Educator, product founder, youtuber and motivational speaker – all of this, on top of being a barber, means that Attila is a busy man indeed. But that’s the way he likes it, as I found out when I visited him at his barbershop in North London.
“When I was young, I hung around with the wrong people. I grew up in Tottenham and I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I got arrested numerous times and was in and out of prison at one point.” Atila talks about feeling like a ‘yo-yo’, dropping in and out of employment, but also turning to law-breaking activities. It wasn’t until he discovered barbering that things started to change.
“I tried it, but I didn’t have belief in myself and I started doing the wrong stuff again. I was going up and down, up and down. I thought I have to pick up my clippers again. I picked up my clippers and started my own mobile business: Atila’s Mobile Barbering.
“Eventually I found a shop to work in, but I wasn’t good enough. All I could do was fades. I wanted to learn more about scissors and hairdressing. So, I decided to work and settled for £40 per week. After 3-4 months I got the opportunity to take 50% of each haircut. My passion for barbering started growing.”
Not the smoothest transition into barbering – but it’s this fragile start that makes Atila’s barbering journey all the more compelling. After getting the taste for barbering, he decided to start looking for other opportunities that would help him spread his wings:
“I saw a shop called Smith’s Hair Studio, full of guys like me. I thought I can be myself, not have to hide my identity. I was a free man. I met a great team and we’ve grown as a family. It gave me a chance to get better at my craft while my passion for barbering grew.”
Amongst his peers, Atila is known as an advocate for positive thinking and the laws of attraction. He explains how this came to be such an important part of his life:
“I’ll tell you the truth: I had a nervous breakdown at the age of 23. I got into a lot of debt and I was under a lot of stress. So I started developing and educating myself. I listened to motivational speakers, like Eckhart Tolle and Rhonda Byrne, who I still look up to now. Recently I’ve read The Power of Now, The Secret. I just wanted to feed myself with positivity.
“Every morning I would listen to a motivation speaker, and every evening before I went to bed. This would get me through the day. If I had more negative thoughts throughout the day, then I would listen to more.”
Atila decided that other barbers could benefit from this motivation, especially in the UK where the typical educational talk is more focussed on cutting than on philosophy. He decided to conquer his nerves and become an educator himself.
“The first show I ever went to was Barber Connect. I made a few connections there and then went to a few more shows. I met up with Adam Sloan and MHFed – they liked my positivity and offered me a showcase. I was getting my work out there and I wanted to do it more. I got the opportunity to cut on stage, and then more work started coming my way. In 2017, there wasn’t a single show I missed out on.”
Networking and building strong relationships in this way is a really good option for barbers who simply want to get there name out there. By being authentic and positive when around other barbers, you can quickly become known as a bright voice within the community.
Atila really emphasizes the importance of barbering education and gives a big shout out to Ego Barbers and Stell in particular for continuing to give him exceptional education under the Kings of Tomorrow programme. If you want to hear more about the Ego Barbers team then check out this video from back in 2016. The most important point here is that even barbers who offer their own education need to continue learning from other masters.
In Atila’s own educational programme, he’ll be showing barbers how to make more money behind the chair: offering services and connecting with clients can help you earn more and bring even more clients into the shop. Barbers can also go to Atila to find out more about creating the sharpest cuts.
“I specialise in creating really sharp, clean haircuts. I’m obsessed with it. If I take a picture of a haircut and it’s not quite right then I’ll delete it, go back to the cut and do it again. I’m also able to do a really fast, clean fade. I can fade in 8-10 minutes and then tidy it up afterwards.” By turning to a barber with great skills as well as an understanding of the service side of the industry, you can really start to develop a professional barbering career.
Aside from education, Atila has been busy creating his own product line. “I started by creating a logo, and then wanted to do something with it. I made a few t shirts and hats that I could wear to shows to get my name out there. Then very recently I began to create a whole product line: beard oil, matte clays, pomades, sea salt sprays and cologne. I start with a sample, and if my clients like it then I continue to produce it.”
At the moment, these are only available to barbers in Atila’s own shop. However, there are plans to open up a new website and take products to shows so that other barbers can resell in their own shop: watch this space. He also has an upcoming YouTube series, with plans to release a video every two weeks covering different haircuts and cutting techniques.
As somebody known for their positive energy, I’m interested to know what positive change Atilla would like to see come to the barbering industry. “I see a lot of observers: people just watching and not speaking. I think we should all get together and that way we can make this happen. It’s a competition out here now – we need to start working together instead.”
Atila also champions a fierce work ethic: sleeping just five hours a day, he uses the rest of his time to develop both is technical skills and his mental strength. “The more you develop yourself, the more you’re going to want. Watch motivational speakers and develop yourselves: these are the things that got me to where I am today. I believe the secret to success is getting up early and going to bed late.”
This attitude has certainly brought Attila a long way over the past few years, and I ask him to let us know where it’s going to take him next: “I’ve got a plan to have shops abroad. I want to take my craft to other places and motivate them as well. I might even move away from cutting hair and just become a speaker. My main goal is to speak internationally and inspire barbers all over the world”.
Keep up to speed with the latest developments on Atila’s Instagram account @atilathebarber, and follow @larrythebarberman to make sure you never miss an interview! You can also subscribe to my channel on YouTube or follow me on Facebook for more updates.