Bringing the best traditions of British barbering into the modern age is no mean feat, but for Joth Davies it’s the foundation of a hugely successful brand. With his high-end barbershop Savills to look after, as well as his Copacetic product line, the Savills Academy and a Wahl ambassadorship, he’s a busy man – so I felt very lucky to grab 30 minutes with him at the 2017 Barber Connect. We start by talking about his beautiful shop:
“It’s always been my vision from very early on. I loved that 1920s era: the architecture, the clothing and especially the haircuts. I was always trying to turn the shops that I had into this vision. I say this a lot, but when I walk out of the shop of an evening and I turn to lock the door I look back and I think yeah, this is what I always wanted.”
It’s easy for barbershop owners to fall into the trap of constantly refitting their shop, eager to keep up with the latest trends. But while this might be a good way to stay contemporary, Joth has proven that it’s completely unnecessary if you decide to go for something classic and timeless.
“The shop we have now is never going to change. It’s just going to get better with age.”
One of the more recent additions to Joth’s roster of achievements is his work as a Wahl ambassador. I asked him to explain how this came about: “I did some work for Wahl a long time ago, and then I was out of hairdressing for a long time with a shoulder industry. Now with Savills, Simon (Shaw – Creative Director of Wahl) really liked what we were doing and invited me to do a few guest spots on their stage. I’ve got a massive admiration for Simon and how he operates. The people he picks aren’t always the obvious people, and we just really get on.
“Recently Simon approached me about a programme that they’re rolling out and asked me if I’d be interested in working on it with them. I jumped on it – partly because I love educating, but also because I jut love Wahl clippers. They were the first pair of clippers I ever owned”.
This led to Joth taking the prestigious title of Principle Educator for Men’s Method in the UK. This puts him at the front of an interesting educational process designed to ensure that barbers are ready to hit the barbershop floor running once they finish their training.
“Wahl have created a package that provides DVDs and books as well as clippers, gowns and posters to help create a barbering section within the college. It teaches nine different haircuts using step-by-step DVDs but also online materials. My job is to train the trainers. I go in and do two days training on the cuts, but also the ideology and the history of Wahl. We also assess the colleges to make sure they’re delivering it properly.”
If you love the work that Joth is doing at Savills, then you’re also sure to enjoy his range of hair products, Copacetic. “It just seemed like the next thing for us to do. I started creating things that I wanted as a barber, accoutrements that could help me in my job. Other barbers were saying that they would want them, so that popularity drove us to mass produce them. Hair products seemed like the natural next thing.
“I was really struggling with what to call them though. But once I worked out how I wanted to market it, and how I wanted them to look it all became really easy. I wanted it to look like something you’ve found at the back of your Grandad’s bathroom cabinet, with a little bit of dust on the top. Then I came across this website devoted to 1920s slang words. A lot of them we use now, like the bee’s knees – slang that was developed in the speakeasy back then. I needed something that hadn’t already been taken by other brands. I found this term, ‘Copacetic’. It means ‘everything’s okay.’”
So what products can you expect from the Copacetic range? They have a fantastic pomade, as well as cream, a matte clay and a paste to suit different client needs. These products help to support those classic hair cuts that Joth specialises in, as well as some of the more contemporary styles. On top of that there are accoutrements such as tool rolls and aprons to add to your barbering kit – all with the same precision to detail and excellent finish.
Before letting Joth slip away, I had to find out just a little bit about the Savills Academy. Joth ‘s very specific approach to barbering has meant that other professionals have been eager to get a piece of his knowledge: “People were asking me to put out a DVD, or a YouTube video, or some training in the shop. So I thought, why not just make an academy? I pinch myself now at how far people are travelling just to spend two or three days in the shop. We have people coming from Australia, New Zealand, all over Europe… it’s crazy.
“People love the fact that it’s done in the shop, alongside the working barbers. But what we teach is nothing ground-breaking! It’s nothing that hasn’t been done for hundreds of years, really. But it is a method that I’ve developed through working with lots of different people over the year. We also do everything on live models.”
It’s always a pleasure to speak to a barber as modest and insightful as Joth is. These core elements of his personality are summed up by the final answer he gives me, when I ask what advice he has for other aspiring master barbers:
“Run! There isn’t an answer for that from me, really, because I never intended any of this to happen. I started with a little three chair barbershop and I was happy with that. And if I was still cutting in their everyday, I’d still be happy. It’s all happened by accident. If I’d tried to do it I just don’t think it ever would have happened the way it did.
“It’s happened organically. Because we, as barbers and hairdressers, are very creative so I’m always taking on more projects. I’d just say you’ve got to love what you do. Because if you’re passionate about it, it will happen organically.”
Don’t forget to follow @LarrytheBarberMan on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to meet more creative professional barbers just like Joth, and hear the stories that brought them to the top.