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Barber Chris Foster’s, 11 Step Guide, To Creating An Exceptional BBA Signature Shave

11 Steps for creating an exceptional BBA signature shave

 

The introduction of a signature shave can really elevate your barbershop to the next level. You get to show off your skills whilst also introducing products and techniques a cut above the rest.

Chis Foster from the British Barber Academy (BBA) met me at Chris & Sons in London to demonstrate their signature shave, and how you can use BBA products to retail and to elevate your own service. Here’s what Chris had to say:

“The only reason a guy would come to a barbershop is for the experience. You can add on additional services – and the signature shave is not your regular shave, so you can charge more and increase your barbershop revenue.”

Sound good? Let’s get started.

 

Step 1: Prepare the skin

Chris starts off by priming the skin with the BBA facewash. Use plenty of water; this is the first hydration the skin will get. A great technique is to use the ‘prayer pose’: start with your hands together at the chin, then move down the cheeks and up over the nose.

 

Step 2: Exfoliate

After priming the beard area, you need to exfoliate the top half of the face. What’s great about the BBA shave is that you can use exactly the same product – the BBA facewash – just apply less water. The rice particles help this multifunctional product give a good scrub.

 

Step 3: Add more moisture

You’ll notice that hydration is a key theme here: it’s vital for getting the shave right. BBA shave oil can be massaged into the skin, using luxurious prickly pear oil to give the skin a real treat. A great oil to use if you want to avoid clogging the razor.

 

Step 4: Mark the lines

An optional step – BBA shave butter is a non-lathering product that can be used to mark the lines you’ll be cutting effectively before you start cutting. Encourage clients to use this at home, either as a shaving cream or a priming product. It also traps moisture on the skin.

 

Step 5: Raise the heat

A hot towel is an essential part of any luxurious shave. Make sure your client is comfortable with the towel’s heat, then fold it inwards and wrap round the chin and forehead. This puts maximum heat and hydration into the most difficult area. You can use this opportunity to prep.

Quick tip – you can leave the towel over the top of the face during the rest of the shave

 

Step 6: Apply the shaving cream

The BBA shaving cream is a great product for your clients to take home, as it promotes great shaving habits. The lid can be used as a shaving bowl, encouraging use of a proper shaving brush that will retain heat. It also contains the powerful antioxidant known as dragon’s blood.

 

Step 7: Get shaving

It’s time to do what barbers do best: cut the hair. Chris recommends feather razors, and offers a few shaving tips: Work with speed and tension. Shave with the grain. You should shave the most difficult area – around the nose – first, as this part can make the client tense.

 

Step 8: Add more hydration

Don’t be stingy – you can apply more shaving cream as you go to make sure the skin stays hydrated. Remember to use both forehand and backhand strokes as necessary, pulling the skin tight and lifting the cheeks so that you have a nice flat area and can shave downwards.

 

Step 9: The final pass

Go back over the shaved areas at least one more time to make sure you’ve caught every stray hair. Prime the skin again, add a little more water and re-lather. Chris also chooses to change his blade to the pro blade. Simply go back over your work to ensure the smoothest results.

 

Step 10: Cooling face mask

After the shave is finished, that BBA facewash can be used again – this time as a mask. This is a great chance to give a relaxing scalp massage, too. While the mask is on, put a cool towel over the face to calm the skin. Leave for about 45 seconds.

 

Step 11: Soothe the skin

Use the BBA oil to bring a little bit more hydration to the face, then apply the post-shave balm. With dragon’s blood providing anti-inflammatory properties, the BBA balm offers your client’s skin some soothing respite. Once that’s done, you can add the moisturiser.

 

Quick tip: “Moisturisers and balms do not do the same thing. You want to make sure you use a post-shave balm because when you shave you’re taking away a tiny layer of skin.”

 

This is a comprehensive shave that your clients will love – and as you get confident don’t be afraid to add your own flourish! Big thanks to Chris Foster, and to the guys at Chris & Sons, and don’t forget that if you enjoyed this then you can find me at larrythebarberman.com, or as Larry the Barber Man on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for much more.

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Pope The Barber: My After Hours Interview At The Vatican Barbers With Hers Truly…

Take one look at Pope the Barber and you’ll be able to see that she’s a person who lives true to herself: from the striking haircut to the intricate network of tattoos, Pope makes an immediate impact. Interviewing her for this show, I found her to be down to earth and full of wisdom – making her the perfect person for up and coming barbers to learn from.

 

Of course, the alias Pope and the fact that she’s named her barbershop the Vatican are also pretty good sign that this is a barber who’s happy to think outside the box. I tell Pope that walking into the shop for the first time is a little awestriking… Instagram just doesn’t do it justice:

 

“It is an awesome space, but that’s what I that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to make it you know look cooler on Instagram. I want it to lure people in and I want people to believe it.

 

I’ve had this space for two years and we’ve been up and running for about a year and a half, but I have a vision of what I want to do. I love this place, you know, it’s been dear, but it’s time for an expansion.”

 

Here are the highlights from our interview – watch the full video to hear Pope’s thoughts on everything from education to finding her barbering niche.

 

 

 

So how does a trailblazer like Pope get started in the barbering industry?

 

“I was gonna go play basketball, but I got into a car accident. You know how that goes. But I mean, it was it was all meant to happen really. From that accident I actually couldn’t walk for about a year, and I was going to school for aeronautical engineering. I loved doing hair, obviously I had a passion for it, but I thought it was more of a hobby.

 

“You know, I never thought that barbering was really a thing for me, and I started out as a hair stylist. Yeah, I went to cosmetology school in crutches and I mean it was the scariest thing. I said to my parents, I’m not a mathematician you know I would love to cut hair.”

 

 

 

You’ve got a knack for every part of barbering, including build a business. Tell me about how Pope the Barber came about a brand.

 

“Like I said everything happens for a reason, you know: right place, right time. I’ve always just been a people person, you know, and networking’s just kind of my jam. I mean, I’ve been a barber straight out of high school – that’s all I really know – but I always wanted to do something on the side, and it wasn’t because I was bored of hair. It was just there was no job title that really fit what I wanted. You know, I wanted to travel. I wanted to do everything.

 

“And that’s what a brand is: you can you can have everything you like, do whatever the hell you want and that’s your brand. How it really started is that I was barbering but I was also hosting clubs and doing tattoo modelling and all that. I wanted people to know me for barbering, you know, so I actually took a job opportunity and Montreal and I went out there and just focused on my brand I heard it was negative 40 over there and I was like perfect don’t need to go outside. Seriously. It was like that. I just knew what I wanted.”

 

 

 

 

 

What is your barbering speciality?

 

“I love it all, you know, I’d like to say I’m one thing, but I just love cutting hair. And I can’t say I’m the best: I’m not the best. I have a lot of things that I enjoy doing and I love learning new things.

 

I do love doing a gentleman’s cut with a nice clean taper. I love that, that’s kind of my favourite. Then I love doing flat tops, anything crazy. I love doing design. But my favourite for sure is a nice clean taper with something funky in the back.

 

 

 

Your body is covered in tattoos – where did it all start? And did you have any deliberation getting the tattoo running down your cheek?

 

“I always knew I wanted tattoos, and my first tattoo was on my side. It says ‘All that I am I owe to my mother’. And she was mad, but you know secretly she was proud. A lot of my tattoos are to ward off demons or they’re a kind of spiritual protection.

 

“[I hesitated] for a moment. But I knew what I wanted. I was just praying to God that it would look good. It’s funny, like every visible piece that you can’t hide my tattoo artists and I would like take a moment of silence and dedicate my life to the arts. But this was like the ultimate: my face, you can’t hide that – it’s a bold piece.”

 

A final personal question – Joanie is in a lot of your pictures on Instagram. How does she feature in your brand?

 

“She plays a huge part. She gave up a lot to be here and she really wanted to see my dreams come true. I wanted to build an empire for us, that’s my end goal.

