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DL Master Barber’s Straight Talking Interview, For The Greater Financial Good Of Young Barbers

Celebrity barber and motivational speaker DL Master Barber is on a mission to make sure that young barbers do the right thing, treat their customers right and ultimately treat their barbershops as what they are: a business. I’m very happy to be amplifying that message for barbers across the world.  

DL hasn’t necessarily had an easy ride to the top: his barbering career saw him earn a lot of money, and then it saw him lose a lot of money. Thanks to this experience, he’s now able to give barbers the jolt of energy that they need to do things differently: 

“When me and my mother came up from Ohio, she had no plan – but she had a purpose, which was to change my life. She just wanted more opportunity for me. Like a lot of us, I graduated from the school of hard knocks. I just wanted something different, to change the financial situation for me and my mother.  

“This made me so passionate about becoming a barber. I didn’t know this passion would move me into a different space and time. Jheri curls came out and barbershops were closing because they weren’t making the transition. And then Hip Hop came along, and the rap artists all had to come to Hollywood and sign their record deals. I was cutting off the Jheri curls and giving them flat tops.  

“So, I end up doing a lot of the New York rappers because they would talk, they’d say there’s this kid who’s nice with the clippers. That catapulted me into meeting more and more rappers. We were having fun, I was cutting hair. I was going to the hotel not knowing who I was cutting because they didn’t have their faces on the album covers.” 

Then ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ started showing music videos and live performances, and everything changed: rappers needed an image to go with their words and beats. DL had already built up the credibility needed to position himself as someone who could help rappers define this style. 

“It changed my life. It changed their life. They needed barbers to create these unique styles for them. Thus, me meeting Tupac Shakur.”  

 

It’s not hard to see, then, how DL was able to create so much success for himself at a very early stage for his career, and it’s hard not to picture him out there living the dream. But it’s not always to cling onto that wealth, especially when you’re young, and barbers can learn as much from the mistakes as from the successes: 

“At the age of 19 I opened up my first shop. At the age of 21 I became a multimillionaire. By the age of 23 I had lost all the money. I didn’t understand how money worked. I knew how to create the money, but I didn’t understand taxes or how to invest the money. I was spending more than I was bringing in. If you don’t know how to deal with your money, you’re gonna lose your money. 60% – 80% of all barbers and hair stylists retire broke, because we don’t understand how money works.” 

The experience of learning this the hard way has made DL determined to give other barbers the education that he missed out on. Helping others in the industry learn how to build their career in the right way has become one of the driving forces in his life. 

“I’m not just speaking it, I’m a living example of it. I want barbers to understand that this is our craft: it’s not just about putting hair on the floor or going to trade shows.” 

As the barbering industry has grown, many more opportunities have opened up. This makes it easier for barbers to network with each other and learn from one and other. But alongside this comes the empty hype, and DL cautions against barbers who turn up at shows or follow their favourite stars on Instagram without actually learning anything. He also warns barbers that trying to copy the work of an inspirational figure isn’t the way to achieve success: you have to be original and find what works for you.  

So how can barbers make this happen? Well, one way is to create standards. “This is what barbers need. Some barbershops have it – a standard of how they do business. You raise your income by raising your value.” Another way is to rectify the mistakes that you’re making. I asked DL to describe the biggest mistake he sees, and explain how it can be fixed: 

“That’s easy. The biggest mistake is education. You have to be educated. You have to be motivated, inspired and empowered to educate yourself. Most barbers want to put hair on the floor but don’t want to educate themselves. Most barbers stay in their neighbourhood, in their shop and think they know everything. If you want to be the best, then you have to educate yourself.” 

And DL is taking a proactive approach in changing this, too – producing content, including books, that barbers can use to educate themselves. These focus on helping barbers create a lifestyle that allows you to save money without struggling. Check out the book, ‘Pocket Game – The Art of Saving Without Saving’ to get all of the secrets. Designed to fit in your back pocket, you can keep this book on hand and get to the wisdom inside when you need it most.  

If you’re not in the mood for reading, then DL also offers mentoring and training sessions where barbers can get. “I did something very different this time: I came up with this idea called the situation room. Wherever I went, I decided to have four barbers come to my room with two problems and came up with a strategic plan to help them overcome these problems. Because a lot of the time, these shows are so big you don’t get the help you really need.  

“I also have a mentoring programme. That’s a six-week course helping people get to their goals. You want to be a platform artist, compete in shows, work with celebrities… that’s what I’ve been doing for twenty+ years. I want to educate, inspire and empower barbers and stylists.” 

 

I’m sure that this video has given you a lot to think about! Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the need to be financially competent as well as good with the clippers to make it as a master barber.  

