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Interview With Barber Jack Robinson Pullen Of MBA (Mobile Barbering Academy)

I am always looking for new talent to bring to you in my interviews, and Jack Anderson Pullen was an easy choice. At 25 years old, he’s already a 12-year professional and he’s been running the popular Mobile Barbering Academy since he was just 19.

A veteran competitor, he’s a Wahl British Barber of the Year, two-time BBA Master Barber finalist, winner of the 2014 NHF and has many more accolades. He’s also found time to open his own salon in Thirsk in North Yorkshire and has another ready to go in Catterick.

Oh, he is also brand ambassador for SCISSORHANDS, the high-quality professional scissors well-loved among the best barbers.

Other than that, not much happening, right, Jack?

“It can become difficult to manage the schedule,” he agreed when he squeezed in a few moments in the Takara Belmont chair for an interview with me at Barber Connect. “My girlfriend will tell you I am very much a flitter. When I do something, I will do it passionately, but it may be 6 or 7 things at one time. “

Jack has been running full throttle since he was just 13. “I started in a salon in Milton Keynes called One Salon with Graham Horne, a fantastic hairdresser. Over the years I‘ve been fortunate to work with a lot of people you have interviewed,” he told me. “Tony Roberts, Greg Mc Cerlane and a few others. I eventually moved up north to open my first barbershop with my girlfriend in North Yorkshire, called King and Captain.”

Starts Mobile Barbering Academy while still a teen

Jack started the Mobile Barbering Academy at just 19 years old (“with my mom” he says with a laugh) because of his keen appreciation for education and the fact high costs made it out of reach for so many.

“I felt courses were expensive,” he said “ I didn’t have the money at 19 myself, so I wanted to come up with something I could offer people booking these courses to bring them more knowledge, and make additional education accessible to them.”

Working with just his mum, “we’d go to salons and we give out educational materials – a pack of 50 pages. We would do demos and work with individuals on their weaknesses and adding new skills.”

This kind of ambition is bound to grow, and today Jack has a team of 12 at Mobile Barbering, delivering courses in salon shops and colleges all over the country.

His success has given him a possible dilemma many barbers would love to have. “My long-time dream is to be a member of the Wahl artistic team,” he says. “But it would be a conflict of interest right now, and a big decision about whether to pass the Academy onto someone else in order to join the Wahl team, if that were to happen. But right now, I am happy doing what I am doing.”

Not that Jack is hurting for brand deals. He’s been with Scissorhands for three years, an adventure that started oddly: his car was broken into.

“I lost a lot of equipment in the theft, and after I’d saved up to buy a pair of scissors, I started by going to AUK and met Linda from Scissorhands. I bought a set, used them to enter competitions and sent the pictures back to Ashley Howard and Linda to show them what I’d done. They offered me Salon International and a one hour slot, which turned into a day slot, which turned into a weekend slot which turned into becoming an educator for them. It’s all about helping people.”

Why Jack prefers his 50+ Scissorhands scissors to most clippers

As a competitor and platform barber, Jack has made his name with textured, feathered, what he calls ‘soft” cuts. “I love my patterns and skintight work but what separates me is that I started as a hairdresser and moved into barbering. Everything is a lot softer (in hairdressing).

“The strong, sharp square shapes that a lot of people are producing – their work is fantastic. But for me, I like a lot softer, so I like using my scissors more than my clippers.”

I’ve never seen Jack without a belt at his waist holding as many as 50 scissors. Here was my chance to ask about that. He covers the Scissorhands basics.

“There’s the straight blade which can vary in length from 5.5 to 7 inches, and our trademark scissor – called the EVO – which is a texturing, layering scissors with 15 teeth. This makes life easier because you don’t have to go back to do three different jobs by cutting your baseline, point cutting, texturizing. You can do everything in one hit.”

