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Barber: Rob The Original Shares His Barberbing Story

We often talk about barbering as a craft and an art-form, and that’s never more true that with Rob the Original, a barber who combines his artistic vision with incredible clippering skills to create hair designs that pack a real punch. I’ve been following Rob’s work for a while now and he’s been high on my hit-list of interviewees. Well, we were both at the International Beauty Show in New York last weekend, so I took the opportunity to tear him away from the BaByliss stand and find out his story.

First thing’s first – as with every barber that I speak to, I wanted to know what led Rob into his barbering career in the first place. A huge number of barbers that I speak to found their way into the profession almost by accident, and Rob’s seems to have had a similar experience:

“When I was 16 years old, I first picked up the clippers and started cutting my own hair. My parents didn’t have the money to get our hair cut often, and those very short buzz cuts were in style and I wanted to have one. Later on, when I turned 20 I first got introduced to the barber world. I walked into a barbershop for a haircut and walked out with a job. I was helping out in the shop and I started picking up skills, so I went to barber college and got my license.”

That’s really only the beginning of Rob’s journey, though, as once he started working in the barbershop back in 2006 he discovered that he had a real talent for creating hair designs, creating logos, patterns and just about anything else that his clients could think of. Clients and barbers alike loved to see his work, and when his friend suggested that they started creating YouTube videos showcasing Rob in action he found that there was a huge audience out there interested in watching him create new designs.

From here, he began getting talent spotted by everyone from the owner of BaByliss, who saw Rob’s work and decided that they needed to get him onto their team, to TV producers who invited him to appear on programmes such as the Queen Latifah Show: “I think that a lot of TV producers find me interesting because I do artwork that is random, you don’t see it very often and it catches the attention. That’s why I’ve been shared by a lot of big pages, and my following has grown. The world cup was a big step for me because I was doing artwork on haircuts of the soccer players, so I was doing interviews with people from different countries. I also recently did a last supper haircut, and that one went viral too and gave me a lot of exposure.”

Rob’s creative drive has also seen him move beyond hair, creating artworks with just about any material that comes to hand.  This includes sand art and brush carvings, as well as more unusual mediums such as food and even the dust that builds up on windows. The idea is to show that great art can be created with “basically anything”, since Rob “sees art everywhere”.

The results are always incredible, so it’s no surprise that Rob has had his work picked up by so many different people – including Instagram themselves, who asked to interview him and shared his work. As I mentioned, this has included a relationship with the big-name brand BaByliss, a company that Rob tells me have looked after him every step of the way.

Of course, anything worth doing is worth fighting for, and Rob has at times had to battle his way past people who haven’t necessarily had his best interests at heart. However, he tells me that separating the people who really cared about him from those who wanted to take advantage of his hard work helped propel him forwards, ultimately inspiring him to open his own shop where he could do things the right way.

There’s little within the barbering and styling industry that Rob hasn’t experienced, so I’m sure you’re eager to hear what advice he has to offer. There are two key points here: the first being to “follow your passion”, to find what you love and keep doing it! His second suggestion is to make use of social media, and Instagram in particular, to keep your audience interested: “Using social media helped me very much, you’ve got to stay very active, constantly be posting and make sure that you keep putting out new artwork, new material. People want to see new things.”

Check out the full interview to hear everything that Rob the Original has to say, or head to robtheoriginal.com to see more of his work and get in touch with him if you’re interested in purchasing any of his custom clipper artwork. I’d also love to see you over at my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages, where there are plenty more interviews coming your way in the very near future!

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Instagram Sensation Harry Karolis And Team, Of Ego Barbers Tell Their Story

EGO Barber’s are pulling no punches, calling themselves ‘the next generation of barbering.’  Just a glance at the work they’ve published on Instagram (@egobarbers) reveals they have the skill and the flair to back up such a bold claim. I knew I had to share their story with a wider audience, so today we will dive into their barbering careers and discover the story behind the EGO Barbers brand.

Putting the Team Together

I met up with director Harry Karolis and barbers Tabby, Stell, and Alex at their shop in North London. I always love group interviews; there’s something special about bringing a barbering team together to get the full picture of how they work. But first, I wanted to hear the unique stories that brought them to EGO.

