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Barbers Interview: Myles Lewis And Alex Perry Of Brads Barbershop /Guerilla Barber)

Today, I sit down at Brad’s Barbershop in Upminster with Myles Lewis, founder of the Guerilla Barber Charity and Alex Perry, co-owner of Brad’s Barbershop.

We start, of course, with what inspired them to get into barbering. We go to Myles first: “I basically wanted to work in an industry where I enjoyed what I did. I’m from a marketing and sales background, and I’ve been cutting hair since I was a kid; never trained. I was literally just doing shaves for my brother’s hair, but I knew I liked it and that I had some kind of flair for it. I saw a video by some guy in America, but it was how barbering changed his life and it showed the barbering industry, so I just jumped right it.” Fitting that Myles would see a video on barbering changing lives and go on to form the Guerilla Barber Charity that has done the same for so many.

Alex, on the other hand, did hairdressing first. “I was a hairdresser for about four years, and I liked it, but it became tedious and I knew it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Watching Adee Phelan doing men’s hair inspired me to specialize in it. Then Brad, my business partner, opened a shop and told me to come in two days a week – it pretty much took off from there.”

Both of them are self-taught, they reveal. Myles Youtubed a lot of his information and got to attend the London School of Barbering eventually, which he naturally jumped on. “I’ve learned a lot from Brad and the Guerilla Barbering boys,” Myles tells me.

Naturally, the subject turns to Myles’ charity the Guerilla Barber Charity. “. I can’t remember when it was, probably about a year ago, I thought to myself, I want to go to London with a foldout chair, some cordless clippers, and cordless trimmers, cut some people’s hair. If I get some tips, I’ll just nip out to wherever, get the homeless guys some food. Kind of make it a nice little thing.” With a few more involved, the charity snowballed into what it is today. Having seen the event for myself, I know that it was absolutely insane, and Myles continues on: “We’ve basically got more and more people involved, and put it out there on social media. There’s me, Luke, Chris, Sam, Nathan, Greg, and Alex, from today, will become another one of our ambassadors. We’ve got a great team behind us, some really highly skilled barbers. We’re doing pop-up shops, and other bits all over London. Last year, we did it for Crisis homeless charity, and this year we’re doing it for Centrepoint, which is 16- to 25-year-olds who have dealt with homelessness.”

Guerilla Barber charity has also done events to raise awareness of homelessness in Manchester, on a recent scale. Alex pitches in this time, as a newly anointed ambassador, “we went to Manchester in November last year. It’s called the Homeless FA Tournament, first football street tournament, and international football street tournament. To be honest, doing the first event last August, then Manchester November, I was hooked on it. As a barber, there’s not a lot you can do with your skills to help the homeless. Like Myles said, you give them free haircuts and they grow out. Being out of work, doing these events and helping barbering, actually cut hair for people and the money goes and helps these things like the Homeless FA, it’s great.”

And how would those who want to get involved do so? May 1st, 206 will be host to another event in the Shoreditch or East London area – TBA. “We’re going to have concession stands where people can basically bring some clippers down and sell them. 10% will go, from whatever anyone takes on their concession, to the charity, and to Guerrilla Barbering and who we support. It’s something that we really want to get going annually, and more national than just London. We’re starting small. We’ve only been doing it just over a year. It’s planting the seed and growing the tree basically, see what we can do from there.” Myles adds.

As for barbers, Alex and Myles advise: Guerrilla Barbering on Facebook, Instagram @guerrillabarbering, Twitter @guerrillabarber. Contact us through there, or you can speak to Al on Instagram @alexthebarber90, @myleslewisbarber. Anyone you see with a picture with a gorilla’s head on it is pretty much Guerrilla Barbering, so you can speak to anyone that’s involved and they’ll always point you in the right direction.”

 

With my recent interview with Gary Machin, chairman on the Barber Council, I ask Alex and Myles about their feelings on registration. “The way it should work,” Alex answers, “—is that it should be made more public that barbers have to be standardized. In America, everyone knows it.” He agrees with Myles that it is obsolete if there are people registered who aren’t very good at their craft, but both agree that awareness should be spread if there is going to be more momentum behind the #get registered campaign and other awareness campaigns for registration.

 

And what are these two loving about the barbering industry right now? “I like the way that everyone has been over to America,” Myles tells me. “Like yourself. We’ve never really had a presence from the UK over there. Alan and Reece Beak went to LA, and they’re the kind of people that should be over there.”

“I really like the fact that the UK is getting exposure over there, and to have any kind of influence on the American barbering industry, which is huge, is fantastic.”

As for their dislikes, outside of the state of registration, Myles and Alex both chip in. Myles tells me, “There’s a lot of Instagram numbers, but the numbers don’t match the skillsets. You can have a lot of followers, but that doesn’t make you a stellar barber or a barber celebrity. I don’t personally care about Instagram. If you get some good followers, brilliant. You see someone like Jay Roboff, who does work with us over in Sheffield, and he’s amazing. Others see it and thing, “well, it’s not a fade” so it’s only got three likes, or whatever. It’s like we have industry sheep, and we really need to break that.” Alex agrees that barbers are largely judged by their fades in the media, and little else. “There’s so many who are in it for the limelight. A good fade is a talent, don’t get me wrong, but there is so much more out there.”

 

Finally, their advice to barbers who might be on the fence. Alex tells me that they should concentrate on themselves at the end of the day. Be inspired by what is around you directly. If you want to go into the industry, you’ve got to be open-minded about it, and concentrate on yourself and your work.