I think it’s crucial that we bring DL Master Barber to the UK so that British barbers get a chance to learn some of his secrets. I’m going to work hard to help make that happen so that we can get DL on stage, but before that happens, here are the final thoughts that he wants to leave you with: 

“I want you to live your dreams. I want you to stay focused. I want you to believe that you can do what you want to do when you want to do it. There’s an old saying that says ‘if you do what you ought to do, when you ought to do it, then there’ll come a time can do what you want to do when you want to do it.  

“All you’ve got to do is find your ‘it’. And once you find it, what are you going to do with it? Who do you need to bring in to get it? And once you get it, what are you going to do with it? You are a priceless original, so be the best that you can be. And listen to guys like Larry, who are bringing information right into your phone!” 

Follow DL Master Barber on Instagram, and Larry the Barber Man on Instagram or YouTube to get your regular fix of barbering inspo.  

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Times Of Paul Taylor Clinch While At Schorem Barbier Rotterdam 2017

Rotterdam’s Schorem Barbier has become an infamous destination for barbers who want to embrace the crazier side of the industry. I was very interested to speak to the British barber Paul Taylor Clinch to find out how he ended up joining their gang – and what it’s really like to work there.  

“Like a lot of people, I was a huge fan. I followed their work online for about two years: as soon as they started doing videos I was watching them on the way to work to feel inspired through the day. I liked their work ethic: work hard, play hard.  

“One day they posted something in Dutch and I was naturally curious. It was basically saying that they were offering a position. Anyone who has seen their documentary will know that Demon Daan got his job there by writing an email that basically said, ‘I’m the guy you’re looking for.’ I wrote my CV, and thought I’d see if lightning can strike in the same place twice. So, it was a professional CV, but at the end I added ‘I’m the guy you’re looking for.’“ 

It clearly resonated, because almost immediately Schorem were in touch to say that they wanted to fly Paul out for a trial. Nervous but excited, Paul jumped on a flight and left to meet his heroes. Once there he spent the day at the shop watching them operate and waiting for his chance to impress with his cutting skills:  

“When it was my turn to do my two models, Rob and Leen came in. And because it was the end of the day, I had the whole team sat on the waiting bench watching. I kid you not, Rob was just sat in the middle leaning forward and squinting at me. Rob checked one side of my cut and Leen checked the other. Luckily they offered me the job there and then.” 

I doubt that luck had much to do with it. Schorem are committed to finding excellent barbers who can maintain their quality. Part of working their means learning to execute 12 specific cuts: these are the looks that Schorem clients expect to walk away with. 

“I was getting into pomps, but I had no idea how the guys at the shop did it. It’s really nice that we all train together: even though we cut what’s on the posters, and that’s one of the golden rules, everyone has different strengths within that. It’s so amazing that we can keep learning off each other.” 

The guys behind Schorem have managed to create a family atmosphere within their crew, and within the barbering community they’re known almost as much for their hijinks as for their cuts. It didn’t take Paul long to realise what he’d gotten into: 

“My first day I got picked up from the airport and Rob said we’re going to do a photo shoot. I thought okay, probably for the website, like a mugshot. I get there, and Gio is pretty much naked, holding some playing cards to cover himself. So I think, this is going to be a weird photo shoot. Rob says to me, ‘we need you to get naked’. I took my shirt off and he says no – naked.” So barbers who want to join the Schorem team can certainly expect a baptism by fire! 

 

A lot of barbers back home in the UK long to jump on a plane and start working at a shop like Schorem. But is it really that different to the traditional shops that we have here?  

“I think the beauty of it is doing the classic haircuts. In England it started to slow down a bit, people were chopping off the pomps. The classic cuts suit everyone. At the shop now, we only do what’s on our posters. So, I get to do the cuts that I love every day. It’s also amazing to learn while I’m there. Rob especially shares his knowledge so openly and so freely.” 

Aside from the cuts themselves, there’s also something special about the boys that Rob recruits to be on his team. “You have to be a little bit loopy to work there. I love the fact that at Schorem, as opposed to a traditional shop, we face away from the mirror. It reminds people that they’re not just there for a haircut, and it also means that we can all talk together throughout the day.” 

“After we’ve done the last cut of the day, we’ll spend an hour just cleaning up with a beer. We like to chill out at the shop: people will pop in just for a beer and a chat. It’s so much more of a hang out. It’s brilliant because when I’m not in the shop I only hear Dutch speech – I have no idea what’s going on around me!” 