First up is Tabby, who fell into barbering because he wanted to find a decent job that could bring in some money: “I was about 18 when I started – I was at uni studying business property law.  I liked where it was going, but I’d been in the industry for a couple of years by the time I finished and realized I just really like the atmosphere of a barbershop.”  His specialty? “I’m the celebrity barber in here… I’m also very down to earth and a very bubbly character so I can entertain people.”

Next up we have Stell: “I’ve been doing it for about 17 years now. I started with barbering and then moved into women’s hairdressing, found that it wasn’t really for me and moved back into the barbering scene. About four or five years ago I got into education.  That’s a real interest to me and I think that’s where my special touch resides.  I like to embed knowledge and just watch people grow. I think it’s a lot more satisfying”.

Alex started barbering in Cyprus before heading to London and discovering EGO.  According to Harry, “Alex literally told me ‘I am going to work here’ after coming in as a client”.  He came into the shop and blew Harry away with impressive cuts and particularly flawless fades.

Introducing Harry Karolis

Harry Karolis is the man pulling it all together.  Harry’s career has taken him from Daniel Galvin to New York as a session stylist, then back to London as a session stylist and freelance barber in Shoreditch. He tells me about the journey:

“I was taken to Daniel Galvin by my Uncle – my Uncle was a hairdresser from Cyprus – and at the time I was a young man who was up to no good, hadn’t really been doing anything after leaving school, so my Uncle decided to take me to learn a craft. He took me to Daniel Galvin and that’s when it all started for me. I was lucky enough to have one-on-ones with Joshua Galvin. After that, I wanted to further my career and got the opportunity to move to New York as a session stylist.”

Harry was working on film sets and fashion shows – but missing his Mum brought him back to London, where he decided to cross the gap from hairdressing into barbering. He focussed on the traditional values of the trade, going beyond fading and focussing on classic skills and techniques.

“Then I got married about seven years ago, and my wife wanted me to be closer to home, so she suggested I open my own shop. I bought this shop when it was six months old and pretty much started from scratch”.

Introducing EGO Barbers

 

 

EGO Barbers has picked up a huge client base, and I was interested in what keeps clients coming through the door. Harry believes the atmosphere they’ve created attracts people, plus “when they leave the shop, they’re well -groomed.”

The EGO ethos is strong:  “We focus on shape before fade,” Stell told me. “We construct a haircut by looking at the shape first because we feel that’s the most important element. The fade comes in after. We want our client to have a haircut that will last, however long they’re away from us. The fade grows out quickly, so the haircut needs to last”.

Everyone on the team uses the same structure, so clients can relax, knowing they can get the same result from any team member. “We call it the EGO way, and it’s as simple as that.”

Blowing Up Instagram

The @Egobarbers Instagram page blew past the magic number of 200,000 followers recently – despite team members’ initial trepidation about the site. But Harry soon realized how much inspiration Instagram offers barbers everywhere, and after seeing some great barbering videos, he started sharing his clips.

I’ve looked through their Instagram work.  They’ve posted some incredible one-minute clips focussing on stunning angles, all backed by great soundtracks. Although Harry doesn’t speak on camera, you get a real sense of his personality.

Instagram success inspired the team to move into education, “born out of the demand that Harry was getting on social media,” Stell said.  With her educational background, it was natural Tell was involved from the start.  “Harry messaged me after I left the London School of Barbering, and we spoke about what people would want from an education system. “

“We’re focussing on what we do in the shop. It’s very much about shape before fade. We’ve found many barbers are excellent at fading, but when it comes to structuring a haircut from start to finish and bringing all the elements together, there’s a lack of understanding. And vice versa for hairdressers, who are very comfortable with their scissors, but don’t feel comfortable with fades and clippers.

I wanted to know what Kings of Tomorrow would look like from the consumer’s perspective. “We’re going to offer seminars here in EGO, and we want to make sure it’s an intimate setting. We also want to offer going out to people and working with them on a practical level”.

They team is even producing a course-related textbook so barbers take away a reference to help them maintain their skills. Stell says they want people to “leave and think, ‘Wow, that was too cheap. That was more than I thought I was going to get.’”