“We talk about a kit, a traditional barber kit, which for us is one short blade which you work inside the knuckle and by point cutting, if you ever need to point cut – with the EVO you don’t really need to do that. “

“The long blade is your scissor-over-comb and your bulk removal and your soft cut, better for softening blend lines.”

“You can work through the whole back and sides of a gent’s haircut using the soft cut: your traditional thinning scissors, your EVO – which is your layering – and your all-in-one, which I call the Swiss army knife of scissors.”

As for the dozens of scissors on his belt, Jack says Scissorhands believes every scissor has a unique job and a unique talent using it, so there custom Scissorhands designs feature many variations, colors and different types of steels.

The Wahl team keeps coming up, and when he talks of the future, Jack says the Wahl dream is still there/ “When I reached the final of the Wahl competition and got up on their stage in front of hundreds of people at Salon International I achieved one of my dreams. It is still burning inside of me to win competitions I’ve got one more dream – to get on the Wahl artist team eventually.

“If you’re passionate, you don’t always come across as you should”

Jack’s intensity earned him an early reputation as a rambunctious sort, which he doesn’t shy away from. “If you are passionate, you don’t always come across the way you should,” he says. “I write for BarberEVO and I spoke to them recently about a piece that was designed to come across hotheaded in order to separate view and make people think about views.”

Luke Dolan wrote article about egos in the industry, and I think he was saying it’s more of a case that people are passionate about things and they don’t believe in each other’s views and sometimes it conflicts.”

That’s true as far as it goes, Jack believes, but he’s also recommending the value of listening and appreciating mentors. “People above you in terms of age and experience, such as Chris Foster, have given me yeas of advice and guidance, even though we are in competition now since he has an academy, too. Mike Taylor is another. I still go to them and look up to them because they have been at it a long time.

It’s clear to me Jack’s passion about making people think is connected to his determination to never stop learning and growing, something that he offers as his top piece of advice for barbers coming up.

“Have an open mind,” He says. “I’ve worked with people who have been cutting hair for forty years and are still open to learning. I know people who have worked for five years for only one person and have closed off their minds.”

“Gary Machin, Eric Lander at the BBA, there are so many great ambassadors with great views and passion so always look to everybody – younger or older – to take experience and knowledge from.

“The most important thing is to be open to learning and never disregard a technique or product or tool. Don’t ever limit yourself.”

To see my entire video interview with Jack, stop by my YouTube channel http://www.barbers.TV

Until next time, Happy Barbering!

 

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Barberian Barbershop Owner & Rockstar Adam Darski Of Behemoth Band Talks Barbering

It has been a crazy five years for Nergal, (Adam Darski) front man for extreme metal band Behemoth. In addition to releasing a tenth studio album, the much-acclaimed The Satanist, in 2014, the hard-rocking performance artist, singer, and guitarist completed successful bone marrow transplant treatments for leukemia, diagnosed in 2011.

The same year The Satanist was released, Adam somehow fell in love with the barbering lifestyle and decided to invest, opening a shop he named Barberian in his native Poland. Today, Barberian shops are thriving at three locations, two in Warsaw and one in Adam’s hometown of Gdansk. Adam tells me a fourth is on its way in Warsaw later this year.

When I was in Poland recently to interview Stefan Batory, the CEO of the crazy popular online booking app BOOKSY, Stefan recommended Adam as an enthusiastic client. I definitely wanted to know more about Adam’s journey, and he was graciously agreed to a meet-up, despite prepping for a Behemoth summer tour of the US with legendary metal band Slayer.

We chatted at one of the Warsaw Barberian shops, a comfortable, eclectic setting of stressed wood and aged brick accented with gently worn, overstuffed leather furniture. Barber and non-barber related antiques add to the atmosphere, and a (very metal) collection of animal skulls and demons masks cover one wall of bare brick, adding just the right touch of animus.

Trim, wearing a black vest, black slacks and black running shoes, bare-armed Adam was relaxed and quite at home in his comfortable shop.