 

“She pushes me, you know. I’m completely right brain and she’s completely left brain. So I’m all the way out here and she brings me back to earth. She helps me really achieve my goals.”

 

 

 

Tell me a little bit about the products you have available…

 

“I have a few things out there, but this year is the year of launching. So I have clothes, all handmade clothes coming out. My biggest thing is I have a hair product coming out that I won’t tell you too much about, but that’s one of my biggest projects this year. All the good stuff is coming out within the next few months.”

 

You also offer education – what’s your area of speciality?

 

“Well, my style of education goes back to my roots. I started as a cosmetologist and stylist, and then I moved into barbering. So it’s basically bridging the gap between stylists and barbers, you know, more clipper techniques and for the barbers that I teach courses or techniques so basically just bridging that gap. You know: more clipper techniques, and for the barbers that I teach more scissor techniques.

 

“I definitely know all the troubles that they have. I also know all the tools that they are and aren’t familiar with. But I teach to light a fire under people. Honestly, I love teaching. I like the technical work, but in the end I want people to leave feeling inspired.”

 

 

 

 

 

so some people practicing law of attraction by meditation. Some people do affirmations, some people write out their goals. Some people are just daydreaming.

 

 

 

This interview is going out across the world – where can people expect to see you, what kind of shows have you got in the pipeline?

 

“I have Connecticut Barber Expo, I’m doing something cool in June in Miami – that’s top secret. I’m going to be in Canada working with Monster. I might be in Europe this summer. I’m traveling once or twice a month and it’s all going to be in the States, you know, so I’m going to be in Utah, New York, Texas, Chicago, everywhere here.”

 

And finally – what are your parting words to any barber who wants to excel in the world of barbering?

 

“Hone your skills, you know, and really work on your products. Because in the end, you are a product: for barbers, your product is your skill. So, you’ve got to take classes, never stop educating yourself and never stop being open. Don’t stop learning because that’s what kills a barber or stylist.

 

“Networking is super important – social media is out there. It’s all out there, that’s how I got to travel and all that, from Instagram and Facebook. Just put yourself out there, reach out to people.

 

“And dream big. Everything is possible: dream big. I’m doing workshops, as well, on how to build a barber shop.”

 

 

 

So there you have it: Pope the Barber, in her own words. Don’t forget to watch the full video to hear even more great advice – including how barbers can use mindfulness and meditation to realise their ambitions. You should also head down to Instagram, where you can follow Pope here and myself here. You’ll also find @LarrytheBarberMan on Facebook and YouTube, where I’ll keep you up to date on my latest interviews.

 

 

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Whilst in California recently I took the opportunity to get together with Australia’s Men’s Hairdresser of the Year 2017, Tori Gill. Only 26 years old, Tori is clearly going places – but I think there’s a lot to learn from the journey that brought her to this position. Without further ado, here’s Tori’s story…

“When I was 15 years old I wanted some money, and the only job you can get at that age is to either be an assistant in a salon or to do a paper round. I wasn’t going to do a paper round. I wanted to go to art college, so this was just to get some extra money.

“So, I went up to the salons in Edinburgh, walked into this hairdresser’s and asked them if they needed a girl. And they did, so I started working there. They showed me there is actually a really creative side to hairdressing outside of what’s done in the salon, and I loved it. I thought this is pretty much art. So, I said to my Dad I don’t know what to do. Should I go to art college or do hairdressing? He said to me, you can go to art college whenever you want. It’s harder to do an apprenticeship if you’re older. So why don’t you get your trade and then if you do go to art college, then you can do your friends’ hair to make money.

“I went full time and, because when I was a Saturday girl I used to just watch constantly, I actually qualified really fast. Then men’s hairdressing was actually the last part of my apprenticeship, and because it was the last part like I didn’t enjoy it as much. I just wanted to be on the floor. I wanted to do colouring, I understood colouring a lot because it was similar to doing painting.

“I also loved the avant-garde side of things, and I thought that that was the way I was going to go. One of the girls that I worked with was doing an opening tour for Wella Trend Vision, and she invited me along to help do all the hair pieces and prep the models for the shows. That introduced me to a whole new world and I was like this is what I want to do, I want to do competitions.”

 

This is when Tori decided to take a break from hairdressing, instead heading to Ibiza to spend six months working in the sun with her friends. When she moved back, the cold Edinburgh climate didn’t seem so appealing – and the desire for another change of scenery led her all the way to Australia:

“So, I got my visa, I flew to Sydney and I got a job at a hairdresser’s in Sydney. I had no clue what I was going to do. And then I decided that I wanted to be traveling, so I took off from Sydney and I travelled up the East Coast. After I got to the top of Australia I flew down to Melbourne to meet my friend. The girl that she lived with was a hairdresser, and she’d just left her job. She said why don’t you come to work with me tomorrow and see if you can get my job. I ended up getting her job and then I instantly fell in love with Melbourne.”

Whilst there, Tori also saw a salon that she fell in love with – windows lined with Wella Vision trophies that seemed to be exactly sort of place she’d like to work. “I went in there and I said, Oh, I’m going to work here. I really want to do competitions. And the girl actually laughed at me. She said everyone wants to work here, and kind of rolled her eyes at me.”

One of the best signs that someone is going places is the ability to overcome these types of setback, which is just what Tori did. She decided to travel a little more, ending up back in Edinburgh but knowing that she’d eventually make her return to Australia.

“I said to everyone: ‘I’m here for a year and then I’m moving back to Melbourne. I knew that you could get sponsored being a hairdresser in Australia at the time. So my friends that I used to work with in the salon, they all worked in a barbershop and they said why don’t you come work in the barbers? I said no way, I’m not doing men’s hair. I couldn’t really fade hair… it was just not my thing.

“They said no, no it’s good money, it’s proper chilled. So I said fine, I’ll do it. I remember when I first started and I was trying to do fades. I said to one of the boys, do you think if a client asks for zero I can just give them a one? He said no, you’ll have to do the zero. And I was so scared because I knew what to do with scissors, but clippers were not my strong point.

“I got all my mates in that were boys, and I finally got the hang of it and after like two, three weeks are working there. I loved it and it is so much more chilled – guys are so much easier to like work with than girls. So, I do that for a year and then once a year is done, it’s time for me to move back to Melbourne.”

Back in Melbourne, Tori was able to get started in a barbershop straight away. After just a couple of weeks, though, she set her sites on a bigger prize:

“I picked up a magazine and it said Joey Scandizzo has opened a barbershop. I remembered that was the salon I went in to, that had all the Trend Vision awards. They were hiring, so I called them up and said ‘Oh, hey, I’m from Scotland and I need to be sponsored, do you guys sponsor? The guy said no, we don’t sponsor anyone, you need to be an Australian resident to work here.

“I wasn’t going to let it go. I emailed them, and I said ‘Hey, I’m interested in working for you guys.’ Didn’t mention anything about me being Scottish. So, I had the interview, got the job and said to the guy look I need to be sponsored to work here. He said give us a month and we’ll look into it and see what we can do. And they ended up sponsoring me.

“The reason I wanted to work there is because it was more of like a men’s hairdressing salon than a barber shop. As soon as I started I was like this is what I want to do. I want to compete, I like the creative side of hairdressing, I wanted to hair shows – and I knew that’s what Joey’s salon did. They’re really well known in Australia and they do the big hair shows and fashion awards.”

Tori knew exactly what she wanted from this opportunity, and she asked her new boss if she could shadow him ahead of Australia’s Men’s Hairdresser of the Year. Doing jobs for him and helping with the preparation gave her a chance to see what it would be like to do it for herself.

“Because I’d done all that, he then said the following year that I could do it. I wanted to which is when I decided to enter. That was last year, so that was my first year entering and lucky enough I won it, which was pretty good.”