Taking to the Stage

Harry is not one to seek the spotlight, but since EGO blew up he’s had little choice.  He will make his barber stage debut at the upcoming Irish Barbering Expo. I imagine there’s a lot more of that sort of work coming his way – a crowning achievement for any barber.

Harry has been in the hair industry for 21 years, so who better to ask about today’s state of the barbering industry?  “Everyone wants to be a barber now; it’s a phenomenal craft,” he told me. “The industry has grown so much, and there are a lot of passionate barbers out there.

“Instagram has given us that platform to showcase. It’s an amazing craft and if you want to become a barber, do it. We have fun all day.”

 

 

Stell adds, “If you were a barber, people used to think you were thick.” Now barbers wear the title proudly, and feel the profession has earned recognition it has long deserved.

In my opinion – and the EGO barbers agree – a lot of this is down to education, with barbering catching up with hairdressing in the breadth and depth of training on offer.

With so much experience behind him, I have to find out what Harry sees as his greatest moment.  It’s a good one:  Harry is a huge Tottenham fan, and he got to cut the hair of Tottenham’s manager, Mauricio Pochettino.

“My other great moment is having such great staff; we’re like a family in here. We’re all from Cyprus, so we have banter in Greek as well, and the clients are all such characters. Honestly though, Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, was the big one.

Before I left the guys at EGO, I just had time to get words of advice for barbers still finding their feet:

“Surround yourself with positive people who think alike. Once you surround yourself with positive people just don’t give up, keep believing and never stop learning. Your dreams can come true,” Harry said.

Tabby adds that the more you practice, the better you become, and Alex shares a key example from his career: “I remember a time when I thought I was never going to get fades, ever. I just wanted to give up. But I kept going and it worked”.

For Stell, it’s all about persistence. “Complacency kills off a lot of people. Someone said to me that talent will only ever take you so far, but when you have persistence, you’ll outdo somebody with just talent every time.”

The EGO team gave me so much to take away and I hope it has inspired you, too.  Please do find them on Instagram at @egobarbers, and look out for the Kings of Tomorrow course, as it’s sure to be exceptional.

You will always find new, exciting content from me @LarrytheBarberMan.  There are plenty of interviews just as entertaining as this one. To see my full on-cam interview with the EGO barbers, head to my YouTube channel, Barbers.TV.

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Babyliss 4 Barbers: Educator, Sofie ( StayGold31) Tells Her Story

When I caught up with Sofie Pok  A.k.A  Staygold31 at the International Beauty Show, it was hot off the back of an incredible achievement:  being named BarberCon’s “Best Female Barber of the Year.”  All the more remarkable is this L.A.-based artist won the coveted prize after just seven years working exclusively with men’s hair.

Every barber has to fight to make it to the top, but as a minority within the industry, female barbers find an amplified struggle.  I’ve met many formidable women barbers, each one unique.  Sophie’s tale is a fascinating blend of heart, creativity and hard work.  I am delighted to share more about this delightful person, so let’s get to know Sofie!

Barbering: Something that makes you want to wake up in the morning

Sofie started as a hairdresser in Los Angeles but found the field didn’t generate the excitement and creative sparks she was seeking. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this from both men and women barbers.  I wanted to know more about what motivated her jump from one side of the hair styling industry to the other and how she  felt about the journey.

“I started doing hair about seven years ago, the first year I got into cosmetology,” she says. “Going through that first year was a little bit tough because I couldn’t find that feeling where you’re just excited to get up every day.”

“So, the second year I thought, ‘ before I give it all up, let me try men’s hair and see how that works.’ I jumped into a barbershop, “she said.  Sofie is an incredible presence, an Asian American with magnificent blondish hair and a fantastic scheme of tattoos covering most of her visible skin, many of the inspired by her Cambodian heritage.  Despite the power of her look and personality, she says entering a barber shop “was probably one of the most uncomfortable and intimidating moves I’ve done, working by myself as a female, with all guys who had way more experience.”

But Sofie had found her calling, and went for it hard. “Pretty soon it developed into a passion where it was challenging, it was fast-paced, and it made me want to go to work and keep learning. And my main focus was just to do what I could and try to make it work – because it was fun and I enjoyed it.”

