the very same room! Just like me, barbers are always questioning where Garry came from. The founder of the Great British Barber Bash, Garry Spencer, had hosted this lively event for the very first time last April with such names as: Danny Robinson, Alan Beak, Robin Van Ricks, Sid Sitong, and many others. I actually surprised him here after organizing it with the manager! Classic Barberman style! The idea for the show initially struck Garry while he was walking around a pool in Spain and the rest is history. That first event, that I had the honor of attending, Garry and his crew had no idea whether they would sell sixty tickets or a hundred. Now, the Great British Barber Bash sells between four to five-hundred tickets.
Garry himself got started in the Youth Training Scheme back in 1986, only earning £26 per week, but his determination and passion for barbering pushed him onward. He found himself working in New York for some time before he opened his own barbershop in Preston, sponsored by Paul Mitchell. “I used to go to every hair show that I could,” Garry tells me. “I just absolutely loved it.” He also took the chance to enter into numerous competitions and ended up doing quite well. He opened up his first shop twenty-four years ago and that eventually turned into five shops around Liverpool, Southport and Preston. In every shop, as he puts it, he always pushed to be on the cutting edge of the industry and enjoyed it time and time again.
Unfortunately, when the recession hit Garry found himself enjoying it less and scaled down to one shop. That didn’t stop Garry, however. He went from being a salon owner to managing more events. “I was always good at organizing people,” he explains. “-as well as giving out energy. Really, when you enjoy doing something, it’s not all that hard to get into it.” The second Great British Barber Bash took place in Scotland at the Drygate microbrewery with over two-hundred and seventy people in attendance and included Davey the Barber as well as Rebel Rebel. His last show took place in Liverpool with five-hundred and fifty people and more exhibitors than ever. “I don’t want to have too many exhibitors,” he tells me. “Other events do that. Instead, I want the focus to be on what is happening on stage. I want people to walk in and say “this is cool”, to be talking about it in the car all the way to the event and in the car after leaving it.”
He remains unconcerned about the Barber Bash growing as large as it has. He has big plans: doing four to five shows per year with lots of varied guests. “I’d like to take it to America, at some point, and have gotten an offer to do one in Dubai.” More than anything, he wants the events to be kept short and sweet as well as affordable for attendees. He believes that everyone should get the chance to experience the excitement and challenge of the Great British Barber Bash.” He continues on with more general advice: “You need to be constantly evolving and doing different things,” Garry explains. “The only problem, really, is that with us packing in so much quality stuff it can leave out good people since there is only one winner per in terms of competition. Running competitions is a lot of work, which is why I have only ran two competitions.” However, with experience, and the dedication he has now, Garry has big plans in 2016 to bring back the competition to the Barber Bash; bigger and better than ever before!
For someone who has been cutting hair for thirty years, the majority being men’s hair, as well as someone who has worked at Vidal Sassoons, Garry is someone who has never lost his spirit in wanting to give back to the barbering community. He loves doing educational activities for those interested in the craft and tells me that he wants to expand that sense of community: local, barbers and enthusiasts alike. His advice to others is also incredibly valuable when it comes to promoting their work and businesses alike. “Promotion is key,” he explains. “Social media is a huge driving force and it helps to have a good team on board that can help you run that aspect of your business. I have five people working for the Barber Bash and all of them handle different things. I also respond to all inquiries – especially from new, up and coming people, so don’t be afraid to reach out to me, because I will get back to contactors.”
Garry remembers what it was like to be in that same position and the advice that he got from others. In short, he advises: “Work hard. The harder you work, the luckier you get. Keep everything about quality, not quantity. Keep working, keep going to workshops, keep going to classes – you have to keep evolving.”
In short, Garry is happy to see the successes of the Barber Bash. There is an upcoming even in February in Manchester. Garry himself plans on organizing more competitions, taking the Barber Bash everywhere he can and bringing together a community of barbers, enthusiasts and locals that his long-standing passion has driven him to inspire.
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