 

It’s not just pretty good, it’s very impressive to see a British barber moving to Australia and having so much success in such a short space of time. I ask Tori how she would define her style of cutting:

“I don’t do many traditional barbering haircuts. My style is very textured and natural. I like to cut hair dry, so the natural fall of the hair will really help it grow out nicely. It works for a lot of my clients because, they always say that even when they don’t have products in their hair the haircut always still looks good.

“I always say let the hair decide where the part is, like don’t you decide where the part is. It’s the same as doing a fade, don’t you decide how high up you take the fade, let the head shape decide.”

Tori also explained where she gets her barbering inspiration from and, in particular, her inspiration for the Australian Hairdresser of the Year Awards.

“Fashion is a huge inspiration to me. I love fashion, I love styling. I decided I wanted to style them first and then from there and then decide how I wanted the haircuts. A lot of people would do that differently. They’d let a stylist decide what the model should wear. But I wanted to do everything as a whole.”

So where is all of this barbering success going to take Tori next?

“Obviously a lot of people in my situation right now go down the education side. Me, I prefer to do more styling and editorial things. getting more involved with fashion. If I was to do this as a career, then obviously there would be a stylist on the shoot and they would do that side of things, and then you’d work with the stylist.

“When I was younger, the girls I worked with wanted their own salons. And I wanted my hair cut to be on the front of Vogue. From a young age, that’s always what I wanted to do. I never really wanted my own place. It doesn’t really interest me. I think when you have your own shop it can sometimes take you away from the hair. It’s more about managing people, and that’s not what I want to do.

“I just think as long as you’re always moving forward and bettering yourself every day and doing something like even if it’s baby steps towards your ankle and that’s all that matters, and experiences and opportunities will come your way.”

 

Tori is certainly looking to the right inspiration, and she tells me that Kevin Luchmun and Jody Taylor are two of the stylists that she looks up to in particular. With such a vibrant global barbering scene, it’s great to see young talent like Tori looking to some of the more experienced industry names for motivation.

It was also great to speak to somebody with so much enthusiasm for cutting and styling hair: there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be seeing Tori’s work on the cover of Vogue soon enough! I hope this interview helps youngsters interested in barbering think about how they could move forward. For more interviews with other great barbers, don’t forget that you can find me as @LarrytheBarberMan on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

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Interview: With Kevin Luchmum, One of The UK’S Best Men’s Barbers/Hairdressers

It’s impossible to pigeon hole Kevin Luchmun: rather than defining himself as a barber or a hairdresser, or pinning himself down to one particular style, he’s simply ‘someone who loves to cut hair’. His career has seen him working with some of the biggest names in the industry, but now he’s set off on his own. Of course, with the Kevin Luchmun name already synonymous with excellent technical ability, he’s set himself up for success. Still, I wanted to find out what drove him to leave Toni & Guy:

“Yeah, so as you know I left back in February last year. It more or less got to the stage where you start to think about what is it that you want in life. I’d been with the company for 11 years: I was with them for six years in London, where I reached the level to become an international art director. So, I had my dreams and my ambitions within the company, I achieved them and then I just said to myself, do I want to stay and do exactly the same thing? Of course, they could push me in a different direction, but my personal own goals were achieved.

“Then it was just a case to really take that leap of faith and go for it. Because I always think to myself, I don’t want to live thinking ‘what if?’ I’d rather just do it and just see what happens. And we’re here now at Salon International to tell the tale.”

 

Taking that step into the unknown can often be the thing that propels a great career forwards, so it’s exciting to see where Kevin’s new path will take him. At the same time, making a dramatic step in your career is always going to feel unusual for a while. I ask Kevin how life has changed:

“A lot of people ask me: ‘how’s life now, what’s it like, is it good?’ and I just say the best way to describe it is it’s just different. Because now especially, I don’t work for such a massive big corporate company and I’m independent. I have to go out find those opportunities.

“And I think it’s like anything, having been with the company for such a long time you know I gained my experience, I made the mistakes, I learned from the mistakes and got the education. Not just how to educate cutting hair, doing shows, but also the education on how to become a better educator as well. So, it’s good, it’s just different. A lot more challenging, I’d say, and there’s still pressure – probably a bit more pressure – but the pressure comes down to me, which is good because it’s like everything I do now is for myself.”

Going it alone, then, has made Kevin the master of his own destiny – and as much as that can mean extra work, it also seems t be something that he greatly enjoys:

“If I don’t give 110% then that’s on me. If I mess up on something, it’s on me. I don’t have anyone to blame. And I don’t have anyone to just think: ‘oh, don’t worry about that. Someone else is going to worry about that.’ Everything I do now, from bookings, from liaising with clients, from show-work preparation… that all comes down to me.”

 

While Kevin has certainly built up a huge reputation in his own right, it’s still different from the name recognition that comes alongside working with a company like Toni & Guy. With that in mind, I wonder whether people treat him any differently these days:

“I think now it’s probably got its ups and downs. Being an independent name now, all I am representing is myself. Where I’ve liaised, met people along my journey and had the experience of doing shows, seminars and of course competitions, people still respect me in the industry. You know, I’m probably getting more opportunities, and more different opportunities. Like to judge different competitions and work with different brands. There’s a lot of freedom.”

This is the positive side of being independent – but Kevin also acknowledges that there can be downsides:

“Like I said, everything now comes down to me. I’m a one-man band, more or less. So, if I don’t want to wake up in the morning, have a lay in, then I have potentially missed that opportunity to go meet with people or reply to emails, whatever else like that. Everything comes down to me and I have to have to motivate myself.

“If I did need something that I’m sure I could reach out to someone, but I don’t really have anyone to bounce ideas off. And my head’s always going crazy, like a hundred miles per hour and now I don’t have anyone to say hey, I’ve got this really cool idea. I tell myself, but I don’t have anyone to say: ‘yeah that’s a cool idea, or what about doing it this way?’”

 

 

When I caught up with Kevin last year, he’d just been named one of the Men’s Hairdresser of the Year finalists for the 2017 British Hairdressing Awards. This certainly wasn’t the first time that he’d been in that position, but I wondered whether achieving it now, as a lone wolf, gave it special meaning:

“It does actually mean a great deal, because it was the first year that I’ve entered being a solo individual artist working for myself. But I think you know what it means to me this year. It means a lot because it’s all my work: it’s Kevin Luchmun from Kevin Luchmun, it’s not Kevin Luchmun from another brand. I just cut my friends hair and I just want to take a beautiful image – and that’s what I’ve done. And to me it means a lot because this year especially because it’s like yeah, I’m still in the game.”

Based on Kevin’s hairdressing success, I had to ask him how he sees himself: is he a barber or a hairdresser? In reality, Kevin’s love for cutting hair goes beyond these industry divisions:

“I’m neither. I’m just someone that cuts hair. It’s not a case of are we barbers, are we hairdressers… we’re people that just cut hair, who want to make people look good. Hair is hair at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with clippers or scissors. They’re just the tools and the instruments that you use. So do I call myself a hairdresser or a barber? Neither. Do I call myself Kevin Luchmun? Yes I do.”

 

I also wanted to talk to Kevin about education. The drive for more, higher quality education seems to be one of the big things that’s pushing the hair industry at the moment. I asked Kevin to explain why he feels that education has become so important:

“People want to go to shows and seminars, like Salon International because they want to learn. And I think that’s the great thing about our industry is that it is such a creative industry. There’s so many creative minds out there, and so many people that really want to express their creativity within someone’s hair, you know.

“I think education is needed because there’s so much out there that you can learn, you know, why would you want to just carry on doing the same thing. And the thing is I’ve got the experience with barbers and I’ve got the experience of working for such a massive hairdressing company. For me, is about giving back because I remember when I couldn’t do it. I remember when I struggled. I remember when I struggled how to hold a pair of scissors and a comb. I want to give back to the people that actually genuinely do you want to learn. I will give them so much more than that someone who can’t be bothered. And that’s what I love to do, because it’s about inspiring the youth of our industry.”