Sofie was soon discovering the creativity for which she is becoming so well known, crafting exceptional haircuts. “You have to!” she said.  “We are the minority of this entire industry in just the barbering world alone, so we’ve got to cut twice as hard. That helped me separate myself from everyone else”.

While reflecting on her barbering roots with me, Sofie was still expressing amazement at her BarberCon achievement.  She says it was a total shock, not least because her only intent in going was to showcase her work.  So how did it feel to be told she’d won a huge barbering prize so suddenly?

“I was completely speechless,” she says with a smile. “To be recognized after all these years of knowing how hard it is first of all to be a barber, but then to be a female which made it extremely difficult in the beginning”.

At my prompting, Sofie shared a theory about why she was selected for the honor, telling me what she puts out is very real, never sugar-coated, and she loves connecting with others who are still coming up, offering advice, inspiration and the energy to keep going.

 

 

 The rise of female barbers

Seeing a woman cutting hair on the barbershop floor used to be rare, but the growth of the industry has gone hand-in-hand with a very welcome rise in diversity, Sofie said.

“Now,  I see growth in a lot of States where women are not afraid anymore. They are coming into this world and trying to hold their own.  It’s starting to change where people aren’t just saying, “Oh, you’re good for a girl.”  No. “You’re good, period.” And that’s what it should be.  It shouldn’t be segregated. “You’re OK for a chick.” But those little things that have pushed me to where I am now; you’ve got to find those moments that drive you even further”.

Sofie is finding ways to help people find that drive, including a YouTube channel of how-to videos: “I think it’s important to show people that you’re not just taking shortcuts and making it look nice,” she said. “I represent BaByliss for barbers, and it’s important for me to show that I’m actually using these tools to do things.”

Sofie’s message is that tools connect you to your work…and bring out your creativity.  “People want to feel like it’s real and attainable,” she said. “I want to break it down and make it easy because I know what it’s like to just be handed a pair of clippers and not really know the specs or what is out there,” she added.  “I break down tool knowledge because it’s important for us to understand why we’re using it so we can do it better.”

Sofie’s Instagram – staygold31- is home to many of these videos and I encourage barbers everywhere to follow her not just for the videos,  but for her inspirational posts and background on the BaByliss products she reps.  Picking up an ambassador role for an excellent product line is a big dream for many barbers, so I asked  how Sofie landed the job:

“A lot of companies are looking for people who can already sell themselves,” she said.” The first four or five years I’ve built my page off of things that I enjoy. You have to find what’s pure to you and that’s how you’re going to build an audience because people want to follow real people.”

She said she was initially skeptical of going into product promotion, but  BaByliss tools are a real part of who she is and what she is doing. “I took the risk and I’m so glad I did,” she smiles.

BaByliss has grown in credibility recently, and it’s great to see barbers embrace another set of tools -after all, the more diversity in your clipper collection, the more opportunities for you to provide different styles. For Sofie, this means getting up on stage and showing what these clippers can do, a role she is clearly good at and enjoys.

The final element to Sofie’s work is building her personal brand, with a range of Stay Gold apron pins for barbers.  You can check these out on Instagram right now and her new website, coming soon.

She’s also focusing on building her photographer chops. “It came with cutting hair,” she told me. “ I used to use an iPhone, but with higher quality photography you can not only put your work out there better but also study your haircuts a little more, see the details.  Overall, you create a better portfolio for yourself, and I think that’s really important as well as your presentation. .”

Sofie stresses a topic in which I believe too many barbers lack awareness: marketing and promotion. “You know you could be a good barber but if you don’t have good presentation, how are you going to get clientele, build business opportunities?” she asks. “People will notice the little details, it separates you, because of the quality that you invest in yourself”.

 

 

Reflecting on the industry

Before I let Sofie get back on stage, I wanted one final insight: her take on the state of the industry today.  I love getting reaction to this question since everyone has a unique insight. With that in mind, and to embrace the positive spirit of the IBS show, I asked Sofie what she loves about the industry:

“How much men’s hair has grown,” she said enthusiastically. “ Because a little while ago men weren’t into their hair as much, but that stigma for men who want to get their eyebrows done, that’s gone.  Now men want to look better and feel better. Men are getting their hair cut 3 or 4 times as much as women now, so the industry is coming up to the same point as female hairdressing.”