Larry: Adam, as a black guy from London, I don’t get much exposure to Polish rock stars and celebrities, so tell me about your lifestyle outside of barbering before we talk shop.

Adam: Well, the thing is, you’re a black guy from London, and I’m a black metal guy from Warsaw, so we have something in common (laughter).

I am originally a musician, an artist, so labels like ‘rock star’ and ‘celebrity’ are not really in my dictionary. It is OK to give people a picture of where I am coming from. But I am a stage persona and a performer, an entertainer, and this (shop) is basically my child.

The ex-owner, she had this idea to start a barbershop in Warsaw. We started investigating and immediately I fell in love with the whole culture and the way they approach life. It felt very coherent with who I am. I had some money to invest and it was like, this is exactly where I want to channel my energy.

So I came up with the name “Barberian,” which I think is a nice word play.

Larry: The definition of ‘barbarian’ is outside of any one civilization, and outside of the shop, you portray as being in your own dark world, so I think it is “on brand.”

Adam: Yeah, I think there is a nice parallel between Barberian and what I do in my daily life, though this is my daily life as well. So for me, it is all about having different skins or different masks; each one represents different qualities of your personality. Barbers are professionals taking care of men’s health or men’s aesthetic, but it is very artistic, and my spirit is released here more artistically than in a business way.

I am proud of having serious input on the way it looks. The idea came from passion and heart. It is true and you can’t fake this. It is all real, very organic.

Larry: Have you ever visited Shoreditch in London?

Adam: Yes, I went there a couple of months ago and it was amazing! At this corner there was this complex; it was a coffee place and restaurant and in the corner there is a barber shop – don’t know if you know it.

LARRY: Yes, It’s called Sptalfields! It’s got old traditional – looks like a theatre. That’s called Barber Barber.

Adam: Yes, yes, yes! And I approached these guys and one of them went, ‘Are you Nergal? What are you doing here? I’m a big fan!’

Well, I was there because I was interested in the barber shop and the way he was located and the constellation of it. Amazing! So I love this neighborhood. I actually stay at the Ace Hotel every time I go. It is my favorite place there.

Larry: Shoreditch is one of the coolest places in London, and your place has a real Shoreditch feel about it.

Adam: I agree. That is a common vibe that we share.

Larry: Tell me what a client could expect at Barberian.

Adam: There is a relaxed vibe here. There is always rock music, no random radio stuff. The music, the brands of alcohol, it is all coherent, very specified. You enter Barberian and you will be treated as a king!

Bring ladies, your wife – we are not Nazis, not like the whole barber culture you have probably experienced where no woman is allowed – but if you bring your wife, let her sit there, let her have her coffee, or whatever she needs, and let her admire her husband.

Larry: This is getting sexier by the minute!

Adam: (laughs) I remember this couple came and she did all the talking. ‘He needs this, and he needs that,’ and one of us was like, ‘No, lady, calm down! The gentleman knows what he wants. Let him talk. Stay calm, relax, and admire your husband.’

I don’t want to sound chauvinistic, but this is a men’s place, you know? I don’t like to go to a hairdresser, because I get bored. There are spheres, and worlds separated. I think it’s healthy for men to be in a men’s environment, healthy for your brain.

Larry: I noticed you have your own brand of beer.

Adam: I have had Behemoth for 25 years now. We issued five types and it’s Belgian, all craft beers. I’m a fan of the only lager we have, called Phoenix. The beers are issued by a local brewery called Perun.

Any customer gets all this for free. They can chill, have a beer or whisky or really good coffee. I am a big coffee person and this is the best coffee in town! I know it sounds like an advert but I really mean that.

Larry: I’ve spoken to Adam Beek, an important barber at Barber Connect in the UK and he said two things are important in a barber shop; good haircuts and good coffee. If you are lacking either of those then you haven’t got a barbershop.

Adam: Beautiful! Exactly!

Larry: By all accounts Barberian is fully booked. Since you are a brand supporter, I am curious of the role your online system Booksy plays in shop management.