Myles adds in that he believes that barbers need to go in for the right reasons, and concentrate on their work. “Be serious about it. If you feel you need to be a barber because you want to make people look better and feel better about themselves, do it.”

 

In Barberman fashion, I have to turn the conversation to their tools. Myles tells me they are using, at the moment: Andis Fade Masters (US version), the GTX Andis, Andis T-Liners, cordless SuperTapers with a MagicClip blade on, a pair of Wahl Seniors and T-Cuts by Wahl. Alex pitches in with his own tool kit, and a bit of a story, “About six months ago, we got robbed, and all of my kit got stolen. That was everything I had built up over the years. Since then, I’ve been trying to find my setup again. Right now, I’m using: the Andis Masters (US version), Wahl cordless SuperTapers with a MagicClip blade and an Andis SlimLine Pro Trimmer.” Quite the impressive set of tools, if I do say so myself.

 

To keep up with Myles, Alex and the Guerilla Barber charity crew, you can check out their Facebook at Facebook.com/guerrillabarbering or follow them on Twitter @guerillabarber, or Instagram @mylewisthebarber and @alexthebarber90.

If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to subscribe to see more interviews, tutorials and content! For more information, you can email me at: info@larrythebarberman.com. I’d also like to invite you to follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com

 

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Barbers Interview: Barbers Interview : Neal Toner And Mick Graham (Just For Him Male Grooming)

Cooling out at the Great British Barber Bash in Belfast, I get a chance to sit down with Neal and Mick from Just For Him Grooming. Being the Barberman, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get their stories and insights into the barbering industry.

 

Neal is up first as I ask about their inspiration and what led them into barbering. “My motivation and inspiration honestly came from being inspired by clothing, which led on to hairstyles in my younger years. I also have to give my Dad some credit, because he had seen potential in the local market for business. Business was my first idea, which led on to become a passion of barbering. It’s taken over, it’s the fastest growing industry in the world, and it’s really found its way into my heart.”

Mick adds on his own story, “I started about three years ago. I was always into doing my own hair, and other’s hair as well. Even before that, I’d spend time styling someone’s hair for them for a night or so and it sort of went from there. I literally bought a pair of hair clippers from McCargall’s and started cutting hair from home.”

 

The duo first got together back when Mick was one of Neal’s clients. Neal adds on, “He was doing car bodywork at the time and wasn’t really passionate about pursuing it as a career. So, we talked and the fact that I needed more staff came up. Mick wanted to work, so we took it on a very loose and light basis initially. He started out doing the usual Saturday stuff, but within three or four months he was cutting on the floor. He just blossomed.”

 

Just For Him Grooming boasts a unique style within its walls. I ask Neal about it and he explains, “Our initial design for the last six years was designed the same way you’ve designed your living room. We’ve picked a nice color scheme, what’s current, in a sort of cream and brown. We didn’t really have money to put into an interior designer. It’s no surprise that we’ll soon have a new salon, which will be attached to our current salon which is also getting work done to it. Our theme will be changing, and will be revealed eventually.”

 

I switch back to Mick and ask about the sorts of hairstyles that they specialize in. “A lot of people who follow us on Instagram know us for our different type of styling,” Mick explains. “We like to do things a bit differently. I think that skin fades are everybody’s thing at the moment, but people are also saying that they think skin fades are going to die out soon. Not to speak for everyone, but I personally think that skin fades are going to stick around for a long time. So, our main thing at the minute is skin fades with lots of nice texture on top, or doing something nice and big – those are along the lines of what we’re doing at the moment.”

 

On the subject of skin fades, Mick tells me it is what we can expect to see from himself, Neal and Jamey onstage at the Great British Barber Bash. “We’re all on at three today. I’ll be doing skin fades and, on top it’s very curly, so we’ll just be diffusing the top and bringing out the natural curl in the hair.” He feels that the Bash, at least for him, is more about everyone getting together. “Obviously, we’re on stage and we’re going to be explaining things, and hopefully people will pick up a couple of things, but we’re not here to tell people how to cut hair. It’s more a laid back bit of fun.”

 

What about education for Neal and Mick? Neal explains that for the past two or three years, he’s begun taking part in educating. “My first protocol was training Mick at the start, obviously. There’s nothing more that I love than working nine-to-nine in the salon. Our clients are all integrated in with the banter between us, and it’s just a cool vibe.”

 

Neal and Mick also have a product range under the Just For Him Grooming name, as Neal explains. “We’ve worked with Patrick Bell, who we must give a wee shout out to — a great company to work alongside for our products. We’ll go from one extreme to the other. We’ll have an extremely dry mud clay, which gives the natural effect. But we also have another fudge shaper. They’re all under the Just For Him Grooming brand. The fudge shaper originally was tweaked slightly and slightly wetter, and it’s something we’re looking forward to using through the summer.”

As for apparel, Mick suggests that there is something in the works, but it’s a bit hush-hush for now.

“It’s quite frustrating,” Neal adds. “A couple of the guys in the industry that we look up to massively, they’re doing this and have been for quite a while. There are guys that we aspire towards, and they know how hard it is to truly get a garment and clothing right. We’ve been working with prototypes back and forth, but it’s something that requires a great deal of patience.”

 

Consider it the Barberman luck, but as I ask them about their greatest moment as a business partnership, they reveal that it is the very day I have sat down with them at the Great British Barber Bash. “We cut live onstage in Liverpool,” Mick reveals. “Today, we’re at the main stage and I think today will be the highlight of our careers so far.”

