I recently had the chance to run a feature about 5ive, one of the faces of Wahl’s creative team, in the excellent barbering magazine Barber NV – which gave me the chance to interview the incredibly talented barber and learn what stories he had to share about his career, and what lessons he good impart for other barbers. For those of you who didn’t get the chance to read that article, I’m going to run through some of the best bits right now, although if you want the full in-depth interview and a lot of other fascinating barbering content then head to the Salon NV site and flick through the back issues!
So, on to 5ive: he’s a barber that doesn’t need too much of an introduction, since his work with Wahl has already put him well and truly in the barbering spotlight, however for those of you who aren’t familiar with his work 5ive is a self-taught barber with multiple awards to his name and an impressive list of celebrities that he’s styled.
As a self-taught barber, his initial barbering experience was picked up as a teenager practicing on friends and relatives – and he fondly remembers getting a set of clippers for his 16th birthday: “it was like getting a new iPad, it was incredible”. Simply by pushing himself to learn at home, 5ive was able to hone his skills and land a spot in a barber shop, and it wasn’t long before he’d started scooping up awards, with his first win coming in 1992.
Once again, 5ive’s friends were part of the story here, pushing him to take the plunge and start doing some competition work. He admits that it was a nerve-racking experience – but one that he grew to love, and which paid off as he started gathering more acclaim and respect within the barbering community. 5ive’s growth wasn’t over, though, and after around 6 years focussed exclusively on barbering he decided to give himself “a new challenge”: hairdressing. While this is a somewhat unusual career path for a barber, it’s not unexpected from a man who seems to be focussed on carving is own path. Now, 5ive boasts an impressive collection of hairdressing awards alongside those that he picked up from hairdressing.
His next step was to start working with Wahl, as part of the elite group known as Wahl’s Artistic Team. So what is it really like to have such a desirable barbering job? Here’s what 5ive had to say about working at Wahl: “It’s great. It’s one of my passions I love to do, because yet again it’s another side of 5ive – put me on a platform I come to life so to speak. Working for Wahl is great because you get to travel, you get to pass on your knowledge and teach, which is a great thing to do – especially to youngsters that are trying to get into the game and improve their technique.”
I was very keen to pick up some tips from 5ive while I was fortunate enough to have him in the interview chair, starting with the tools that he makes use of on a day-to-day basis. The key tools that make up 5ive’s collection are the Cordless Super Taper, a Cordless Detailer, Academy Chrome style Cordless Clippers, a selection of different trimmers and plenty of blades, combs and oils to ensure that he can remain versatile. That said, he also tells me that your “original barbering tools” are your hands, and if you’re going for something like perfect Beyoncé curls, they’re going to be the most essential tools in your collection!
He also has some advice to share with early career barbers wondering how to make an impression on the industry: “Stay true to yourself and trust yourself. Have the right kits, professional tools. And pay homage to the barbers that came before”. Throughout the interview, 5ive comes across as a humble man, and this combination of humility and confidence certainly seems to have worked for him. I also wondered whether he has any predictions for the future of the industry: “It’s going to keep growing, and I think we’re going to start seeing more high end hair care products, as well as a lot of female barbers making their mark.”
If this interview has inspired you to see 5ive perform then you can catch him at a number of high profile events, such as Pro Hair Live, Salon International and Barber Connect; he also has some products being promoted by Wahl, including a straightener designed to tackle afro hair, which you can pick up at most online barbering retail stores. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, YouTube and Facebook pages to make sure you don’t miss out on any upcoming content… in the meantime, embrace 5ive’s advice to become a stronger, more professional barber.
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