Of course, simply being an excellent barber or hairdresser isn’t necessarily enough to cut it as an educator, and if you want to branch out into education then there will be more skills to master:

“I know the most talented hairdressers and barbers out there, and they can’t educate. I know the most amazing educators out there and they can’t cut hair. It’s a balance, knowing how to actually combine the two together. It’s not an easy thing. It takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of time and a lot of making mistakes.

“I feel experienced enough that anyone can ask me why I’m doing something and I will be able to tell them exactly why. There’s so many people that say what they’re doing when they educate. I don’t want to know what you’re doing. I want to understand what’s going on in your head, and that’s what makes me different.”

 

Very good advice for any barbers or other hair professionals who do want to make that jump from cutting hair to educating others. I also asked Kevin to share some broader inspiration for barbers who might want to follow in his footsteps on other ways:

“Really understand: what is it you want in life and what is it that you want in your career? Do you want to be on stage and doing these trade shows, in the limelight? If that’s what you want to do, cool. If you want to be better hairdresser and perfect your craft, cool – do that. If you want to make more money, do that. You need to understand what it is that you really want to achieve and then set yourself that goal. And then literally just go for it.

“If you don’t set yourself little goals how are you ever going to progress? That’s what I personally do. I said to myself I wanted to travel to over 10 countries this year when I left Toni & Guy, and I’ve done it. I wanted to become a finalist in the Men’s British Hairdressing Awards – I’ve done it.

“I always say in life, you’ve got take baby steps. If you’ve just started and you want to be on that massive stage, it’s not going to happen. You literally need to take those baby steps and then you’ll be able to get there. But if you have the vision that you want to be up on that big stage, then you’re going to be there. Along the way, stay humble and stay true to yourself. Keep doing what you love and just trying to just be a better person.”

 

Thanks once again to Kevin for sharing these thoughts with me. There’s some strong, practical advice in there that I think all of you barbers and hairdressers at home can really do a lot with, just remember to keep setting those little goals! And for today’s little goal, why not follow Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook? You’ll be able to keep up with all of the latest inspiring videos… You know it makes sense!

 

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Master Barber: Matty Conrad, Of Victory Barbers, Shares The Philosophy Behind His Barbering and Brand Success

After listening in on, one of Matty Conrad’s seminars in California, there was no doubt in my mind that I needed to bring his unique take on barbering to all of you guys. He certainly didn’t disappoint, and I’m delighted to be sharing this fascinating interview.

Those of you already familiar with Matty’s work might be surprised to hear that he started out 22 years ago not as a barber, but as a hair stylist:

“Barbering didn’t feel exciting. It didn’t feel like there was a lot of artistry around barbering, and barbershops were in very steep decline. Into the 90s, it was not this place to aspire to. So, I got involved in hairdressing, everything from Toni & Guy to Bumble & Bumble.

“I eventually worked my way up to working on stage and platforms, technical educating and teaching – and I really enjoyed that, I always did. But it really started to lose that personal level and I started to fall out of love with the industry.”

 

Feeling that it was becoming more about the egos than the hair, Matty was feeling disillusioned and even considering changing job all together. But then something happened that made him reflect on his career – and find a new aspect of hair to get excited about:

“Around then my Grandfather passed away. He was an amazing old guy, he was just a terrific Gent, you know. Always well dressed, always had a part in his hair and a shine on his shoes. I remember thinking to myself where did this go? What happened to the old gentleman, the idea that having a sharp look meant showing respect for the people around you.

“That was a thing that was being lost, I felt. And my Grandfather passing away made me thing a lot about that, and a lot about legacy. About: What is it that you want the world to be like? At that point I started becoming obsessed with this idea of these old classic barbershops, the place where a man like that would have gone to be put together.”

From those initial ideas, Matty found a new purpose: he started investigating classic barbering as much as he could, seeking education from old, traditional barbers while also using his technical knowledge to consider how classic barbering could be developed for the modern world.

“Everybody was laughing at me at the time, because everyone had these Justin Bieber mop-top haircuts and I was doing cuts that looked like they belonged on my Grandad. But I just kept doing them: I thought they were cool, I thought there was something about them that really spoke to me on a deeper level. Something that felt like it had pride and dignity attached to it”.

 

Back to the roots of barbering

Matty may have been going against the grain at the time, but it certainly paid off. In fact, it led him to him going it alone and opening his own barbershop. This was Victory Barbers, opened in 2010 in a small town in Canada, Victoria BC.

He tells me that when he first opened up he thought he might have gone a little crazy, following this obsession with classic barbering so far. But it worked – because it had real integrity: it was authentic to who Matty really is. Now, he owns four shops as well as a thriving brand.

“The word original is just rampant in our industry. Truth be told, none of us invented this – it’s thousands of years old; it goes back long before we were here, and it will be here long after we’re gone. We were just fortunate to be at the right place at the right time, and to have any part in this is an honour.”

No surprise that Matty is also sceptical of the idea, spread by some industry professionals, that barbering is some sort of ‘hot new trend’. That said, he finds a lot to love about the modern barbering community:

“I love the brotherhood and the fellowship that it is right now, the way we’re supporting each other and growing, the fact that there’s pride in our industry again. I really hope that sticks around. I want to do everything I can to support that.”

 

A contemporary twist

One way in which Matty supports contemporary barbering is through the educational work that he’s doing. Aside from teaching his students about the technical and visual work, he also considers the psychology that’s involved in being a barber. I asked him to delve into this a little:

“I talk about establishing a mutual level of respect. Because I believe that any interaction comes out of a place of respect. One of the things that we’re trying to do is not just create a visual appeal for a person, but to make them feel something for a haircut. So my approach has never been purely technical because I don’t think that what we do is purely technical.

“You start to recognise that the technical aspect of what we do is maybe only 50% of why a person comes and sits in our chair. It’s also about how we make them feel, and that’s not just what we say to them, sometimes it’s about how we conduct our service. How we establish that level of respect by how we shake their hand, how we look them in the eye, how we make them feel cared for and confident in the fact that we are confident.”

 

In essence, Matty’s hairdressing philosophy is all about integrity, and he reiterates that it’s important for barbers to have more than technical skill: you also need to have the ability to make the client walk out that barbershop door feeling good and confident about his hair. This means that the design of the shop and the way in which you treat your customer are just as important as how well you cut hair.

He has also worked tirelessly to develop a range of barbering products that modern barbers can use to complement their craft:

“I had a lot of opportunities to do what you would call a white label. So all you need is a logo and a design and you walk in and pick the products that they have then package them up as your own. That is not me, it’s not at all what I wanted to do.

“I had some very strong ideas about what I wanted the products to be specifically. I worked with about different chemists before I found one that I thought understood the direction I wanted to go.”

 

This involves making the product as natural as possible whilst also ensuring that it is entirely cruelty free – no testing on animals – and highly functional. One of his favourite products is Superdry, a dry, matte paste which has been designed to feel light in the hair whilst also making the hair very malleable.

“It is the most perfect product that I’ve ever used. It’s my favourite one for myself and I use it a lot on a lot of different things, for creating texture whilst making it feel like there’s not a lot in the hair.”

Developing these products has allowed Matty to recognise the fact that, as much as he loves classic barbering and the traditional barbershop, it’s also important for barbers to keep developing and innovating: “I wanted my products to not speak about our history and where we were – I want them to support that – but I want them to talk about where we’re going.”

I’ve seen this in Matty’s own work: the cut that he completed when I watched him had natural shine and glow, yet with movement and sculpture. He tells me that it’s all about creating a haircut that a client can then easily style himself when he gets home.