“Prior to today,” Neal adds. “I think we’ve had good onstage moments. We recently teamed up with Garry Spencer and the Barber Bash team for education. Our biggest seminar to date, which I’ve been doing quite a lot of lately, was in Paisley, at the weekend. I think that was a day that sort of touched both of us to get to a salon, sort of nice surroundings, and see the crowd just there and think “this is it, this is our time”.”

 

And what is it that they’re loving about the barbering industry in particular? Neal starts with, “Quite a lot of things to be honest. I touched on this at our last education day. A lot of frequently asked question on stage is “Who inspires you, what haircuts inspire you?” .I think, for both of us, we’re sort of getting a lot of inspiration from haircuts, and that won’t change because it’s what we love. But, in our industry at the minute I’m getting inspiration from people more so now, I’m just loving the vibe.”

Mick adds, “Everybody is playing a role. It’s great to see. As Neal said, you look at haircuts all the time, like this person’s done this haircut and that’s unreal. I think when you actually meet the person and see how they in real life, that is a perfect example for it. You see him onstage. We did a thing in Belfast with him there up at Gary Jackson’s in Hollywood. We went out for dinner and stuff and, yeah, he’s the perfect example. I mean everybody is at the minute in the industry — I’m loving that.”

 

And what of the dislikes? Mick starts us off, “The people who are trying to become celebrity barbers is a big one for me. We actually spoke recently on this sort of thing. You cut hair in your shop, cool, but some people are going out on the streets and acting like they’re celebrities, like they are bigger and badder than everyone else. I don’t really like it.”

As for Neal, it is the negativity. “I repel negativity. In the industry at the minute, there is that bit of negativity out there. It’s not from old school barbers, it’s not fair to put it on that term because I have a lot of old school barber friends who are extremely talented in old school techniques, which I’m not. I do find some who tend to be in the industry slightly longer than us not enjoying the vibe that we’re putting out – that barber life vibe. The Great British Barber Bash, is a prime example, because those people won’t be here today. Why? Because they don’t like positive energy.” They also bring up a dodgy bar briefly, a subject that many barbers have touched upon as of late, especially with the #get registered campaign from the Barber Council.

 

With the negativity that has been present in social media, I ask how instrumental they feel it has been in the success of their business. Neal feels that they are busy due to hard work and dedication, though the duo does feel that, event wise, social media is everything. “My hard craft during the day isn’t how I’ve known them. It’s through social media. Mick and I’s profile has been raised quite a bit, which we’re over the moon about, through the Barber Bash. The education, the Instagram, all those things. It’s massive for anybody coming up. Get yourself an Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.”

 

Who is it that inspires these two? Neal lists off some familiar names: Josh Lamonaca, Charlie Gray, Eric from Slick’s, Garry Spencer, Colin from Hard Grind, just to name a few. For Mick, he lists off: The Greens, Harry and Reese, Reese Beak, Colin from Hard Grind, Paul Preacher – there’s almost too many to list.

 

As a bit of a self-plug, I ask them about their experience with the Frequency60hz converter. “I couldn’t do without my Wahl Senior. That’s not to say we don’t use Andis for the sponsors, but our experience has been amazing.” Mick agrees, “Wahl Seniors are, for me, the best clipper. I use a lot of Andis stuff as well, Andis trimmers for example. I can’t go back to the standard UK clippers now.”

Neal adds, much to my delight: “Believe what Larry says. If you’re like me or like Mick, you don’t want to be ordering a package from Larry and not taking his full advice on what converter to get. Because you’ll get your package and you’re going to call one of your mates and go “Meet me down at the salon now, I need to use these clippers”. You’ve got to plug them into your shitty converter, and that’s not going to work. Take Larry’s advice, it’s true, it’s not a sales pitch. You need the proper converter, which Larry sells. Get yourself a set of Andis foil shavers, a Wahl Senior, and an Andis trimmer.”

 

Finally, their advice to barbers who want to get into the game: “The thing I say to everybody is you need to be willing to put in long hard hours. We put in so many hours, like nine to nine three, four nights a week. So, when you’re starting off .I’ve noticed over the past maybe year or so, that there’s a lot of people that get into barbering thinking “I’m going to pick up a pair of clippers, shave this hair right up, I’m going to become a barber. Easy money.” But that’s not it, there’s so much more to it than that. For any young person to think I might start it, you need to have love for it and you really need to be willing to put in all the hours. But, it’s a brilliant thing to be part of at the minute.” True enough. It’s all about the barber life, and these two are no exception.

 

To keep up with Neal, Mick and the Just For Him Grooming crew, you can check out their Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Just-For-Him-Male-Barbers-Salon/148102858579662 or follow them on Instagram @just_for_him_male_grooming.

If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to subscribe to see more interviews, tutorials and content! For more information, you can email me at: info@larrythebarberman.com. I’d also like to invite you to follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com

 

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Menspire Barber Shop, Josh Lamonaca Talk Barberbering

I sit down today in beautiful St. Albans with Josh Lamonaca of Menspire Barbershop. Josh is an industry educator, an owner of a range of products and co-owner to the barbershop. Today, I get a chance to find out where this stylish teacher got his beginning in barbering as well as his plans for the future.