Finding a shop that feels more like a family is a great way to make sure that you’re career in barbering is fulfilling; not everyone can work with the barber at Schorem, but anyone can foster this atmosphere in their own shop. I hope Paul’s account inspires you – for more interesting interviews, don’t forget to follow Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

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A Rare Interview With, Barber Gio (The New Kid), Whilst employed At Schorem Barbershop Rotterdam 2017

One from the archives for you today – I’ve dug this interview out from Barber Connect 2017, when I met with Dutch barber Gio to find out more about the infamous salon Schorem Barbier. Gio was able to give me a first-hand account of life at one of the most interesting barbershops out there, as well as the story of his own career.  

“I started twenty years ago, when I was fifteen. I went into hairdressing because I was always colouring my hair and doing crazy things with it. I always had the thought in my mind that I really wanted to gain a lot of experience.” 

Like a lot of barbers, Gio is able to pinpoint the precise moment that he fell in love with cutting hair and realised that it could be a satisfying career.  

“I loved the job so much after my first experience as an apprentice, with an old woman whose hair I needed to wash. She gave me a good tip and it made me so happy as a 15-year-old guy. I fell in love with that feeling of being given something for your talent. 

“As I turned to hairdressing school, I soon saw that there are a lot of women but not many men in the industry. I had a bit of luck because there was a barber at that school teaching scissor over comb, and then clipper over comb. Then I saw people on TV with the classic pomps, James Dean style: pretty much Gentleman cuts. I loved that. I worked on my skills to do these cuts. The classics always come back.” 

 

These classic gentlemen’s cuts have become the defining aesthetic of Schorem, where the barbers work hard to bring back some of the more traditional cuts. This involves hiring talented professionals to execute 12 specific cuts that are featured on the Schorem posters. It’s a tactic that seems to be working for them, and Gio has been lucky enough to see the shop experience intense growth.  

“It’s unbelievable how much this business has grown. It’s amazing, so many talented people. Everyone adds something different, and I think the experience I’ve had with hairdressing helped me be the barber that I am now.” 

Before joining Schorem, Gio lived and worked in Germany for ten years. He began to feel restless and wanted to return to Holland – but he also wanted to find something that would give him purpose once he got there. “I wanted a good thing, something where I could still learn. To work with someone that I could really look up to. That’s my drive. I thought I’d just send a message and see if there’s a spot at Schorem. I got talking with one of their original crew members and had such a strong, passionate conversation. I applied for a job, wrote a letter to Leen and started emailing every week.” 

It took a few weeks, but ultimately Gio’s persistence paid off and he was able to combine his return to Holland with an exciting new job.  

“History was made for me, and now I’m almost two and a half years at Schorem. Every day is a new day, and every day is a good day. I’ve been there in hectic times, with a waiting line from 30-60 people out the front of the door. Especially in the summer months, it’s crazy.  

“It’s a kind of pressure, but it’s also a nice thing. Right now, two and a half years later, you can see that the barbershop has met the vision of what they wanted. It’s what a barbershop should be, without the hype. 

“They were there at the right time, had a load of luck and did a real good job for everybody. Now everybody gets a piece of the pie and we’re all enjoying it. It’s something that I’m proud to be a part of: I can walk with a smile.” 

 

For some barbers it might be difficult to imagine leaving a shop like Schorem, but for Gio it doesn’t represent the limits of his ambition. “I’m not going to be old in Schorem: this is not my end station. I’ve always been honest about that. I think there will be a time in my life when I want to move on, grow old and look back.” 

Working at Schorem will certainly give Gio a lot to reflect back on once he’s old and grey; in many ways, Schorem is part of a transformative movement in barbering. It’s about a lot more than bringing back classic cuts: it’s about providing a sense of community and celebrating the craft of barbering. 

Want to learn more about Schorem?  Read about their work, their products and their training on the website – or view Bertus and Leen’s channel ‘Project X’ for an educational series featuring 12 of the world’s top barbers. You can also get more tips and tricks from the huge range of barbers featured on my page: just follow Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

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Interview With Barber Joth Davies Of Savills Barbershop Sheffield, At Barber Connect 2017

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.

 

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Kevin Luchmun Interviews, Charlie Cullen Head Of Men’s Education At Toni & Guy

Not one but two fantastic barbering/hairdressing talents for you today: in this interview, the inimitable Kevin Luchmun stepped behind the camera to take on the role of interviewer. In the chair is Toni & Guy International Artistic Director Charlie Cullen, ready to give an insight into his career…

KL: How long have you been hairdressing for and where did the journey start?

CC: I’ve been a hairdresser for almost fifteen years, I started when I was 16. Initially you start your basic hairdressing career: learning women’s haircuts, blow-drying. For me though, it was when I started to learn men’s hairdressing that I realised this was the thing that I wanted to focus on.

KL: Where did the journey start with Toni & Guy and what is your role here?