That should be a motivating message for every barber!  Hope you enjoyed getting to know another wonderful up-and-comer like Sofie, who bring so much energy and enthusiasm and have inspiring and practical insights to share.  Don’t forget to find her on Instagram as StayGold31.

To get more motivating interviews with the principal industry figures, follow me on Instagram – larrythebarberman- and then head on over to my YouTube channel at barbers.tv.

I’m planning more barber profiles soon. ‘Til then, happy clipping!

 

 

 

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Interview: With Barber Mark Gaye & Founder Of Irish Barber Expo

 

At the ripe age of 23-years-old, most blokes are only beginning to figure out what they want to do with their life. But Mark Gaye is not your average 23-year-old man. He is already a multiple barbershop owner and founder of the Irish Barber Expo.

 

Sure, there are young people who find success early in life and then aren’t capable of dealing with its stressors. However, Mark knows what he’s doing, and he didn’t get to where he is with luck.

 

He did, however, begin his journey in the barber world much like the rest of us – by cutting his own hair. “I got fed up with one of the barbershops not getting exactly what I wanted,” Mark says. At first, Mark saw cutting hair as a hobby, but eventually went on to cut hair in college. Mark did decide to leave Uni once he began making money through his business endeavors.

 

Fast forward to present day, it’s been two years since Mark opened his first shop, and he already owns three salons and is planning on opening two more. Owning that many barbershops would be a lot for anyone, but I’m impressed that Mark has the maturity to run his operation in a way that promotes growth. I know that at 23-years-old, I could not have done the same.

 

When I sat down with Mark in Athlone, I wanted to know what inspired him to name his salon Notorious Barbershop. But when I looked around the shop, I saw iconic photos of Notorious B.I.G., and I knew that Biggie Smalls was a source of inspiration for Mark. However, Mark did not originally plan to name his salon after the late nineties rapper. “I planned on calling it King Cuts,” Mark says. “When I went to go register the name for King Cuts, it was gone to a shop about 45 minutes from here… I was sitting there with Biggie [playing] on my headphones, and I had two weeks to open a shop and no name.”

 

Now, Notorious Barbershop and Mark are flourishing. In fact, the shop offers a 12-week course for aspiring barbers and those looking to improve their skill set. “We started advertising a course, and we got a huge response. The first course sold out within the first two weeks, and that was just word of mouth,” Mark says. They’ve also created a Notorious wet product line. But Mark insists that they don’t want to be seen as “too commercial.” He says that when a client comes in for a cut, they’ll advise them on a product, but they don’t push the product.

I think that says a lot about Mark’s products. When your product is good, you don’t have to oversell it. Your client will want it because they want to go home, and recreate the same look that you were able to achieve in your salon.

 

But Mark has expanded his horizons outside of the barbershop; right now, Mark is gearing up for the Irish Barber Expo on April 30th. The event has become larger than Mark anticipated, but I know that it’ll be a hit. With big names like Rob the Original (who has been on Oprah, so you know he’s a big deal), Lou the Barber, and SharpFade

aka Byrd Mena attending, it’s hard to imagine that the expo won’t be a success. “I didn’t plan on it being this big, but it just took off,” Mark says.

 

Mark decided to create the Irish Barber Expo to bridge a gap in the Irish barber community. He says, “Predominately in Ireland, we have go on a plane and fly over to the UK to see a good show.” But now, Mark wants to help put Ireland on the international stage. More Irish barbers will have the opportunity to learn, network, and compete in barber battles without having to deal with the hassle of traveling too far.