 

Josh started out when he was fifteen, he recollects. He was doing his friend’s hair at the time, and was heavily inspired by football players such as David Beckham and Darren Huckerby. “They had really cool hairstyles, and it influenced me to grow a particular hairstyle but I was never able to quite get it right. At the time, I was extremely dissatisfied that I couldn’t achieve a hairstyle similar to the guys that I was inspired by.” He goes on to explain that his dissatisfaction led to him becoming particular about his hair and the style in which he wore it. Eventually, his aunt started doing his hair which Josh explains gave him the freedom to liaise with her about the length, amongst other things. In short, it gave him more freedom of expression and that eventually led to having a near self-stated obsession and passion with hair. It became a hobby for Josh onward – he found himself frequently cutting and using clippers on his friends’ hair as well as cutting bits and bobs of his own hair. “I remember having a small pair of scissors from Wilkinson’s, and that was basically it. I eventually went to St. Albans Football Academy to study for a diploma in spirts and exercise science. I was on that course for about two years, and during this time I was still sort of doing friends hair.”

 

As Josh puts it, the passion eventually got so strong that it outran football. “I wanted to obviously work in a barber’s and the main day was a Saturday and it was very tough to obviously take a Saturday off and as I transferred from Youth Football to Men’s Football. To play football on a Saturday was detrimental to being a barber.”  This would lead to him going into a barbering course at Barnfield College in Luton. “I was taught by Paul Mills, Craig Bennett, and Steve Campbell. Through these guys, I really started to up my skills where they had been from obviously being self-taught. These guys were Afro-Carribean barbers, and working with them really took me through the depths of fading, marking out and outline work. From there, I did a years’ course and turned eighteen at the time.”

He continues on to tell me, “The head of the department, Paul Mills, suggested I go into women’s hair. Because the college was so diluted with the student to teacher ratio, I just found myself unable to concentrate on women’s hair. I was struggling – I remember that period of struggle and how the struggling only motivated me more. Still, I thought about giving up. As time got on, I met a gentleman from Hob’s Salon in Mill Hill by the name of Mario. I asked if I could shadow him at his salon because he was actually teaching at Barnfield once per week. Between working with him and going to school, I was pretty much working seven days a week. It was grating, but it has paid off now. In essence, one of them noticed my portfolio of men’s hair I had done and was impressed. They said to me, “If we teach you women’s hair the way that we do it, then would you take a job here?” Naturally, I said yes.”

 

Josh would then go on to Hob Academy in Camden to be trained by the likes of Akin Konizi, who has won British Hairdresser of the Year multiple times, Darren Bain, who has also been named London Hairdresser of the Year, as well as Andrea Martinelli. “I am truly grateful for my experience with every single one of the people who taught me,” he adds.

 

Asked about his incredibly motivated attitude and sense of direction, Josh answered, “I’ve always been motivated, and I think that that is a given when you have a sports mentality. I think it’s important to maintain the right balance; you should not be all work. There has to be an end goal and a way to achieve it. You have to keep moving forward. If you have to step aside at one point, do so, but if you keep moving backwards than that goal is only going to become more and more distant.”

 

Style-wise, Josh and the others at Menspire Salon take a different approach. “It is a combination between classic and precision barbering as well as soft, voluminous hairdressing. For us, it’s really about combining the two to make something beautiful, because men’s hair should be beautiful. It does not always need to be sharp and precise.”

A good deal of his inspiration, per Josh, comes from a lot of hairdressing based work, such as the work coming out of Zega Academy or something to the likeness of Vidal Sassoons. On the barbering side, Josh tells me that he thinks the Americans are really doing some beautiful work.”

 

Josh has several events in the near future. Asked about what he is looking forward to, he answers, “The main event that I’m looking forward to at the moment is Salon London, which is the sister event of Salon International, with the Young Feds. It’s great working with them, with Adam and Joe Sloan who govern it – the variation between the guys always makes for a great time and working with the Young Feds can really give you the exposure to be seen by and inspire people. I’m also looking forward to Pro-Hair Manchester which I will be attending with my artistic team here at Menspire.”

 

Education has always played a big part in the Menspire brand. When it comes to what someone can expect from an in-house course or Josh going into the field to teach them, Josh explains: “Generally, with our education, we aim to help someone’s personal progression in both their skillset and their mindset. What you might expect is to learn about: fading, a step-by-step method of how to layer, project, and how to work with hair growth patterns, etc. Our initiative is to basically bring hairdressing skills to barbering and vice versa.

 

As mentioned earlier, Josh has a range of Menspire products available that come in a very wide range: hair care, skin care, tools, as well as apparel, to make it brief. “With our hair care products, we have a full line suitable for all hair types, textures as well as different characteristics. For skin care, we have face wash and everything you could possibly need in your bathroom to look good, basically. As for the clothing line, we have the Menspire Male Image and Grooming Label to add to the brand as a form of recognition and prestige for our clients and people of interest can feel a part of. When we decided to work with the name ‘Menspire’, we wanted something that everyone could be a part of as well as be recognized as more than just a moniker above the door.”

“There is a little bit of a lack of guidance when it comes to scissors,” Josh continues. “As barbers, we tend to use a lot of clippers. We have a small range of scissors that blow that myth about scissors in barbering right out of the water. First and foremost is the Precision Master–,” he shows me a beautifully crafted pair of red and black scissors [featured below], “—they are 5.5 inches. Now, the beauty of their design and size is that it is crucial for working hairlines around the ears, necklines as well as if you are creating small fringes. The comfort of these scissors has been specifically designed with the barber in mind. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the thumb-bearer is actually slightly beveled right on the edge. It makes it so you can literally work right on the edge rather than placing your thumb all the way through, which helps the barber avoid any strain on the wrist.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Next, we have the Menspire 6 inch scissors. These, for me, are beautiful for personalizing every aspect of the cut, and you can achieve similar precision to the 5.5s’. However, from my perspective, this has the perfect weight and comfort for point cutting, channel cutting, slicing and removing; it’s another winner.”