 

Spreading the good word

If you’re curious about Matty’s work, or the products that he’s created, then you should check out some of his videos: he has been producing a lot of content to help barbers who are interested in doing things the Matty Conrad way. This has involved taking part in a project raising money to help send kids to barber school and keep pushing the industry forward, as well as creating what he calls “farm to table” videos, which focus on showing the full story of a haircut from preparation to then creating imagery once the cut is complete. He has also been creating step-by-step instructional videos to help barbers looking to learn new skills.

“I’m happy to share those things. I want to see our whole industry grow together. Being able to share all those little details with people forces you to be creative in the future as well and push your own limitations. It also allows other people to grow in areas where perhaps they need to. Like I said, you can’t just be good at cutting hair any more: you need something else if you really want to succeed.”

This counts for professional barbers as well as beginners. Matty receives a lot of messages from people who want to be where he is, educating others – and he points out that in order to be an educator you need something to teach. It’s not simply about getting up on stage and showing off; you have to be passing something on to others.

 

There’s a lot to digest, and I’m sure that you’ll agree that Matty offers a refreshing approach to what it means to be a barber. Ultimately, his message is that it’s all about making people feel good and creating confidence:

“Because confidence is what people find sexy, not appearance. The appearance of confidence is what we’re attracted to. So if we’re able to leverage both of those things together it will affect your outward appearance. If we’re truly giving that to people, then we’re doing our job as barbers.”

Don’t forget to take a look at the Victory Barbers website to find more about the work that’s they’re doing; you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube as @LarrytheBarberMan. You’ll find more interviews with great barbers from across the world, as well as plenty of educational tips to help you hone your barbering skills.

 

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Jody Taylor: How To Cut It, As a successful Session Hair Stylist

Late last year, I headed to Salon International; whilst there I was happy to meet with the session stylist Jody Taylor. I think it’s fair to say that most of the magazines you see down the newsagents have probably featured Jody’s work at some point – either inside the pages or on the front cover. He found time in his very busy schedule to tell us a little bit about his job.  

I know that a lot of people reading this probably have no real concept of a what a session stylist really does, so I asked Jody to give us a quick summary of his typical day: 

“My day really consists of me working on a location or in a studio – so everyday can be a different day for me. It can be anywhere, and I normally get to the shoot for 8 or 9 o’clock, making sure I’ve got my full kit with me.  

“I’ve got thousands of products I need to take with me: I’ve got two big suitcases full of tongs, straighteners, all types of accessories. So, I’m lugging them around London or in Ubers trying to get to the location. And then I’m creating hair that I don’t now I’m going to be doing until I get there. So, if it’s for a brand it’s to coincide for what the brand is, if it’s for a magazine then they’re trying to create a certain type of character.” 

This means that Jody will be shown a mood board and talked through the concept for a shoot, and then he’ll need to come up with a concept that works. It sounds like hard work, and having thick skin comes with territory as sometimes the first idea will be rejected: 

“My clients now are not just people who are in my chair having their hair cut. They’re brands and magazines, so I have to be on my toes.” 

Getting down to business 

If you’ve never worked on a shoot then you’re probably picturing simply turning up and providing the haircut. It’s actually a whole lot more complicated, and there are a lot of people that Jody has to gel with when he reaches the set. That includes the photographer, with multiple assistants, a stylist with assistants and someone from the brand. Jody points out that “it can be quite intimidating (…) but it can be a lot of fun as well.”  

If you’re wondering whether to follow Jody’s advice, then this next bit might impress you. I asked him to run through a quick list of people he’s worked with and the list is just staggering: 

  • 3 or 4 GQ covers 
  • Vogue magazines around the world 
  • New York Times 
  • Actors during premieres, such as Jack O’Connell 

Despite it all, he remains cool and composed. So, with all this under his belt, I was particularly interested to hear what his biggest achievement to date has been. I’m not surprised by the answer though: taking the title of Best Hairdresser of the Year back in 2010/11.  

“It was the third time I entered that I won, I’d got into the final year before. And at that time that was the one shoot I did each year. Just so much work went into it – understanding what sort of lighting I wanted, what the mood was, what haircuts I wanted to do. 

“It was everything for me back then. So, I encourage anyone that’s considering it to enter it, because it changed my life. It’s a really good way to show your creativity. Do what you think is your style: if people like it they like it and if they don’t so be it, but don’t try and conform to what you see other people are doing.” 

Doing things differently 

Some people would be tempted to call it a career after this much success, but for Jody there’s plenty more still to come. At the moment he’s loving the opportunity to do something a little bit different with his work: 

“There’s a lot of rawness to what I do now. Really kind of anti-perfect hair.  Everyone does perfect hair. Everyone does perfect hair amazingly. So my thing is, make it not perfect – but make it look good at the same time. So really, anti-hairdressing, anti-barbering.”  

I’d say that he’s also something of a visionary, with an ability to tell where the trends are going to be in the next few months or even next year. Apparently, though, it’s more science than magic and Jody’s tip is to look to youth culture, pop culture, music and film to see where the disruptions are happening. Most importantly, he says that you can always try something different: “Some people might think they know everything, and it’s really sad. Because you can always get better”.  

He’s also planning to do things differently in his own career, moving into the educational space. I asked what niche he’ll be carving out: 

“I just really want to share the experience that I’m having now. Maybe I feel confident enough now with what I’m doing to actually share it with people. And I think there’s been a really nice interlink with barbering and hairdressing over the past 3 or 4 years.  

“People used to be very close-minded about one or the other, and barbers want to know how to do hairdressing, hairdressers want to know how to barber and if you’re good at both of them and know how to create looks as well, I think that’s great. So I think I’ve got stuff to bring to the table in that sense. I’ve got stuff that I can share”.  

Tips for the up and coming session stylists 

So, if you want to become a session stylist, what should you do? Here’s a rundown of Jody’s tips: 

  • Contact lots of different hair agencies: you have to create a portfolio of work! Jody points out that he’s always been hired based on the portfolio of work that he has to offer, “so it has to be really varied, but obviously it has to be tasteful as well”.  
  • Push yourself out there. Jody started by knocking on doors, doing loads of different shoots just to make sure he had work to share. 
  • Be prepared to start from the beginning: success in hairdressing doesn’t necessarily translate to success as a session stylist. There’s plenty more to learn, and you need to work hard to build your reputation. 

I’m sure plenty of people reading this will see that last point as a challenge – if so, it would be great to see you rise to meet it! For more tips and informative interviews like this one, don’t forget to find me as @LarrytheBarberMan on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.  

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Nick Arrojo: Our Coffee Break Chat, Sure To Perk Up, Your Hair Styling And Bottom Line…

 

Welcome to this Larry the Barber Man interview with Nick Arrojo! For those of you who aren’t familiar with my work, my name is Larry Campbell and I tour the globe speaking to the best hair stylists from across the industry and from all walks of life, asking them to share their knowledge so that other hair professionals can benefit from the knowledge of more experienced hairdressers and barbers.

While a lot of the work I’ve done has surrounded barbering, I’m really interested in helping people from across the industry better themselves and learn new skills, so I’ll never miss the opportunity to pick the brain of an incredible hairdresser like Nick.

I’m sure the majority of you will already be familiar with Nick’s work, but to fill you in on the key facts this man owns the Arrojo Studio, with several separate salons, and educational school and a product range; he’s also cut hair for A-List celebrity clients including Bryan Adams, Minnie Driver and Victoria Wood and appeared as the resident stylist on What Not to Wear for seven years. Suffice to say, there’s a lot to learn from such a well-accomplished and multi-faceted man.

The Path to Success

Every interview I run has one thing in common, and that’s the origin story: I’m personally fascinated by how hairdressers and barbers get into the industry, and I think that looking at the beginning of a journey can help us learn from it. From starting at the age of 16, Nick’s career quickly took off:

“I started working when I was 16 in Manchester, I worked with Vidal Sassoon. I had a very successful tenure with them and then I moved to London, I worked for Wella and that was where I got to start experiencing a lot of international events and international hairdressers. Then my dream was always to move to New York City, and my dream came true in 1994 when I came to work for Bumble & Bumble, and they sponsored me and brought me to America”.