CC: I started from the bottom like anyone, doing an apprenticeship in a small salon on the outskirts of London – it was a Toni & Guy. It was about a year into working there that I started to go to their academy one day a week to learn more skills. I started off as an assistant, then worked as a stylist in that salon gaining experience.

That was really until I felt that I wanted to work into London, somewhere that would test me and push my career to higher places. I started working in Toni & Guy in Sloane Square, and did some training to become an art director which takes a lot of time and a lot of evening work. Eventually, though, I became an educator: it had always been a dream of mine.

I really had a passion to specialise in men’s hairdressing, and to fly that flag – although I do now teach men’s and women’s hair.

KL: Now you head up the men’s course within the academy and globally, so can you tell us a little bit about these courses and what makes them different?

CC: I think it’s good for the industry that there are a lot of people out there who want to educate, but also that those same people are open to education themselves. It would be naïve to think that what we do is the only thing that’s out there.

I feel that what we do well is our three-day contemporary men’s cutting course – it’s not a barbering course, although we do deliver elements of barbering. It’s about bringing the student in with whatever level of experience and whatever they want to focus on. We’ll tailor the course to the individual and focus on all the principles of men’s hairdressing. When someone wants to learn something in particular, we try our best to deliver that for them.

KL: At the moment there is a fusion of barbering and men’s hairdressing happening. Could you tell us a little bit about the difference between the two, and where you’d say you specialise?

CC: I suppose it really comes down to where you start your career. My foundation is hairdressing: I think that gives me a good understanding of sectioning hair, the importance of it and the real technical aspect of hairdressing. I try to bring that into men’s hairdressing in a simple way: you don’t want to overcomplicate men’s hair.

What we see at the moment is a lot of barbers, especially from outside Europe, who are unbelievable at fading but want to learn classic graduation through fingers, scissor over comb, sectioning, hand position. They don’t necessarily have that in their initial training – not to say that this is the case for all barbers.

At the same time, a lot of British hairdressers want to learn how to skin fade or do tapering techniques. It works well for us to take the best elements from each one so that you deliver a haircut that has the feeling and technique of a barbering cut but also the hairdressing texture.

KL: Why do you enjoy educating? What is it about that side of things that makes you want to get up on stage?

CC: It’s not for everyone, and I don’t think that it’s a bad thing if you don’t decide to educate. Some people go into the management side of things or become a business owner. But I educate for the feeling of being able to take someone and show them a new skill. As hairdressers we work on appreciation, and when someone appreciates a wicked haircut that you’ve done, or you’ve taught a student and you can see their appreciation that’s great.

It’s also given me the chance to travel the world. British barbering is so big at the moment that it’s sort of dominating Europe and starting to travel the rest of the world. I never dreamt as a 16-year-old hairdresser in Uxbridge that I’d be going to do haircuts on stage in South Korea.

KL: Finally, while we’re here at Salon International and there’s a lot of inspiration happening across the show, do you have any top tips or advice to give to young people trying to move towards the stage?

CC: Take the opportunities. There are a lot of companies out there looking for educators, but you’ve also got to be true to yourself. Eventually, if you work hard, you’ll get noticed and you’ll get rewarded. So put that dedication in to be good at your job.

Salon International is a perfect place because you can see lots of platform artists and how they deliver things. That sets the bar. But you do you: I wouldn’t do something that wasn’t my taste or strength. As long as you’re true to yourself, you’re going to get noticed eventually.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to both Kevin Luchmun and Charlie Cullen for sitting down and recording this excellent interview – I’m sure that Charlie’s words will help to inspire many barbers reading this or watching the clip. Don’t forget to follow Larry the Barber Man on all of your favourite social media channels: regular interviews shared to Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to help you perfect your craft.

 

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Atila The Barber Shares, His Inspirational Barbering Story…

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.

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Barber Patty Cuts: Shares His Secrets, How He Achieve The Cuts That He Does, Plus How To Dominate Instagram

 

Patty Cuts is easily recognisable as one of Florida’s most talented rising stars – he boasts over 118k followers on Instagram, a sponsorship deal with BaByliss and several prestigious barbering awards. All of which puts him in a great position to help out other barbers who may be wondering how to start or where to go next.

Turn the clock back just a few years, though, and you’ll find a very different story. “At twelve years old, where I’m from in Philadelphia, everybody likes to look sharp. I didn’t have money to get cut all the time, so I started on my own hair. By the age of 16, 17 I was cutting up the whole neighbourhood.

“The only thing was, I never thought it could be a lifelong career. I thought I had to go to college, but I was not a good student. I had no passion for it, but I got through four years. Then in my fourth year, my Dad died – he committed suicide. My life got completely shaken up, and I went down the road of drugs and alcohol for pretty much the next year. I was miserable. So, I packed up all my stuff and moved to Florida, with a plan to become a lifeguard on the beach. This is about four and a half years ago: I was completely miserable.”