“Last, we have the 6.5 inch silver scissor [featured below]. The detail in this set is profound – there is a small ridge on the thumb so you do not have to thumb the ring itself, but allows for an extra piece that you can work your thumb through. It gives you incredible control and precision, and is absolutely fantastic for any kind of layering. It’s got that wide blade and the size of the scissor is just perfect.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Menspire collection also comes with scissors for left-handed barbers, as well as a gorgeous, and highly rated, razor the Menspire Cutthroat. It goes without saying that their product line is truly admirable.

 

In traditional Barberman fashion, I talked clippers and trimmers with Josh. “The Wolf Stinger, for me, is absolute power,” he tells me. “That detachable blade and that power will zing hair off in two seconds. My go-to trimmer is the Pro-Mate. A professional trimmer is fairly unheard of, but I am so passionate that I went out and bought a bagful. The amount of research that went into this trimmer really does make it a top of the line trimmer for outlining and detailing. The clipper itself is almost like a skeleton – you can literally detach the front parts as you like. As for middle equipment, I love the Wahl Senior, but I’m going to have to split this because the practicality of a cordless clipper is second to none.

 

When it comes to the future, Josh teases at expanding the brand to international levels, hopefully towards the United States and possibly Australia, as well as more of Europe. “The main goal is that we will be moving forward. The UK is great, but I want to go a bit further in the field. Not to globally dominate, mind, but to just inspire anywhere and everywhere we can reach.

 

That concluded my interview with the motivated master of education and sexy scissors. I can speak for the barbering community when I say how excited I am to see what Josh and Menspire do in the future.

 

If you enjoyed this interview then don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for more, follow me on Instagram, and http://www.facebook.com/larrythebarberman pages for other free barbering content. I’d also like to invite you to check out more interviews, tutorials and content on my YouTube channel at: www.barbers.tv. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com.

 

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Barber Council Chairman: Gary Machin’s Interview With Larry The Barberman

I sit down today in Gary’s Barbershop in Belfast with Mr. Gary Machin, chairman of the Barber Council himself. I aim to find out about Gary’s experience, both as a barbershop owner and as a chairman of the Barber Council.

Like always, I start by asking about their beginnings. Gary tells me that it was a bit of a family affair. “I’ll admit, it wasn’t my first choice in the beginning, but I followed by dad into the trade as a third generation barber. I had an indentured apprenticeship at fifteen, and ended up leaving school and starting work in the barbershop at twelve or thirteen years old.” Gary very quickly realized that customer service was the golden ticket when it came to important qualities in a barber, as well as the work ethic showed by his father. “From there, I did my apprenticeship, which was three years and then two years in Prueve to qualify as a barber. It’s been thirty-two years now – I really can’t believe it. I don’t know where the years have gone.”

Gary also found his passion in education, though he is still behind the chair in his shop Monday to Friday, and sometimes Saturday if he isn’t teaching. “I got into teaching purely to take control of our own education within the salons. We have six shops, and got all family as well as two brothers. From an educational standpoint, we just wanted to make a difference.”

Gary’s work in shop confirms that, as a chairman of the Barber Council, he understands the importance of staying current when it comes to education. “Educators should be working barbers, work hairdressers, because I don’t think you should be preaching or teaching if you can’t actually do the things you are teaching – if you can’t talk the talk,” Gary explains. “I educate for quite a few different companies, and work for awarding organizations, but if I’m not doing that then I am behind the chair. That’s very important to us.”

With his progressive attitude, it is no wonder he was elected as a chairman to the Barber Council. Asked about how he moved into the role, Gary explains that it wasn’t something he chased. “From the point of view of the council, I had been a registered barber since 1997. I was an advocate of not so much regulating the industry, but improving it. When the actual Barber Council was formed, I was asked to chair in it. It was out of the blue, and I was honestly blown away.” Gary’s role was one given via a number of professionals putting him into it, rather than one he actively chased, as mentioned previously; he doesn’t seem all that bothered by it, however!

Gary also provides a very concise view on what the Barber Council truly is and represents, as many people are still unsure of it. “The Barber Council was set up in 2014, and we’ve been running it since. The Hair Council, on the other hand, was set up in 1964. It was backed by Parliament, so we have a bill that means we are the official registrar for hairdressers and barbers. Although, when it was set up, barbers wasn’t in the actual name, which is why it is called the Hair Council no. Our registrar, which is Sally Styles, had to go to Parliament and ask if we could have a separate barber council. We had to go to the home secretary for that and he agreed, thus the Barber Council was formed in 2014.”

“The Barber Council, from our point of view, is a council formed for all the stakeholders within the industry: people on the council, distributors, manufacturers and barbers. We’ve got educators as well as organizations, like: the National Hairdressers Federation, the British Barbers Association, and the Men’s Hairdressing Federation; really, anyone with a stake in the industry is represented on the council.”

When it comes to the purpose of the Barber Council, I ask what Gary is hoping to accomplish with his fellow council members. “I get asked that all the time,” he laughs. “Obviously, I love this industry, but from the council’s point of view, barbering is not a registered profession; simple as that. We are not a regulated, registered profession, and that is just ridiculous to me. Everybody uses either a hairdresser or barber in their lives, and they expect us to be qualified and registered. Sadly, we aren’t.” As for the hashtag campaign floating around, #get registered, Gary gives me some insight. “That’s more pointed towards the fact that we need members. At the moment, we are a voluntary, registered organization, but we want it to be mandatory from the industry point of view. The hashtag is to make hairdressers and barbers aware, but also to bring public awareness into it. Anybody can buy a pair of clippers, a razor, a chair, a mirror and set themselves up – it’s wrong. You tell someone that you aren’t regulated, and they’re absolutely gobsmacked.”