Not everything has come easy for Nick though, and at one point in his career he found himself homeless. This came in the aftermath of the terrible 9/11 attacks in America: “I lived a block away from the twin towers in 2001 when 9/11 happened. I was renting a couple of chairs inside a school in Soho, I was working for one week and then downtown became a no-go area and I was homeless. I was sleeping on couches at friend’s houses.”

What really struck me, though, is how he managed to turn this around, growing the business he has today:

“I started my salon in 2001 and had a staff of four – two assistants, a receptionist and me. I slowly built it, step by step I was building my brand. Today I have three salons, one in Soho, one in Tribeca and one in Brooklyn. And they’re big salons, so I have a staff of 150 people. I also developed a cosmetology school because I really think that education is the key to success.

In America, you have to get licensed – so you don’t do an apprenticeship, you have to go and get your license before you can even work in a salon. I really wanted to get into that business and affect hairdressing at a grassroots level. And then the final pillar was for me to do products, I’ve helped companies develop products and at a certain point it was time for me to develop my own.”

The Philosophy Behind Big Hairdressing Business

One of the things that made me so keen to bring you an interview with Nick is the fact that he has a lot of great insight into the business behind being a successful salon owner and hairdresser. In my experience, many hairdressers, stylists and barbers that are great at what they do want to open up salons, but many don’t have the business knowledge to take it further. With that in mind, here are Nick’s thoughts on the importance of specialisation:

“When I talk about specialisation I really mean what is your USP – your Unique Selling Point, or your Unique Styling Perspective, and that’s what it should be. Your USP has to change, it shouldn’t stay the same because you’re always in a state of reinvention. I started hairdressing as a specialist in hair cutting when I worked with Vidal Sassoon, the art and craft of cutting hair with a scissor. When I left Vidal Sassoon I decided to change my technique, I evolved and started to cut hair with a razor, so I cut hair with a switchblade and that gives me a different texture and a different feel. Now we have American Wave; we’ve reinvented the perm.

I’m also really focusing on business education – because a lot of salon owners don’t necessarily understand how to make their business a success. Usually the path of a hairdresser is to become busy: one you become a success behind the chair it’s time for you to move onto the next step of the journey. I share my unique perspective, because I started my business in New York from very little, and I’ve grown it into a multimillion dollar business with a lot of employees. I share my trials and tribulations – what I’ve learned.

I’m a firm believer that there’s enough room for everybody to be successful in our industry, but in order to be successful you have to learn from people who have been on the path before you. I’m just trying to accelerate that to everybody so they can learn from it.”

Education is clearly not only a huge part of Nick’s work, but also of his belief system. When I briefly heard him speaking at IBS 2017, the information I heard was important enough to completely transform a hairdresser’s business, and I asked for a little more insight into the philosophy behind it:

“I think that what we’re doing is trying to systemise everything. Once you systemise something you have a path, you have a game plan – and if people follow the game plan they will succeed. The key to being successful is through education, so you have to have education at the front of your mind.

I built my company because I never had any money, and I built my brand on a key catchphrase, which was ‘give unconditionally’. If you can try to help somebody by doing something to help them without getting anything back in return, you actually get a lot back in return. But all my business philosophy is really based on practical knowledge. I always say the best hairdresser starts off as being the best sweeper, the best mirror cleaner, the best shampooer, the best comber – and these basic fundamentals have helped me on my path”.

The Shape of the Industry

Before our brief time was up, I wanted to get some opinions on the key trends of 2017 from somebody at the pinnacle of hairdressing, as well as some ideas about the challenges that hairdressers face right now:

“Texture’s coming back – at the show a few years ago, everyone had feathers in their hair. A few years before that, everyone was buying hair extensions. A few years before that, everyone was making their hair smooth. What’s coming back now is permanent wave, we’re putting curl back into hair and I’m pioneering that. I know it’s working because last year my American Wave service grew by 100%, and this year it has already grown by 50% on last year. And at this show we have had countless hairdressers sign up to get certified in it. We skipped a generation with the perm, and now it’s time not to bring back the perm but to bring back waving, and we call it American Wave.”

“The biggest challenge that all hairdressing salons have is that there used to be a thing called professional product. Professional product doesn’t exist anymore because of the internet and because of the retailer stores that carry supposedly professional lines. I think salon owners have to rethink where the money comes from. The profit in a salon does not come from service, it really comes from retail. And until we start to focus on that properly, we will still have a low profit business.

When you think about a restaurant, the money is not in the food, it’s in the bar. That’s where restaurants make their living. We need to think of the retail area as the bar, and get hairdressers to understand that if they recommend professional products and engage with their customers then they can raise their revenue and profitability.

The truth of the matter is nobody gets into hairdressing to sell shampoo but if you’re not selling shampoo you’re not gonna have a successful salon.” Nick has even introduced a retail course at his academy so that hairdressers can learn how to sell well.

 

There’s a lot of food for thought in Nick’s words, so I’ll leave you to chew them over and think about how you can apply them in your own work. If you’ve found this insightful then it would be great to see you over on YouTube at my Barber.TV channel, or on my Instagram and Facebook pages where you’ll find me as LarrytheBarberMan. I regularly put up new interviews with leading industry professionals like Nick Arrojo, so there are lots of other stories to help you build your own career.

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Barber Eric Pacino – From Desperate Times to Cutting the Stars

For many, “Eric Pacinos” is just another way to say “international celebrity barber.” When Eric is not cutting Nas’ hair at the Cannes Film Festival or trimming up Jay-Z for an album cover shoot in New York, he is promoting his wildly successful line of quality hair products and speaking at hair shows all over the world. He definitely has it goin’ on like no one else in the industry.

So you can imagine how excited I was to get a few minutes with him, one of my biggest goals since I started my interview channel. We met up at Premier Expo in Orlando and Eric did not disappoint. You will want to view the whole interview on my YouTube, larrythebarberman@barbers.tv

Eric: Started with no food in the fridge, young son

Eric’s life story is more inspiring than most, so I asked him to dive right into it.

He said he started cutting his own hair in his childhood bathroom, then graduated to cutting his friends for a small fee. “I was going to school with money in my pocket, and it felt good,” he told me, “not just because of the money but because I was making my friends look good. That was the defining point. Always trying to transform all my friends; more than just a haircut.“

Even joining the Navy couldn’t separate Eric from his calling. “I always found myself cutting hair on the ship, and even when I was going out with my friends, I would say “Before we go, let me cut your hair.” That is when I thought I should go to night school to get my license.”

But post-Navy he was still 500 hours short in his studies and had a young son to care for. The times were desperate. “At that point my son was three, and I had hit rock bottom. I could not find a job, and it was like, ‘Man, my son’s got to eat!’”

“That is when I took barbering seriously,” he continues. “Because I did not want that feeling of being hungry anymore, that feeling of not seeing my child eat. I know what it feels like to know you have nothing in the refrigerator when you open it up. I know what it feels like to use the restroom in your own house and not have toilet paper. I literally would go to McDonald’s and leave with extra napkins. Don’t tell this to McDonald’s, but I did it just to have toilet paper in the house.”

“It was hurtful as a man,” he continues. “ So I think I attribute any success or whatever you call it – I just don’t feel I am as successful as I could possibly become – but I attribute that to desperation and the necessities of living. I never want to go back to that.”

Eric eventually obtained a license and found work. For many, that might be the happy end of the story, but Eric found the fire inside was burning hotter than ever. “I knew I wanted more than just being a barber,” he told me.

Sacrifice and persistence to build barbering success

Before we got into Eric’s accomplishments, I wanted to know more about his trials and tribulations coming up. As usual, he was candid.