 

I know that I’m excited to see what Mark has in-store for us at the Irish Barber Expo. I’ll leave you on that note, and I hope that this interview taught you a few things about young people acting as pioneers in our industry. I’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to sit down with me for an interview – it was greatly appreciated! I can’t wait to see you at the Irish Barber Expo! I’d also like to thank my readers for following me on my journey. If you’d like to see more of my interviews with professionals in this industry – follow me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Barber: SharpFade Shares His Social Media Success Story

During my time at the International Beauty Show: New York, I had to interview Byrd Mena, better known as Sharp Fade, to get the scoop on his branding and marketing techniques. Byrd has one of the more interesting stories on how he rose to prominence in the industry; he managed an anonymous Instagram account, named – you guessed it – Sharp Fade, and gained a large following. In fact, when I interviewed Byrd in March, he had around 450,000 followers. Now, as I write this blog post in April, he has approximately 479,000 followers. The man doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

 

Eventually, Byrd decided that it was time to go public with his Instagram account. When I asked him about how he came out to the barber industry as Sharp Fade, he laughs and says, “That’s a funny story.”  Byrd tells me that people would invite his Instagram page to events, and he decided to show up even though no one knew who he was. “Slowly, it started to reveal itself who I was,” Byrd says.

 

When Byrd revealed who he was, he had been running his Instagram account for 18 months. When I asked him why he stayed anonymous for so long, he says, “I figure these people would get jealous or envious because I’m young and trying to do something new.” Byrd even admitted that he told a few people about his double life as Sharp Fade, and he received negative feedback that he says kept him from sharing his identity.

 

But ultimately, most people were supportive. “I told my barber around the same time I told everybody else,” Byrd says. “He was like, ‘Wow, bro! How’d you keep it a secret for so long?’”

 

Yet Byrd has extended his influence beyond his catchy Instagram handle. He’s savvy with online marketing so it’s not surprising that Byrd would come up with an event as innovative as online barber battles. “I’d say six years ago, the barber battle started to pop a lot. No one took it to where you could do it online,” Byrd says. “I decided to do it online, so we can battle with people all around the world. Having the chance to battle with someone in London against somebody who’s in New York – made it more fun for the industry.” As Byrd notes, it also gave these people the opportunity to network through social media.

 

But online barber battles were not an overnight success. In the beginning, Byrd only had about 30 barbers sign up for the battles. The numbers began to increase once Byrd stepped away from promoting behind the screen, and met with people face-to-face at events to get the word out about online barber battles. Now, Byrd has to chose specific barbers to participant because around 400 people will sign up.

 

I think that Byrd’s experience with promoting the online barber battles is a great learning lesson for all of us in this industry. Byrd had a forward-thinking idea, but he still needed to outreach to people for the online barber battles to become a success. While it’s always great to promote our work online, sometimes the best way to get people interested is to have that face-to-face interaction.

 

However, I still think that it’s important to build a social media following, but don’t underestimate the networking opportunities at events. Even Byrd says, “Just networking in person is probably the best networking that you can do.”

 

Through Byrd’s networking, he’s been able to work with companies such as Elegance, Red One, JRL, Bevel, and many more. Byrd has been working with Elegance for a few years, and they provide him with different products that he gifts the winner of his online barber battles as a prize.

 

It’s hard to keep up with all of the projects that Byrd has taken on, but he’s also created a Creative and Elite Program for barbers. If barbers join the Creative & Elite Program that Byrd has created, they can get a discount on products from the companies that Byrd has worked with. They also get a certain amount of posts on Sharp Fade’s page, and the location of their barbershop on his website. When I asked Byrd about the Creative and Elite Program, he said, “I wanted to change the whole game, and help these barbers in a unique way.”

 

As successful as Byrd has been with his online marketing techniques, he’s not done growing and expanding his brand yet. Right now, his newest project is an email newsletter – or as Byrd likes to call them, email blasts. He’s been working on the project for a few months, and only has around 250 subscribers. But knowing Byrd, with his determination and network, he’ll have 250,000 subscribers in a few years. I’d bet on it.