As for the forty-two pound fee, Gary explains, “It proves you are a professional, are educated to a certain level, and it proves that we are something. You can use the initials after your name to show you are a state registered hairdresser or barber. From my point of view, it gives us a voice. If the whole industry joined together and pulled in one direction, we would have a voice in Parliament. Whether that be for minimum wage or tax controls, the truth is that we are underrepresented in Parliament. The fact that they are actually taking notice is the most important thing to me. Other than that, we have a quarterly magazine that showcases your work and helps identify who has been registered. We also have different insurance policies that you can actually get a discount on. You’re also able to access training and store cards. What you’ve got to remember is that if this does take off and becomes mandatory, the price will drop. I mean, really, with the discount the registration fee works out to be three pound fifty – that’s unbelievable.”

Gary feels strongly about the current state of the barbering industry in terms of registration. “We did a survey throughout the country and in a lot of local councils, you don’t even have to register with the council. It’s got to the point where people aren’t even adhering to local byelaws, qualifications wise. I think we have to go from a health and safety point of view, because from our surveys and our consultations, its contamination, cross-contamination, reusing towels, not wearing gloves for shaving. I mean these are mandatory … The actual public expect this, but obviously it isn’t happening. Such as wearing gloves while we are doing any kind of shave – any risk of blood, and you should be wearing gloves. That’s been in the actual national occupational standards for fifteen years, and you have people currently using cutthroat razors or open razors without gloves.”

He also is happy to explain the differences in organizations like the BBA versus the Barber Council. “I think from an industry point of view and from the public point of view, people are kind of, “well I’ll go with those or I’ll pick those, I’ll pay the twenty-five pounds or I’ll pay the one-hundred pounds or, you know, I can’t be-” I understand that. We can’t be affiliated to every organization, but from a Barber Council organization, we are the only statutory body that is representing the barbering and hairdressing industry through Parliament. From Parliament point of few, we are the, if you like, the go-to organization. If they want a particular rep on something that is in happening in the industry, they come to us or our affiliations to actually what is happening or what do we need to do. Now, if we all join and push in that right direction, in one direction, you’ve got a bigger voice, haven’t we? Simple as that. There’s no ulterior motive.”

In closing, I ask how other barbers can get involved with the Barber Council; how they can be found on social media. Gary answers: “The Barber Council is, if you like, on par with the Hair Council. If you Google Hair Council, it will take you straight to our website. At the moment, we’ve got a company whose renewing the website, who’s rebuilding the website. If you go onto the website, we’ve got our own barber page on there. You can go to wherever registered barbers are is the homepage there, as well. We are actually at all the shows. We try to get to most shows up and down the country. We have a stand there as well.” He also adds in his two pence on social media briefly, “The thing with social media is that it can be very good, and also not so good. People tend to get on there, throw the proverbial hand grenade and then walk off. We all have this in our business, we get some doubters, but we try not to do anything negative on there and accommodate everyone.”

I am sure many have had their questions answered here today. Gary is a passionate educator, barber and representative of the industry. He is another reminder of how powerful the barber life is when we all ban together to make the industry a better one.

To keep up with Gary and the Barber Council, you can check out the council’s site at: http://haircouncil.org.uk/pages/barberc.php, follow him on Twitter @MachinGary or @haircouncil, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/haircouncil. Follow the #get registered campaign and help make the barbering and hair industry a better one!

If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to subscribe to see more interviews, tutorials and content! For more information, you can email me at: info@larrythebarberman.com. I’d also like to invite you to follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com

 

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Barber: Christopher Burke Talks To Larry The Barber Man

I sat down with Chris Burke of the Charisma Design Studio. The first insight he gives me into his career is his beginnings. “I never pursued barbering,” he admits. “There was a cool guy who did it, and he got everything that he wanted. I wanted to be like that guy, so I started on the path. I enrolled in barbering school after that, and my mindset got me into trouble. I literally got kicked out of barbering school and I had to start all over; therein, I learned my first lesson. You have to let the instructors teach you. I had talent, but I also had a big head when it came to school. It was humbling.”

Officially, his career began the summer of 1987. He talks about his mentor, Debi Fields and how she found him cutting hair in the projects without a license. She said, “I will mentor you if you take the time and go to school, apply yourself and get your license; and she did. She exposed me to what it’s like to have a product distributorship. She actually purchased one and then let me run it as an assistant. Debi really helped me out. I was probably with her for twelve years… The whole time, she was like a mom to me.”

Chris’ current, and biggest, project is ‘B Groomed’, a two day/three city tour put on by Jason Nelson. “Jason’s got a project in Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, and with the show it’s going to be completely different.” Chris goes on to explain how they found that barbers were being underserved in the market of trade shows: many times pushed into the corners, and without any real support from show promoters. “For a show like IBS, the barbers are capable of doing the same thing (cosmetologist do),” he adds. “But, we don’t have that kind of training.” The B Groomed production team is bringing in their expertise to make a barbering show that benefits the barbers as well as the sponsors. That’s the big thing that’s different about ‘B Groomed’. We’re on tour currently in three cities, and the goal is going to be to add more, hopefully, some in the UK. “I love you guys in Europe – there’s so much energy, and you guys are unified.”

