Yearning to bring barbering back into the spotlight, I sit down with Phil Simons of Funk You Barber Shop to talk to him about his aspirations for this tight knit group of professionals. Phil was inspired with the fashion side of barbering and began his career quickly but now 27 years later is hoping to help redefine the teaching and qualifications within the barbering community.
Phil’s father excelled at shave and clipper work but in the 80’s when long hair was in the spotlight he knew he had to come up with his own uniqueness. He worked at salons to learn new techniques and he is now helping redefine the way teaching is done these days. He wants to help kids be more hands on like he was and less focused on online manuals such as YouTube videos. Phil believes that there are incredible credited barbers out there but that many of them are kids rushing through the schooling like he did and everyone is all over the place. He wants to help this community all be on the same page so that barbers are always delivering spectacular work.
I asked Phil how he got to the point where he is today after he started out the way he did. 15 years ago a businessman tried to rip the shop off and skip town so the name “Funk You” came as a reply to him. Now, the shop has proved its success however, it was not always this way. During their own personal recession they were down staff and Phil had to put up his house just to stay open. However his drive, determination and tenacity helped to pull out the other side more successful than before. Currently, they are working on a lot of future projects including guest workshops and traveling for volunteer work to help show how worthy their shop is. They are now being noticed by top shops, barbers, on social media and at The Hair and Beauty Awards.
“Working outside of the box” is what drives Phil to put his company at the top. He prides himself and his staff for staying on their feet when it comes to each particular customer. He is a believer in the perfect haircut the first time for each individual. He has no desire to give someone a cut they see on someone else if he knows it wont suit them. He likes talking to his customers on a personal level to learn about their lifestyle so that whatever they get they can maintain and look good while doing it. Opposite from many businesses he doesn’t want his customers to waste their money. Service is his top priority when it comes down to it at the end of the day.
Speaking of the perfect haircut the first time around, Phil is working on improving the barber guideline. He wants everyone to have the same certifications and knowledge so that the work has a firm baseline.
His mind is on “where can we take this.” He has ambitions for the near future and he has the drive to get them. He wants students now to have the resources that he did not have when he was learning barbering. He wants to help improve the barbering standards and has dreams of opening a college to help individuals get the highest standard of qualifications. That way when these individuals graduate they are already up to par with those already on the floor. Phil has an action plan written up for his college that involves guest barbers, hands on experience and a high standard that is a valuable asset to the barbering community.
Education is playing a big part in improving the barbering qualification standards. When it comes down to his, Phil doesn’t think the standard is high enough and he knows that he can help improve them so that barbering gets higher recognition than it does currently. He knows this can only be for the better and he won’t stop networking and growing as a barber himself to get there.
Thus, if you want to achieve the standards that Phil sets out to write he encourages young hopefuls to go in and intern, get a mentor and learn hands on from someone who has been there. He says step away from the computer screen and go and ask questions, gain knowledge and tips, watch and learn. This is closer than watching YouTube will ever get you.
I can tell from listening to Phil that he has put a hell of a lot of thought into everything he wants to do for education and barbering moving forward into the future.
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