Delivering pizzas and feeling like he’d hit a dead end, it’s easy to see why Patty was starting to lose hope. “I like to tell this story where I made a sharp turn delivering one day and buffalo sauce spilled all over my back seat and that was it. I pulled over to the side of the road and made a decision that the next day I would go and enrol in barber school.”

It’s important to remember that unlike many UK barbers who are able to learn on the job, barbers in America need to be licensed: in Florida, that meant 1200 hours of barber school. “They do a lot of different stuff in barber school – but in the second half you get to cut people’s hair. So, I toughed out the first 600 hours and then got to cut hair on the floor.”

For a full-time learner, this takes around a year to complete, with a written exam at the end. The time commitment is worth it though, because it lets barbers get set up in a proper barbershop: for Patty, the next stop was a shop “right in the middle of the hood”, where he had to very quickly pick up new skills cutting textured hair – undoubtedly something which will have played into his more recent success winning Barbercon 2017’s Best Fades of the Year award!

Aside from cutting phenomenal haircuts, Patty Cuts has built up his brand by growing his social media following at an extraordinarily fast rate. This is an important skill for any hair professional who wants to become respected beyond their local community. “I like to talk about what I did wrong first. On Instagram I expected nice cuts to be enough – I was getting frustrated. That’s because I was doing it wrong. I was taking pictures with my old cell phone, I wanted results without putting in the work.

“Eventually I bought myself a camera. That’s when it all changed. I got a nice portrait lens – it all changed for me. My cuts were the same, but presentation was completely different. As I keep going up, I get better with photography because I study that as well. Kevin Luchmun is one of my inspirations, I’ll ask him questions.

“There’s also a time strategy, and a thought process about what I write in my captions, what hashtags people are searching. So, there’s a lot of strategy and kind of a marketing mind behind posting these pictures.”

Getting to grips with posting professionally allowed Patty to promote a unique style, the X-ray part. He originally shared as part of a competition started by Lee from Barbershop Connect, who asked barbers to have a go at crafting a great new look. “It’s two little slashes, but instead of carving them out, you leave it dark and cut around it. I call it the X-ray Part, because it’s kind of the negative of a picture. It just caught on – people started doing it and tagging me in it. I won Lee’s competition, and that was a good break for my social media.”

Patty also has some exciting educational projects in the works, and plans to work with fellow educator and BaByliss ambassador Sofie to produce a course that’s a little bit different. “We’ve discussed doing a three-part class. The first part would be cutting, and we would go about doing our different cuts – she is phenomenal at fading. The second part would be photography, and how to portray images of your cut in a cool, artistic way. Then the third thing would be videography.”

Being able to learn this trio of skills from such a talented barbering duo would certainly be a great opportunity for any barber who wants to show-off their work more effectively. You’ll also get the opportunity to pick up some of Patty and Sofie’s advice – and in closing, I ask Patty to share his most essential tips:
“Never stop learning. I will still take classes, I’ll still learn how to do something better. Right now I’m working on shear work. So, whether you’re accomplished or up and coming, take a class that comes up. And then secondly, if you’re not getting recognised then you probably need to do something different. Get out and meet people. Build relationships with awesome people!”

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Curtis Smith: Barbering Great & Founder Of Xotics Barber Battle Tour, Talks Barbering

Celebrity barber Curtis Smith joined me at the CT Barber Expo 2018 to share the story of his barbering career. There’s a lot to talk about – aside from Curtis’ work with celebrities like P Diddy and Usher, he also has the Xotics brand to his name – so I decided to dive straight in with some background on how he got into barbering:  

“My entry into barbering started when I was 13 years old. I picked up a pair of clippers because I saw a friend of mine do a haircut and thought it was something I wanted to try. I did a haircut on a friend and he actually liked it. Looking back on that hair cut now it’s hilarious, but we were kids. For him it was a haircut, it looked better than when he sat in the chair. For me it was an accomplishment.”  

Curtis describes a ‘wow’ moment which many barbers are probably familiar with: realising that you can give something of real value using just your hands and a pair of clippers.  

“It gave me the energy to want to become a professional barber. I started experimenting on my friends for a dollar, then I went and got my licence. I realised that I started to like cutting hair more than what I was going to school for. So, I started cutting hair professionally, got my licence and opened my own salon. Once I opened my salon there was no looking back.”  

Opening up his unisex salon Ebonese in the Bronx gave Curtis a chance to start putting his work out there – and as his reputation built, he started attracting in minor celebrities who would eventually connect him with their top-tier contacts. The real breakthrough came when P Diddy saw his work on an associate and decided he wanted a piece of it.  