“One of the biggest was all different types of sacrifice, from working long hours to having a dream and not having people believe it,” he said.

“Not knowing, not being educated was the biggest trail, having no blueprint,” he recalls. “I had to create ways of figuring things out because we didn’t have social media, there was no book about creating a barber shop and creating a product brand. There was nothing. That was the biggest trial, just not knowing where to start.” This experience, he said, makes him an eager mentor to other young barbers today.

“Thank God, what has helped me is Google. If it weren’t for Google I wouldn’t have done a lot of things. But you have to do your homework; you have to the studying.”

Eric: Every barber can increase sales by offering products…and a variety of brands

All along, Eric kept his entrepreneurial eyes open. “I created my own brand because a lot of the products we were using weren’t really good, they weren’t for the types of haircuts and hairstyles I was creating. I had to combine three or four different products, and I said, ‘Man, if someone would come out with a product that did these three or four things; from the hold to the texture being better, to it not being so diluted.’ I wanted something like a pomade-like matte with no shine finish.”

“I created these products to give my clients the best aids without sending them to a store to buy three or four different products to create that hairstyle.”

Eric strongly believes every shop should sell product. “I can’t emphasize enough: it is one of the easiest sells! It will increase your sales dramatically,” he told me.

He added: “Once a client’s hair looks good, the first thing they will ask is, ‘What is that you put in my hair?’ If you have it on your shelf, if it is already there, they are going to leave with that. They are going to try to emulate the same style that you just did.”

Providing better customer service and increasing your sales – a no-brainer!

“And a month later they will be back for another haircut and more product. Some of these products cost as much as a haircut – our product is $16. You are selling another haircut by selling product.”

He recommends everyone step up and negotiate with product sales people, varying brands and asking for wholesale prices. “Diversify,” he said. “It’s like when you walk into a sneaker store you don’t just see just Nikes. Give your client something to choose from. They might just ask you, ‘What is this?’ They might want to try it out ‘Will this work in my hair?’ ‘Sit down let’s try it.’ ‘Oh, yeah! I want this!” It is that easy.”

Eric has realized enormous success with his high-quality products.

“Right now we have three men’s hair grooming products. One is the matte finish, which is a great hold but has no shine to it, which a lot of people like with the pomade haircuts.

“We have pomade that is a more flexible hold. That one does give some shine. Then we have a crème; a cream styling wax that is in between the pomade and the matte and it does have a semi-shine finish.”

We also have a beard oil. We have a beard and face scrub. We have razor bump soother. We got a shampoo and conditioner and a black mask. It is really popular can’t hold it in stock! Matte finish (is number one), then black mask and the pomade is number three.”

Customer service: No phone calls, please!

When Eric talks about customer service, he says he focuses on the person in the shop and in the chair. That’s why he doesn’t accept phone calls on the job and prefers online haircut appointments. His favorite app is the grooming-industry-only software booksy.

“I am very old school, and I like to speak to my clients,” he said. “But I’ve learned I would rather speak to my clients in the chair rather than on the phone, because (on the phone) it’s never ‘Can I get a haircut?’ It’s about, ‘So what are you doing this weekend?’ It is hard to tell somebody ‘Hey, I will talk to you when you’re here.’ So the client doesn’t know better if you are in the middle of a haircut or something. So you have to respect people’s time.”

Advice from a successful barber: Write it down, learn the craft, fix your weaknesses

Time was running short with Eric, and I wanted to get his advice for young barbers just finding their legs. From a man who came from ‘borrowing’ McDonald’s napkins to Cutting Nas and JayZ, this is the kind of advice you should take to heart.

First, very practical: “Write everything down. You will see a long list on my iPhone of things I need to execute. Write it down and do not erase it until it gets done. That is one of the biggest things I have learned.”

“After that do your homework on it, Google it, find out more about it get out there and get it done! Nobody is going to do it for you nobody is going to put in the hours and the work that you are going to put in.

“If you want to be a great barber, do as many cuts as you can do not get intimated by the different textures. That is what happened to me early on and I would mess up some curly haircuts. But I would learn and get better at those haircuts than I was with straight hair. “

Lastly, Eric shares hard-won honesty that will benefit anyone in any profession: “What you are not good at, work extra hard and get better. That is the biggest difference of somebody who continues to grow. That is how you become complete. If you are only good at one thing – if you are only good at a #2 and a skin fade, but you’re not good at shears – you are never going to grow. When somebody needs you at a movie set, or when you’re needed to cut a client who is paying top dollar, or might want to take you on tour with them, but you can’t use the shears, your opportunity was there and it’s gone. It’s gone because you did not want to get better at something you know is your weakness.”

With that, we bid farewell, and I got busy sharing this unique moment with you. Hope you enjoy and find Eric’s words inspiring! ‘Til next time, happy barbering!

 

 

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Barber: Joey Power, Talks Hair Collections & Photo shoots

Joey Power on his new collection, and what it takes to carve out a barbering career

Don’t be fooled by the fact that Joey Power spent many years as a scrap metal dealer – he’s as committed to barbering as anybody I’ve interviewed. In fact, he gave up a good career in order to take a gamble on doing something that he loved: his barbering achievements show that the gamble paid off.

After heading to the London School of Barbering, Joey started in a local barbershop before being taken under the wing of Dale Ted Watkins. Now he’s the head of the show team for BarberBarber, a barbering educator and a member of the Young Feds team, all alongside shooting his own collection. Clearly this is a man who knows his stuff!

There’s so much to talk about I barely know where to start, but before getting into Joey’s own work I want to know how the wonderful BarberBarber owner Johnny BaBa has contributed to his career:

“Without working here, I don’t think I would have got noticed. He mentors me throughout the industry and he constantly, constantly pushes me to achieve what I’m going out to achieve. Johnny gives me a kick up my arse massively in the right direction”.

His other mentor, of course, has been Dale Ted Watkins. Dale also helped Joey put together his ground-breaking Temporal Shift collection, and it was fascinating to hear more about that process too:

“Dale was a massive part of that collection. I’ve never done a photo shoot before – I’ve been on shoot with Dale but only to assist. So now I’m art directing my own shoot I needed that backing from Dale.”

This meant getting involved with everything from directing to making suggestions for the hair itself, and Joey tells me that he stopped him from feeling like a “fish out of water”. It’s very clear, though, that Joey was the driving force behind Temporal Shift, and his creativity breaks through every shot – so let’s hear more about his inspiration, and the work itself.

 

The Collection

“I wanted to mix heritage and the now. Temporal Shift is a movement through the past, bringing it into the present. I wanted to mix traditional suits with a bright pattern. Colourful, yet classic and timeless. Hair wise, I wanted it to be very edgy but still using the traditional techniques”

This allowed Joey to put his own twist on timeless classics, a bold move… but clearly one that payed off. Putting the collection together meant working with a range of different team members, from Andrew Gilbert who took the shots to his makeup artist Gareth Harris and colourist Sophie Dale. Please take the time to look through the collection here, where you’ll also see the credits for everyone involved.

“What we got out of that collection wasn’t just photos. It was the whole shebang: that’s what I wanted to do on my first collection. And what was good about doing that collection was that it’s shown me something that I’m really interested in outside of the barbershop.

“It’s opened my eyes to so many different things, actually realising what goes on behind a collection. And looking out of the box for inspiration – you’re always looking for different ideas, different ways that you can show your creativity. It’s given me a nice little look into the fashion world as well.”

Following on from this discussion of Temporal Shift I was curious to know more about Joey’s general concept of hair, and what he thinks is important when doing a cut:

“First and foremost, it has to be suitable for the client. End of. There is no point putting a mod haircut on a rocker. I like to work with long hair. I’ve kind of found a little niche. I really like the dirty, distressed lengths.