Adam: It makes our work very smooth and much easier, simple as that. We started with the phone calls and walk-in and it was growing, but with Booksy it is very smooth. I wouldn’t go back to the years when we didn’t have that system. I think it’s amazing.

Larry: What kind of problems did you have before online booking?

Adam: It was way more work for us, writing down everything, the receptionist always on the phone. But with Booksy it all happens in the ‘other world,’ basically!

Larry: You recommend it?

Adam (looks into camera): GO FOR IT! (laughs) Seriously, I know the competition, and most of the business is walk-in; they reject systems like Booksy. I respect the old school way, but we wouldn’t do it here, because we use all the tools that are there to make life easier.

Larry: Can you actually cut hair?

Adam: No! But I have a clipper so when I‘m on the road with the band and can’t find a local shop, I need to make sure my beard is trimmed, I like it to look very clean.

Barbering is my business, but also my hobby, my love and my life. I am a huge fan of these guys, but I don’t have ambitions to become a barber. I can do it with my own clipper on me, but that’s about it!

The coolest thing about barbershops is – I visited maybe hundreds of barbershops around the world and I remember each one.

Larry: Yes! There is individual character.

Adam: Exactly! There is individuality and passion and love because barbers are also lovers of barbering; they are there for a reason.

Larry: What advice do you have for other owners who want success?

Adam: Don’t go for success at any cost. If you do what you love and it is just straight from your heart, just perfect it. Eventually success will happen and you will not even notice! You will just be happy and have great clients who appreciate your work.

Try BOOKSY for FREE : http://booksy.info/ltb

my website: http://www.larrythebarberman.com

 

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HELP!!! Two Barbers On A Mission To Raise: Money And Awareness, For Children With Eye Cancer…

Mike Taylor and Alison Scattergood on their very personal fight against a rare disease

 

When I met up with Alison Scattergood at Salon International in October, I was very moved by her story of losing an eye to retinoblastoma – a rare childhood cancer  – before going on to become a pioneering icon in barbering.  I was shocked that this extremely rare disease – there are only 50 cases a year reported in the UK –  had coincidentally affected a great friend of hers and fellow barbering legend Mike Taylor, founder of the British Barbers’ Association.   Mike’s 2-year old daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma earlier this year, and is undergoing treatment.

I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to put both Mike and Alison in the Takara Belmont interview chairs to talk about this sad coincidence, and they told me of a tiny, dedicated charity working to raise awareness of the disease, and of a massive awareness event Alison and Mike are planning for next May’s Barber UK in Birmingham. I was on board right away!

A MAJOR PLEA to Industry Influencers

But first, A MAJOR PLEA to all the INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS:  BARBERS and HAIRDRESSERS are needed to sign up as soon as possible for the Alison and Mike’s Barber UK event at Birmingham!  They need to plan and print promotional materials about who’s coming and they NEED YOUR SUPPORT!  Barber UK has offered them two massive stages, one for barbers and one for hairdressers, so they need artists and stars to help out by appearing. Won’t you do your part, too?   These two industry stalwarts need your support, so contact them and volunteer today!

Ok, on to the details of the story!

“I was diagnosed at 6 weeks and my left eye was removed surgically when I was ten weeks old,” Alison told me. For years she kept the condition private, but as she got to know the people at the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust charity, or CHECT, in London, she decided to be more forthcoming about it.

“I realized the mission is awareness and I could help,” she said.  “My story went massive on Facebook and I got so much response from families, even in America, who had children suffering from the same thing.”

“But I had never known anyone affected by it personally until Mike.”

“My daughter, she is only two, and obviously your world falls apart when you hear the news,” Mike said of daughter Alice’s diagnosis earlier this year. “You never figure it will happen that your child has cancer. Then I found out Alison was an ambassador for CHECT, and she has been so much help to my wife and me.”

“The chances are millions and millions to one that you would get two people who know each other that well, both affected by this incredibly rare disease,” Mike said.