“He sent his people to find me – they had me experiment on one of his artists first to make sure. I did this guy’s hair and he did a double take! That was my emergence into the celebrity world. After he saw my portfolio he said okay, you’re my barber for the rest of my life. That was 20 years ago. I just stopped working with him because he moved full time to LA, but I still work with Usher, Ludacris, different people like that.  

“I am looking at tapering down that side of my career. It’s a very demanding lifestyle. I’ve just overcome cancer for the second time, I finished chemo three weeks ago – so I have to change some of the things I do and move a little differently.”  

While he was still a part of the celebrity scene, though, Curtis made a real impact with cuts that became influential around the world. This included P Diddy’s famous mohawk – a cut which, if Curtis had his way, might never have happened:  

“He wanted to do something different for the New York Marathon. He said I want people to take me seriously, because nobody knows me as an athlete. Normally people take six months to train for a marathon, he did it in six weeks. He said everyone says I’m crazy, I want a look that shows them I’m dead serious. 

“I took a survey of all the people that worked for him: should he get a mohawk. Overwhelmingly the women said yes, and the guys said no. He said ‘what do you think we’re doing this for? We do this for the women!’ So, we went with the mohawk. I decided to put a fade in there and put a hairline on it because I’d never seen that done. He loved it and we created a new wave which was something people were doing all over the world.”  

 

Aside from celebrity cuts, Curtis is also known as the godfather of the barber battle. It’s almost difficult to measure just how big an impact this man has had on the industry as a whole, given that much of his work has helped barbers to transform the way in which they see their craft. Now, it’s not uncommon to hear big-name barbers such as Pacinos cite Curtis as one of their influencers.  

“You would be hard-pressed to find a barber that doesn’t like what I represent. Because all we do is help the community of barbers to grow. We’ve energised a community of barbers to become bigger than they knew they could be: they didn’t think they could own their own products or do their own shows. Guys are doing amazing things these days and it’s really because of the energy that we started. For me it’s hard enough just to stay involved now. 

“Right now, the barbering industry is in a really good place. There are a lot of barbers driving themselves crazy trying to figure out how to become something bigger than what they are. But it’s good to see people trying, they’re thinking what else can we do.”  

One of these innovations is the Hair Battle Tour, Xotics’ barber battling tour which has been taking American barbers by storm. I ask Curtis to explain what sets it apart from other barber battles: “People have a good time. You can stand in the barbershop and do serious haircuts all day. When I put a show on, I want people to leave with a smile on their face. We try not to be so serious, we have a DJ playing music and I’m very particular about what my DJ plays. 

“We come with a certain energy and everyone who works for us carries that energy. We’re very accommodating, but very stern at the same time. It’s really just about having fun: we push that. We bring people up on stage, have sneaker battles. Sometimes we have kids come up and compete. One time we had kids come up and dance and collected prize money for the kids to win. Suddenly everyone’s involved.” 

 

It’s not hard to see why so many barbers are inspired to take part in these battles, and it’s great to see new talent emerge at the different events. We have been lucky enough to have Xotics bring their tour to the UK earlier this year, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for their global brand. If you missed the show, you can still benefit from Curtis’ unique style by listening to his parting words of advice:  

“Remember that everything that leads up to being successful happens one step at a time. You can’t overstep yourself. The most important thing you have in your career is the barber chair and the business that you represent. You represent that business first, your clients second and yourself third.  

“If you keep that format in place then you’ll always be straight: you’ll always have a great place to work. If you decide to go and open your own shop, don’t take barbers from your current shop. Every barber tries it but bad karma will follow you. Find your own staff from scratch, train them to where you want them to be. 

“Always be on time. Always treat your customers with the upmost respect. Once you start to make them happy, you can raise your prices: go from the guy who charges 20 to the guy who charges 40. When your income changes your options change; your opportunity changes. So always focus on making sure that whatever you’re doing right now is what you’re focused on the most. Your clients will stay with you until you die, if you treat them right.”  

 

Get more inspiration by following Curtis on Instagram @xotics to see some of his dazzling work; you can also follow this page @LarrytheBarberMan to make sure you’re keeping up with the latest interviews from barbering greats.

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Zach Ramsay Of Out Post Barber Co, Shares Game Changing Barbering & Photography Tips

Zach Ramsay – known as ‘Ramsay’, from The Outpost Barber Company – is known throughout the industry as one of the best up-and-coming barbers on the scene. His unique approach both to cutting hair and to photographing cuts has meant that after just a few years of practice, he’s already making waves. His entry to barbering came not in the form of classes or even a barbershop, but sat in his Mum’s basement some six years ago:

‘College wasn’t the route that I was going to go. I can’t sit there and be lectured, my attention span is just not there! That being said, I was always into getting myself a good haircut. I knew what it took to have a nice fade, a nice overall image. I wanted to further that.’