“You’ll see in my collection, there was a lot of mid length hair and then we did some really cool textured stuff. I like hair that kind of explodes, that’s got a lot of internal shape and structure. For me that’s kind of the nuts and bolts, it’s all internal work, shattering the hair lines and things like that to build character but the shape must come from within.

“It’s given me more hunger to do stuff outside of the barbershop. And it’s shown me that there’s more to hair than the average short back and sides.”

 

Never Do Anything by Half

I was also extremely interested to hear the motivation behind Temporal Shift: why did Joey feel the need to create a collection to this extent?

“My old man told me never do anything by half. And I truly believe that if you’re gonna do something, do something proper. This was important because it was kind of my debut into the industry. I did it primarily to get noticed”.

It was also a great way for Joey to do the haircuts he really loves: many barbers will know that it can be difficult to find clients who want more outlandish cuts! I really believe that this collection is going to blow people’s minds – particularly younger barbers who might feel inspired to create a collection of their own:

“If you’ve got an idea, run with it. Get it down on pen and paper and as soon as you wake up in the morning, think about that idea. And as soon as you go to bed, think about that idea. That’s what built the fire in my belly. If you’ve got a dream you’ve got to think about it day and night. It’s got to be everything and all to you.

“You’ve also got to have a very strong team, and you’ve got to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and everyone on that team has to have that same vision that you have”

This means really selling your idea to the team that you work with, and getting them on board with what you want to do! Joey adds that it’s important to be open-minded, but not to the point where you’re compromising on your vision.

 

Always pushing to the next level

We’ve talked a lot about Temporal Shift but, as I mentioned at the start of this post, he’s done a whole lot more in his time as a barber. One bow on his string is education: Joey is currently training new barbers at the BarberBarber shop.

Finally, we talked about the Young Feds: what does it mean to be part of that team?

“It means so much, because it takes me back to my grassroots. Once I met Dale and Dale took me under his wing, I begged him that wherever he went I wanted to go after him. And I was at Salon International and I was watching the young feds and I was thinking maybe one day if I work hard enough, I might be on stage.”

The chance finally came when Simon Kibler left the team: Joey jumped at the chance to let Adam Sloane know how interested he would be. A little while later, they decided to give him a shot as a fill in for another barber. Clearly his work impressed, as they went on to offer the full-time gig.

“To be a part of that team, it was a dream come true really.”

A truly fascinating barber, and one to watch for the future: believe me when I say that this is just the beginning for Joey Power! I can’t wait to see what he brings us next – in the meantime, you can see what other top barbers are up to by following Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube: I’ll see you there.

 

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STOP!!! Barbershop Diseases, Trichologist Explains All Part. 1

Stop barbershop infections – top tips from trichologist Tracey Walker

No barber wants to see a client receive bad service, and that includes health and hygiene as well as quality cuts. Of course, in the busy environment of a working shop it can be easy to let standards slip. That’s why I invited former hairdresser and trichologist Tracey Walker to share some information and advice that will help you keep your shop safe and clean.

But first thing’s first… what exactly does a trichologist do?

“Trichologists diagnoses and treat hair loss and scalp disorders. We are almost a specialised type of dermatologist, but we only deal with the scalp and hair. We’re not medically qualified, but we are medically trained in the areas where we need to be.”

So, this means that trichologists can help with scalp and hair issues or conditions. Tracey is also part of the Institute of Trichologists, set up by doctors, hairdressers and scientists to help build awareness and offer training. What better person to have in the interview chair?

 

Common conditions to look out for

Tracey kicked things off by telling me about the most common conditions that might affect clients after a visit to the barbershop:

  • Bacterial infections in general, and specifically impetigo. This is highly contagious, and often seen around the mouth or on the upper lip – so particularly relevant when a client comes in for a shave. Look for symptoms that are “almost like a crusting of the skin”.This happens when bacteria in the nose drips down onto the upper lip and becomes pathogenic. It may just look like regular dry skin, and could be passed on by a barber not washing their hands or sanitising tools.
  • Fungal infections. These are particularly common in children, and easy to spread from person to person, either on your tools or on your hands. One common fungal infection is ringworm, which my just look like a patch of dry scaly skin on the scalp and is easily misdiagnosed as flaky skin or dandruff. Tracey points out that it is “easily transferred from person to person on tools such as brushes.
  • Folliculitis. This is particularly common in young black men, as it is caused by the way in which afro hair regrows after a very short haircut. Unlike the other conditions, this isn’t contagious, however it certainly can affect people visiting the barbershop:“We do see it a lot when people have had very short haircuts, or had their heads shaved. What happens there is that when the hair is shaved, and it goes slightly lower than the scalp’s surface, then when it grows is starts to bend up and scratches or tickles the scalp. It’s very itchy, so the client can start scratching and cause secondary infection.”So how could you safeguard against this? “Avoid any scratching, or excess scratching to the scalp. So keep the scalp healthy, use the right shampoo for the scalp type. If the scalp is itchy then there are lotions that can calm it. And if someone comes in suffering from folliculitis and they have quite a short hair cut then encourage people to grow their hair a little longer”.

As always, then, prevention is the best cure! Tracey also points out that the scalp is just like the rest of your skin – so, for instance, if it’s dry then you’ll need to moisturise it.

I decided to follow up by getting Tracey’s take on some specific barbershop scenarios, and she certainly didn’t disappoint. So, without further ado, here is some in depth info to help you keep clients safe in specific situations.

 

Scenario one: A guy with long hair comes into your barbershop for a quick trim. You put the cloak on him and then spray his hair damp. Water starts to drip down the guy’s neck and collect at the collar.

“This may not cause an immediate problem if the person is healthy, but what we have to keep in mind is that somebody’s susceptibility to infection will increase if there are open wounds. So, for example, if somebody has eczema that affects the back of the neck, or psoriasis, then bacterial infection will get into those open wounds, and that’s what we call a secondary infection.”

This could also affect very old or very young clients, or people on medications such as immunosuppressants. Not cleaning the gown could also increase risk.

Tracey recommends: Use a necktie, or work with one use, disposable gowns.

 

Scenario two: A client comes in for a skin fade. You get them settled in the chair and then set to work… down with the brush, up with the clipper, down with the brush, up with the clipper and so on.

Tracey’s first thought is that brushing the hair vigorously is rarely a good thing – it causes so much damage, both to the hair itself and the scalp. “Once the skin is abrased, and the top layer of the skin is taken off, then bacteria and fungus can actually get into the skin, and get down to the deeper layer”. This can cause the types of infection that we discussed before, especially if things aren’t cleaned properly.

Tracey recommends: Proper sanitisation! “It’s alright to have a barbicide jar, but what I’ve seen is that after using a comb people will just put it straight in. That’s no good, you have to clean it first. Putting it in water is not going to remove that oil and dirt. You have to clean it first with a detergent, then rinse it, then put it in the barbicide jar with fresh barbicide”.

 

Scenario three: You’re giving a client a hot towel shave, using a towel that was cleaned in a domestic washing machine and a blade that was used on a previous client. You’re also using a barber brush that was rinsed with hot water.

  • Many of the issues we’ve discussed would apply here – such as bacterial or fungal infections being passed on via the equipment.
  • If the towel has been boil washed then that will offer good protection, but a standard wash cycle won’t sterilise equipment.
  • Water on its own isn’t sufficient. Equipment needs to be washed with detergent and, ideally, sterilised too. You can sterilise the brush by dipping just the bristles in barbicide. It’s also fine to use Milton sterilising fluid, which is commonly used for sterilising baby equipment, especially if you want something slightly gentler.

 

So many useful tips packed into this interview! Mostly, though, it all comes down to keeping things clean – and that means washing your hands properly as well as sterilising tools. Look out for part two of this interview, where I’ll share some more quickfire tips from Tracey, and hopefully give you all the information you need to put the tips you’ve read here into action.

Follow me as Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to make sure you don’t miss what’s sure to be one of the most important interviews of the year.

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