“I was really shocked because we live just miles apart,” Alison recalls. “I was gobsmacked, really. But soon we started talking about getting Mike involved and helping CHECT.”

 

CHECT: a small charity with an important message

Alison calls CHECT a “tiny” charity that is chronically underfunded, though it has been working hard to raise awareness in the UK for 30 years. “The disease is just so rare,” she says. “CHECT can sometimes be overshadowed by bigger causes.”

“And being a guy, you want to do what you can to fix the (cancer) situation, but you can’t fix it,” Mike chimed in. “But one thing I have the power to do is to help CHECT, because it is a very small charity.”

Next May’s event in Birmingham will help raise awareness, which is crucial even among doctors.  The disease easily slips by medical professionals who often have no experience with rare childhood eye cancers.

“Alice was checked quite a few times by doctors and even a specialist and they never even saw it,” Mike told me.  “The eye specialist who found it told me it was the second one he had ever seen in his whole career. Most doctors will never see one in their entire career.”

In fact, Mike said he and his wife as well as nursery workers noticed little Alice squinting regularly, but doctors were not initially concerned.

He recalls:  “We knew it was a massive problem when my wife said, ‘Alice can’t see out of one eye, I am sure of it.’ So we played pirate with her and when we put the patch over the good eye, she started walking into walls. She was blind. And that was when we knew, ‘This is not a squint. Our daughter is blind in one eye.’”

Helping Mike and Alison make the 2018 Barber UK stage shows a SUCCESS!

The pair have arranged for two massive stages at Birmingham NEC during Barber UK on May 20 and 21, 2018, one for barbering and one for hair. The goal is to get as many big-name hairdressers and barbers to come and do shows, attracting good-sized crowds who want to see their work.  “Everyone is welcome,” Mike says. “We want to get as many brands on board to shout from the rooftops about CHECT and this type of cancer.”

The pair plan on-site raffles with brand support, “smaller ones leading up to a big-brand main prize,” Mike says.

“It’s such a fantastic venue, huge place, it’s such an opportunity we’ve been given and we need the help of our friends in the business to make it a big success,” Alison said.

 

They are working out fresh ideas to market the event and promote awareness. One such is asking barbers and hairdressers to wear an eye patch on the job to spark conversation during CHECT week, which coincides with Barber UK 2018.  “We’re open,” Mike says. “Perhaps you can get something started in your town or shop, or contribute a ideas.”

 Retinoblastoma signs and symptoms

So what should parents and doctors be looking for?

“A squint is one of the symptoms,” Alison said. “If you look at a picture with a flash, sometime the pupils will look white. That it is not always retinoblastoma, but that is one of the symptoms.”

“Also in certain light the pupil can look translucent, like a cat’s eye,” she said.

Retinoblastoma symptoms can also include the following, though these symptoms can easily be caused by conditions other than cancer:

  • A different color in each iris (the colored part of the eye)
  • Eyes do not appear to be looking in the same direction
  • Redness or swelling of the eye

“It needs to be caught early,” Alison added, emphasizing the need for awareness. “It has a massive survival rate but if you don’t catch it in time, it can obviously lead to being fatal.”

As for little Alice, Mike says after her diagnosis in March she began chemotherapy, which is finishing up now. “She has a 50-50 chance of keeping her eye, though she has already lost sight in it,” he said.

“What Alison has done with her career is such a good example for Alice and others,” Mike said. “I can tell my daughter this is not the end of the line. She will go on to fulfill her dreams.”

You can help fulfill the dream of a hugely successful Barber UK CHECT event by getting on board early and contacting Alison or Mike today.  Mike is easy to find through miketayloreducation.com and Alison recommends contacting her through East Durham College, where she is a well-known lecturer.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us in the industry to rally round two of our well-known people and support their fantastic cause: raising awareness of childhood eye cancers and promoting early detection.

Let’s make it happen and ‘til next time, happy barbering!

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