Chris serves as the admin for The Barber Society, an online Facebook group where one can post, make comments, share and learn. “That’s our tagline,” Chris explains. “You can post pictures, ask questions, and the people who know the answers will comment. Everyone is sharing information, and hopefully everybody that has a question is learning. The topics can range from ‘What clipper should I use to do this?’ or ‘How should I run my shop?’ or anything. It’s a twenty-four hour learning session, that runs three hundred and sixty-five days a year.”

He adds that many times manufacturers may send a particular product, which you get to test on your clients: different hair textures, lengths,etc., and you’re just commenting on your experience with it. What in turn happens is that the company who made the product can actually perfect it using the input from the testing and research.

“It didn’t all start with Barber Society. First I had a group called the ‘Network of Christian Salon Professionals’ and we did well with that. We got people from all over the world into that, but it never really grew to anything big, and I transferred a lot of my efforts into The Barber Society, and it grew…”

He also comments about writing his books. “I’m in the shop at least three days a week and working on The Barber Society, fulltime. I initially downsized my time in the shop so I could spend some time writing my books. And, that first book, ‘What’s He Going To Say Next?’, that’s all I had in mind. But, once I was finished, I wanted to make a leadership pamphlet. So, the “Leadership System For Barbers” is my second book.Now, I think what I need to do is get back out into the shop ownership arena, just to back up what I talk about in that leadership book. I’ve got to have an environment that I cultivate new leaders and make them prove what we’re talking about is right.”

“It took a lot of time for me to look back and say, ‘What have I done? What have I experienced? What has someone done for me?’, when I wrote that book. But, I’ve got to put my hands to the plow and produce the next generation of barber leaders. I’m going to open up another salon/barbershop.”

Chris feels the relationship with the client is empowering, and part of that mentality is certainly showing in ‘B Groomed’.

“One thing I’d like to see with ‘Be Groomed’,” Chris tells me, “is that as we travel around the country with this massive project that draws all of this attention, we want to empower the people in the cities that we come to. It’s a little bit different from the celebrity barbers coming to a place like New York, and then professionals coming to see them, but then they go away and these ‘experts’ go to their own places. But, when you come to the ‘Be Groomed’ events, you’ll see that there’s going to be people from Chicago that we use, as we’ve drawn seven thousand people to the event. We’re saying, “… and this guy is right in your city.” We’ll do the same thing in Los Angeles. We’ll be highlighting people that are from right there, we’ll be promoting that they can do some of the very same things that the greats can do, and we want to leave that mark. We want to ignite something great for barbering in every city that we go.”

To keep up with Chris, ‘B Groomed’ and The Barber Society, you can follow him on:

Facebook: Christopher Burke Twitter: @KingdomHair Instagram: @charismadesign

You won’t want to miss the fantastic ‘Be Groomed’ tour! www.B-Groomed.com

‘What’s He Gonna Say Next?’ and ‘A Leadership System for Barbers’ are both available for download at TheBarberSociety.bigcartel.com

If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to subscribe Http://www.barbers.tv  to see more interviews, tutorials and content! For more information, you can email me at: info@larrythebarberman.com. I’d also like to invite you to follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman for other free barbering content.

Christopher Allen Burke

Charisma Design Studio

5310 East Main Street

Suite #110

Columbus, Ohio 43213

(614) 304-1288

 

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Richy The Barber Of Filthy Barber’s Interview With Larry & U.K Co

 

Whether or not you’ve been to Queens in New York, you’ve more than likely heard of Richie the barber of Filthy Rich Barbershop. Today, I sit down with Kevin Luchmun, Fabian from Champ’s Barbers, as well as Champ himself, Alan Beak, and the main man Richie. With some pizza and beers spread around, I get the chance to talk with an all-star cast and get the scoop on Richie himself.

Asked about his origins, Richie related that he started out broke and in need of a haircut. Raising the money when he could, he went to his first homeboy barber. “He hooked me up,” Richie tells me. “Gave me a nice tool around, skin-fade and a half-moon because I was deeply in love with the hip-hop lifestyle. New York is where it all started, so that figured. My mom was fortunately a beautician in life, so I would take her equipment and try and mimic that cut, but the quality just wasn’t the same. I convinced her to go with me to the nearest store so I could get myself a good Wahl Clipper”. Richie explains that his first barber was the one that inspired him to go to Atlas Barber School in his city.

“Let me go way, way back before how I became a barber.” Richie tells me, “I was so advanced in barbering that I took it to another level in the school. I was learning through self-taught haircuts, by which I mean I went to pretty much look at the mirror, and look at the guys in school. How do I become a good barber? That was the thought on my mind. I gave myself a fade, a skin-fade. I mastered that. I gave myself a taper. I mastered that. I gave myself a long hair cut with scissors. Mastered that. Then someone in high school says, “Hey man, who did your haircut?” I said, “I did.” They’re like, “Nah.” I said, “Yo, I’ll do your haircut.” Time was rough, I wanted to make some money. I was charging guys five bucks. I’m like, “Hey man, let me cut your hair for five dollars.” He’s like, “All right. I’ll do it. I’m paying fifteen dollars down the block. I might as well pay a man who’s charging five dollars to give me a haircut.” I aced it. I killed it. I was so happy.” Richie was working out of the house he shared with his mom and siblings, and was helping to pay rent. “When I went to the school, they said “So, you want to be a barber?”. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking “I already am a barber”.”