 

I’ll leave you on that note, and I hope that this interview helps inspire you to build your network and expand your online presence. I know that it has reminded me to keep working at building a strong network – through social media and in-person opportunities. I’d like to thank Byrd for taking the time to sit down with me for an interview – it was greatly appreciated! I’d also like to thank you, dear reader, for following me on my journey. Without your continued support, I would not be where I am today. If you’d like to see more of my interviews with professionals in this industry – follow me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

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Young Fed, Men’s Hair Dresser: Joe Sloan Speaks Out, About Barbering

When I sat down with Joe Sloan at his shop in Essex, I was interested to learn more about his perspective of the industry. Joe is a third generation barber, so he’s aware of how the industry has changed over a span of decades. His grandad – who he describes as a six foot hero of his – had a shop in Glasgow, Scotland. Joe’s father, Adam Sloan, followed his own father’s footsteps, and opened a few salons in Southend. So it’s safe to say that Joe has barbering in his blood – or at least, he’s been exposed to the industry his entire life. When Joe was 13-years-old, he started working in his dad’s salon; at 29-years-old, that means he has 16 years of barber experience. Now, Joe uses that experience that has been passed down from generations in his own barbershop, The Big Yin. But like most industries, barbershops have had to evolve with the times. “What gives us significance over everyone else is that we’re very forward-thinking,” Joe says. In fact, The Big Yin Gents Division has been allowing clients to make appointments at the shop for years instead of the traditional walk-in system. Only recently, have other barbershops started to allow clients to make appointments ahead of time. Joe says, “When you’re running a business, I need to foresee what we’ve got coming in. And to guarantee longevity for my staff, for their trade – appointments are a necessity.” I also think that a big part of Joe’s success has to do with the people that he surrounds himself with. During our interview, Joe spoke about all of the incredible people that he works with. In his shop, he works with Steve Crocombe, Stephen Potter, Paul Harrison aka “Weird Paul”, and Chris Muskett aka “Granddad” or “Money.” Joe had plenty of kind words about Weird Paul and says, “To work alongside this young man is a breath of fresh air. He’s going to be better than I could ever be.” He also spoke highly of Chris, Joe says, “Without Chris… I wouldn’t be where I am right now.” ​ I find it refreshing that Joe is open about how his business partners, coworkers, and employees contribute to his success. A good barber cannot run a successful barbershop alone; in order for a business to succeed, you need people who are not only talented but also dedicated, reliable workers. With Joe’s educational training courses, he is trying to create and mentor the kind of people that are going to become those hard-working and inventive individuals. Joe and his father, Adam, created the Men’s Hair Dressing Federation with the mission of giving the barber industry the respect and popularity that it has today; Men’s Hairdressing Federation also aims at educating individuals within the barber industry. “This is what’s out here for you, if you want to do that,” Joe says. “It is about education, and uniting people, and inspiring people. We’re educating people correctly. We’re not trying to plug any equipment or brands. We want to give people that fire in their belly.” When Joe is looking for an apprentice, he wants someone who comes with the correct skills already, such as common courtesy and the ability to provide excellent customer service. So that when he begins to train his apprentice, he can teach them more advance skills like how to structure and look after a barbershop. Basically, what Joe and his father have created is an organization that aims to give barbering the credit that women’s hairstyling receives. Before I let Joe go, I had to ask him what he think the industry is lacking. He says, “I think everyone is looking for this pot of gold that ain’t there… It’s about earning your right, and using people correctly on platforms. There’s lot of people doing shows, doing seminars that aren’t quite seasoned enough to be in that environment.” What Joe is trying to say is that he sees a lot of people in the industry that aren’t ready to be leaders or teachers – it’s still relatively early in their career and they’re still learning. I do believe that we’re always still learning, but I can see what he saying. When it comes to social media, Joe has similar thoughts. “You don’t want to shut down someone’s passion. I love that people are passionate about what we do. However, when you’re putting social media out – maybe thinking just a bit more,” Joe says. “We need to be a little bit more real.” While Joe’s opinion might be considered a little controversial, (he even admits that he doesn’t want to offend anyone) it’s always a good idea to only promote individuals or “give barber love” to those that we really believe in. Now, before we go, I do want to say that I enjoyed my interview with Joe, and I want to thank him for his time. His interview was very real, and I know that Joe isn’t the type to put on a facade. If that’s your style, then check out some of his work with Barber Cake on Facebook or Instagram. I also want to thank you, the reader, for following along with this blog post and my journey. If you’d like to see more interview with talented professionals in the industry, come find me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

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