Zach drew on his artistic skills – he is also talented at drawing and able to understand artistic techniques – to give him a solid base of knowledge: ‘I think that directly correlates with a good skin fade. It’s understanding the shades and proportions of everything.’

Of course, barbering comes from practical knowledge too, and Zach was luck to have a barbering buddy who let him come into the shop and start learning. ‘One day I just said, “I want to get serious with this.” So he gave me my first barber chair, my first mirror and as soon as I got home I ran down into the basement and set everything up. I started doing my first haircuts for free. Then you charge $5, $10… I ended up doing $15, $20 haircuts and onwards from there.’

Once he knew he had the skills in place, Zach decided it was time to get serious: after all, there are a lot of clients who just won’t take a barber seriously if he’s set up in his Mum’s home! ‘I just didn’t feel comfortable bringing professionals into my home. It was kind of just a thing with my friends. I wanted to get into a professional environment and offer real structured services.’

 

Setting up his Outpost

A lot of barbers will get licensed and then spend years working for other established barbershops before even considering going it alone. Not so for Zach, who chose to dive straight into setting up his very own shop.

‘I opened up the shop with my buddy Shaun: he stopped working at the barbershop he was at and we got together. We thought it was a good idea to control your own career. We opened up the store with two large storefront windows, a classic tin ceiling, hardwood floors, a warmer light. It almost feels as though you’re walking into your own house, very inviting.

‘We just wanted to go with a modern style, but the detail and character of vintage items. That correlates with haircutting as well. Everything is always recycled, but with a bit of tinkering.’

As if that wasn’t enough on his plate, Zach has also been doing some impressive things with photography. After seeing barbers like Patty Cuts emphasize their work with phenomenal photographs, he wanted to find out how to take those professional shots himself. Next thing, he was picking up a pro camera and starting to capture unique images with a hybrid of fashion and lifestyle.

 

Defining the approach

Getting to understand Zach’s work better means finding out about his personal approach. I asked him to break it down for me, starting with his approach to cutting hair:

‘With my haircuts, I like to start with a solid foundation. I section off the hair and comb it in the exact direction that it wants to fall naturally. So if the client goes home and doesn’t blow-dry or apply a lot of product, it will still fall naturally and be an aesthetically pleasing haircut.

‘That structure is going to be my blueprint for the rest of the profile. I try to read the person’s vibe, look at their clothes, ask them questions: I want each haircut to be tailored to that person’s lifestyle. Then I bring the person outside and I’ll try and find colours that complement what they’re wearing, as well as the best lighting. If it’s an edgy photo, a lot of shadow and more dark emotions – if it’s more business professional, then it’s perky and upright.’

Finding that aesthetically pleasing image is easier said than done, though, and for Zach it’s a skill that he has acquired naturally – through trial and error – rather than with any formal training. ‘I always get eye level with the subject. This gives the viewer focus, it draws them directly to whatever you want them to see. I’ll walk up and down the street and find good light: I want depth, and a decent dynamic range on my photos.’

Creating a haircut that will look great on camera is also part of the challenge, and apparently it’s all down to precision. ‘I wouldn’t say that there’s too many tricks. It’s just being very precise with your work. Make sure your sections are clean, your cutting line is clean, your fade is clean. I would recommend taking out your phone after the fade and look at it through the camera. It tells no lies. If it looks good on the phone then the camera itself is going to look beautiful.’

 

Taking to the stage

Another string to the well-rounded barber’s bow is platform work, and Zach has also been doing the rounds as a talented stage educator: ‘I like to explain pretty much what we’ve talked about in this interview. How a haircut is not just a haircut. You almost change a person’s facial features by how you cut their hair. You can change someone’s life with a taper around the ear: they go into a job interview and that confidence boost gets them the job. I’ll tell them to wear their suit to the shop and take professional headshots for their LinkedIn or Resumé.’

Find examples of Zach’s work on Instagram by following @Z_Ramsay; this is the main platform that he uses to share the photos of his cuts. I recommend it to anyone who wants a solid source of inspiration; junior barbers in particular can use Zach’s shots to start understanding how to structure a better cut. Here are his parting words of advice for those up and coming barbers out there:

‘I would say it starts from the heart. You have to be passionate about it. Be observant and make sure that you break down every haircut into cause and effect. Each stroke of the clipper, the angle of the blade, the different textures, cutting styles, techniques: taking note of all of this will make you a better barber.