Richie explains that working the streets was especially difficult for him because he is an Asian barber. “Dealing with all other ethnicities of barbers, I got rejected a lot. They put me in the back of a shop; it got really racist. Luckily, my clients from the school ended up saving the day. They proved to me that I could cut hair.” He relates a story from those days. “I worked in this barbershop for literally one week because of this incident I’m about to share. This kid next to me had a long line of clientele one day, and this one guy just could not wait, so I took him on. , I cut his hair. Homeboy loved it. The second guy in that chair liked it. I worked so fast, I finished the haircut in 10 minutes. That guy finished the haircut in 30 minutes. I got into speed so fast. I became a speed barber. I was knocking his clients out. He got so mad at me that he threw the clipper at me like a scorpion. This guy was trying to hit me! I was just done.” He wound up going to a salon that had the culture of his people. They charged twelve dollars for haircuts, so he charged eight dollars and subsequently had the salon filled. “I really got the business going, and I got the money to open my own shop. From eight dollars to charging over fifty, Richie saw his life change within ten years.

The shop he opened would go on to be the famous Filthy Rich, a name coined while eating pizza and drinking beer, funnily enough. The name stuck, and Richie found himself going forward. “I saved up the money, got the license and opened the shop – I was by myself for four years.” He tells me. “No one wanted to work with me, not even mad barbers, but somehow I afforded the two-thousand dollar shop by myself. After I raised my price in the second year, business started popping off. I started creating designs when it took off in 2005. I became the kid who did freestyle designs.”

Social media endeavors began when someone simply told him to get into Myspace. After he tossed up his material, it got viral enough that people actually started to copy his designs en mass. Things spiraled onward to Soul Magazine, where Richie was a sneaker collector. “The Dunks were popping up at that time. SD’s, if you know. This girl came to me and asked me to put a sneaker print on her head, like she had stepped in snow. I said sure. After that, someone from M-O-B’s out of New Jersey hit me up and asked if I’d be interested in doing design battles. You know, becoming a real major league barber. They told me I had to get into color, and that threw me for a loop. Luckily, I had a friend that assisted me back in the day. We drew a koi fish, because of my heritage, and because I wanted to win this thing with some luck. I drew this beautiful koi fish with the coloring, and it ended up looking lavish. After my competition came out, I got battled by two twin boys who had high-top fades,” he shakes his head. “Lost the whole thing to two guys with high-top fades with glitter on them. Still, I increased my money so much that I was willing to open a shop. Luckily, I called my squad. I had my boy, 360. Bless him. He’s my ride-or-die bud.” His sister was a beautician that ended up joining him as a barber after tiring of women’s hair, as well.

Richie’s other give guys “came out of nowhere”, as he puts it, though he attributes them finding him to social media sites such as Instagram, Myspace, and Pinterest.

We switched over to Kevin, then, and I gave him some questions to ask Richie for my people back home in London. The first question had to do with how he feels about the comparison between how UK haircuts are done versus American haircuts. Richie answers, “I followed a lot of the hairstyle and lifestyle, but I was always trying to figure out how we can compare it with the barber, and tie in the cleaner way. Back in the days, there was no skin-fades in your side, but you guys had a lot of style. You had a lot of fringing. A lot of mess. Especially the Japanese style, and the Asian style. It merged right there. Then you got you East Coast swag of skin-fades coming in. The difference between the East coast and the West being, Richie feels, that the West coast is where you go to find old-fashioned barbers and the East Coast brought up the various fades because of the hip-hop lifestyle.

Fabian follows up with a question about clippers, in which Richie laughs and asks if he’s going to be paid for naming names. He has a tattoo of the Andis Masters on him, and also relates his favoring the Wahl line, from the cheap one he started with to the more advanced like. With the Andis Master being his clear favorite, Richie also explains that he favors the Andis T-Liner.

As for cuts, Kevin asks what Richie enjoys the most. He answers, “My favorite haircuts are taper and scissor cuts. Taper on the sides. I like an old-fashioned gentleman’s haircut. I think it works out for all my business clients. You guys do that. It makes the cut real awesome. It should be good for movies, like a little nice taper.”

Finally, Champ and the others thank him for his hospitality and the last question comes down to his plans for the future. Richie answers, “I made it to this part of the pole, but I don’t think I’ve made it to the top of the pole just yet. You know what Biggie says, “Sky’s the limit, man”. I’m going to keep rolling to the top. I promise myself that I won’t fall, that I’ll keep doing my best. The key is to make people smile.” He expresses his gratitude towards being able to travel all over, from Japan to Columbia due to social media and hard work. His parting advice? “Education is the biggest thing. Open a school if you can. Make more barbershops.” When I tell him that I am just starting out, he tells me, “Socialize. Go hang out with barbers, with them, with us. You’re going to network. I go to London, to Thailand, Japan, and I meet all of these barbers and you scratch backs and get your backs scratched in return. We all learn from one another.”

From rags to Filthy Rich, Richie is an inspiration to all those who are getting started or are climbing the pole right alongside him. Hard work, gratitude and a promise to himself not to fall – we are all sure to see Richie reach the top of that pole and look ballin’ doing it.

To keep up with Richie’s pole climbing progress and what else he has in the works you can go to his and his crew’s site at: http://filthyrichbarbershop.com. You can also follow them on Twitter @richthebarber, or on Instagram at @filthyrichbarbershop. You won’t want to miss what this design King is up to!

If you enjoyed this interview, please be sure to subscribe to see more interviews, tutorials and content! For more information, you can email me at: info@larrythebarberman.com. I’d also like to invite you to follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman for other free barbering content. You can also email me at info@larrythebarberman.com

 

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