‘And with the photography, get out and shoot just like everybody says. You have to see pictures that you don’t like to understand what you do like. Get down and dirty – there are times I’m laying on my belly in the middle of the street looking weird. I don’t care! I just want the picture. And assess your work. Don’t be hard on other people’s work, compete with yourself. Keep working on yourself and you will get there.’

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Barber Vikki Harrison-Smith: Talks About SB Barbering Academy & The British Female Barber Association (BFBA)

Whilst at the Irish Barber Expo 2018, I couldn’t pass on the chance to meet one of the North East’s shining stars of barbering – Vikki Harrison-Smith – and learn more about two of her exciting projects: SB Barbering Academy, and the British Female Barber Association (BFBA).

 

It seems like barbering was always on the cards for Vikki, who was surrounded by barbers – including her grandfather and her friend’s dad – at a young age. She tells me that there was something about short hair that caught her eye and made her want to experiment further: “I even had a ‘Girl’s World’ – which was a toy from the 80s – with long hair and I cut that short. You weren’t supposed to! But I think it’s always been in my blood.

“So I started an apprenticeship at Malcolm H, a really good barbershop in Sunderland. I also did a foundation course in ladies’ hairdressing and then I went straight into the barbershop and never looked back. I’ve worked in a lot of shops, worked in Scotland and moved across the North East.”

It’s certainly common for barbering to pass from father (or grandfather) to son, and it’s great to hear a similar story from the female point of view. I asked Vikki to tell me a little more about her grandfather:

“I have a picture of Pops – my Grandfather – in the academy, and he looks like Buddy Holly, really! He was great. He had five shops: a ladies’ shop, a gents’ hairdresser and some more traditional shops. He did that for many years until he retired. He was very inspiring.”

 

After over two decades in barbering, Vikki has become renowned for the SB Barbering Academy, a brand that set up in conjunction with her husband and fellow barber, Ryan Smith. “We got together and inspired each other. I worked at a local college and wasn’t really happy there – I wanted to set something up that mirrored the training I’d had as an apprentice. SB would be cutting every day, cutting under mentors, learning the trade in a working barbershop. That’s how the academy was born.”

It would be fair to say that SB academy has something of a speciality focus, with courses such as ‘Zero to Hero’ designed to give people the skills needed to pick up their clippers for the very first time. “It’s designed for people with no prior knowledge of hair or barbering. Just blank. We have to build them up to be able to go into a barbershop. Under a mentor, of course – we never tell people you’re going to open a shop. We tell people you have to work through the system, like we did years ago. You get a foundation from us and build on that. That’s how it is in barbering.”

The Level 2 qualification takes 2 weeks to complete and will involve cutting up to 6 or 7 models a day. After that, there are additional courses available for people to hone in on particular skills and advance their techniques. Vikki also reinforces the fact that it’s all about learning the basics first: “You learn step by step, and then you piece it all together. After that, you go out into the big barbering world and you build on that.”

 

Vikki’s other big project recently has been setting up the British Female Barber Association (BFBA), and I wonder whether she feels that being a female barber has presented extra challenges for her: “It’s a funny thing. Where I worked, there were only two men and the rest were women. It wasn’t really an issue. In the 90s it was actually quite fashionable to have women in barbershops.

“It became an issue once I went into training. I was overlooked quite a bit for jobs, I think, because that being the lead trainer or head of department was more male dominated. It was a hierarchy really.”

It’s great to see how things are changing in the industry, not just for Vikki – who has now gained the respect of her peers – but also for other up and coming female barbers who can hopefully get the opportunities they deserve. The BFBA should be another big step forward, and Vikki explains the motivation behind setting it up:

“This wasn’t created as a male-hating group. It’s nothing like that. I just wanted to create a network for women barbers in a male-dominated industry. Female barbers don’t necessarily come to shows, or they aren’t on the stage.

“I want to create a support group for women. For example, if you go off to have a baby it becomes very difficult to have that time off and come back into a barbershop. Because you haven’t been doing the skills, you’re lacking confidence. We want to give advice on maternity leave, teach women that it’s good to keep that relationship with your boss going. We’ve got the legal side to help with. As an experienced barber that has been through a lot, I feel like I can give women a lot of support.”

Hopefully this will be great not only for encouraging more women into the industry, but also for ensuring that they then have the required skills once they get there!

 

Watch the full interview for even more great information, including Vikki’s tips for using a routine to make your cutting process more effective. From hair control to scissor techniques, there really is a great deal to master if you want to be a successful barber – but working with educators like Vikki can give you the confidence and knowledge you need to make a very good start. Go to the SB Academy website for more information. If you’re interested in joining the BFBA, they are planning on setting up as registered charity: follow @BFBA_official on Instagram to stay up to date on the details.

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